Strong collaboration and data-driven systems are key to building resilient and adaptable supply chains. That’s according to Marian Temmen, senior director of supply chain transformation and innovation at PVH Corp., the US fashion giant behind labels Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.
Speaking Tuesday at the PI Apparel Supply Chain Forum, which took place in Amsterdam from 30 - 31 May, Temmen said companies need to adopt holistic, integrated, and sustainable supply chains if they want to thrive and adapt to the fast-evolving fashion landscape.
“We have this traditional way of doing things that goes back 20, 30 years. But that will no longer work, it will not sustain us moving forward,” Temmen said. The “traditional” mindset of having a “shiny marketing object in the front” and then the supply chain as a “back-office function that just delivers and focuses on cost, margin, availability, inventory” is no longer effective. Better communication, more transparency, and “strong relationships” with vendors and suppliers beyond tier one is now fundamental.
He said there will also need to be more of a focus on educating and training employees to understand the interdependencies between different parts of the business. “Education is key,” Temmen said. “I think that's where it's going to be very helpful and beneficial if you have, let's say, experts from the supply chain venture out into the commercial side of the business and vice versa so that you really have that collaboration and that exchange of ideas and thoughts”.
Data boosting sustainability
Temmen also outlined the importance of integrating sustainability into the foundation of supply chains, and stressed that it’s a long term investment that will ultimately pay dividends. “It’s not either or,” he said - or in other words, sustainability and profitability can co-exist. “I think in the past it was very much supply chain and a little bit of sustainability on the side,” he said, “but fast forward a couple of years from now and I think it's very much going to be an intertwined space”.
He cited near-shoring as an example, where companies are manufacturing closer to home, which both makes them more agile and responsive by bringing production closer to their consumer, while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Temmen also believes AI will play a major role in improving efficiencies within supply chains and simultaneously bolstering sustainability. For example, AI-based predictive demand sensing tools using historical data can be used to make more accurate predictions and ultimately cut down on fashion’s huge amount of overproduction.