In the busy sewing workshop, the “digital brain” orders all production links in an orderly manner; in the bustling e-commerce live broadcast room, popular models are sold out one after another; in the bustling clothing market, emerging brands stand out… In Jiangsu Changshu, such scenes happen every day.
There are more than 4,000 textile and apparel companies and 35 professional trading markets. Changshu’s huge size is its advantage, but it also means that it will be more difficult to transform and upgrade in the face of the impact of e-commerce, fast fashion, flexible production, etc. How does Changshu’s textile and garment industry embark on the road of upgrading? Recently, reporters conducted a survey.
Smart digital transformation and equip the workshop with a “digital brain”
Not long ago, Jiangsu Jinchen Garment Co., Ltd. received an order to rush to produce 60,000 pieces of clothing within 10 days. In just one week, all products were delivered to customers.
“In the past, it would have been impossible to get it out in such a short time.” Lin Guoshi, head of Jinchen’s garment business department, explained that every time a new style of clothing is released, the assembly line has to be re-run, and it usually takes a week for the production line to run smoothly. Therefore, many clothing companies are unable to accept large orders with particularly high timeliness requirements.
In the production workshop, the intelligent production suspension transmission system captures the “parts” that make up the clothing, such as cuffs, collars, and front plackets, and delivers them accurately to workers in each position. A tablet computer is installed above each work station. The numbers on the screen are constantly beating. Workers’ operations such as smoothing clothes, removing seams, and stepping on sewing machines are all recognized and recorded in real time by the “needle intelligence” system in the computer.
It is this smart production collaboration system that equips the workshop with a “digital brain”, giving Jinchen Garments the ability to respond quickly. “Producing a piece of clothing with complex styles may require two to three hundred processes. By applying artificial intelligence technology to clothing production and manufacturing, all aspects of tailoring, sewing, quality inspection, and finishing are ‘handled’ by the system. , to achieve efficient collaboration among various departments and links in the factory.” Dr. Liu Ke, one of the developers of “Zhensmart” and co-founder and chief product officer of Feiliu Technology, told reporters.
In terms of clothing design, “digital brain” also shows its talents.
Suzhou Raponi Clothing Co., Ltd. is a large clothing company in Changshu, producing tens of millions of pieces of clothing every year and designing more than 3,000 styles of clothing. Chen Kaien, chairman of Raponi, said that according to traditional methods, designing a piece of clothing requires the cooperation of more than a dozen departments, including drawing design drafts, 2D pattern making, material preparation, proofing, and modification. If there is a slight deviation in the produced sample, the process must be repeated, which takes at least half a month.
Nowadays, thanks to a 3D digital service platform for the clothing industry called “Style3D”, designing clothes has become as easy as building blocks. The designer opens the software, selects the “parts” of the clothes from the database, moves the mouse, splices them repeatedly, and then carefully modifies the details. In less than half an hour, a 3D sample garment appears on the screen. If you need to modify it, just click the mouse to complete it.
Today, with the help of digital technology, the traditional labor-intensive industry of textiles and clothing is becoming more and more “technological”. Yu Zhe, chief of the Industrial Policy Section of Changshu Municipal Bureau of Industry and Information Technology, said that in the past three years, more than 700 textile and garment companies in Changshu have carried out digital transformation, with a cumulative investment of more than 2 billion yuan in transformation, and the average labor productivity of enterprises has increased by 35%, and product manufacturing The cycle time is shortened by 19%.
Transform the e-commerce track and create another 100-billion-dollar market
The Garment City located in the urban area used to be the most prosperous area in Changshu. In recent years, many people feel that this area is not as lively as before. Is the clothing city silent?
“Of course not. In 2022, Changshu Garment City’s market transaction volume will exceed 142.1 billion yuan. At the same time, another 100-billion-level market is also rising rapidly.” said Liu Ya, secretary-general of the Changshu E-Commerce Association.
Now in Changshu, a large-scale clothing “online market” is debuting in the “cloud”. In 2022, Changshu’s clothing online transaction volume will exceed 100 billion yuan.
“Sisters, this sun protection suit is the latest model this year. The fabric has a lot of technological elements added to it, which can effectively block ultraviolet rays and makes it very cool to wear…” Walking into the Jiuhaoyuandian Digital Fashion Base of the Clothing City Comprehensive Market, there are live broadcast rooms one by one. It was very lively. Outside the live broadcast room, the warehouse manager pushed the trolley through the base, scanning the QR code to package the clothes, and then sent them to various places.
Wei Hui, deputy general manager of Changshu Garment City Comprehensive Market, told reporters that this was once a large hardware market with a construction area of nearly 60,000 square meters, and now it has become a digital live broadcast base. Over the past few years, nearly a hundred merchants, institutions and enterprises have gathered, covering platforms such as Douyin, Taobao, Pinduoduo, and Kuaishou.
In the live broadcast room of the flower concept flagship store on the second floor of the base, anchor Guo Yajun is promoting a product.The yellow cotton three-quarter-sleeve shirt is the store’s latest “hot item”, with tens of thousands of pieces sold in a month.
Taking a fancy to the strong foundation of the textile and apparel industry, Guo Yajun and her husband came to Changshu in 2014 to start their e-commerce business. Guo Yajun told reporters that the transformation and upgrading of Changshu’s textile and garment industry continues to accelerate, bringing new opportunities to the development of e-commerce.
“In order to comply with the personalized and precise needs of the e-commerce era, many factories have the ability to ‘quick returns for small orders.'” Guo Yajun said that they have established cooperative relationships with more than a dozen local clothing factories and can pre-sales based on online stores. situation, coordinate with the factory and respond quickly. Now, the flagship store sells hundreds of thousands of sets of clothing of all types every year.
From the traditional clothing wholesale market to the national live broadcast e-commerce highland, as of the end of 2022, there are 25 live broadcast merchants in Changshu Garment City with sales exceeding 100 million yuan, and 235 with sales exceeding 20 million yuan. In Changshu, the live broadcast format is fully integrated with the market, brand, logistics, talent, supply chain, traditional e-commerce, etc.
Strengthen brand building and break through the ceiling of industrial development
When talking about clothing in Changshu, you can’t avoid Bosideng. Founded in 1976, this clothing company whose products are exported to 72 countries has gradually become a high-end brand in the down jacket industry. However, in the past few years, Bosideng has also gone through a detour – due to the misunderstanding of “greeding for more and seeking perfection”, its revenue fell by nearly 40% in three years, more than 9,000 stores were closed, and its brand value was affected.
Starting from 2017, Bosideng has cut off unfamiliar and complicated product lines. “In the field of home furnishings, we have reached a scale of more than one billion yuan, but in the end we chose to throw it away.” said Gao Dekang, chairman and president of Bosideng Group. Returning to the main channel of down jackets, implementing the “high-end” strategy, and carrying out brand upgrades, in just a few years, Bosideng has gradually been able to compete with the international first-tier down jacket brands.
It’s not just the first-tier brands that use branding as a key to success. Wang Xun, Research Specialist for Industrial Economic Development of Changshu Municipal Development and Reform Commission, told reporters that although Changshu’s textile and apparel industry chain is complete, most of it consists of foundries and small workshops. In recent years, more and more companies have transformed their business models and embarked on the road of brand development.
Changshu Ouxiyi Weaving Co., Ltd. is an enterprise engaged in the development, production and sales of various knitted warp and weft fabrics. General Manager Peng Gang said frankly that although the company is a large-scale enterprise, its business is mainly OEM, and the market competition is fierce and the profit margin is very low.
In order to break through the development ceiling, in 2021, Oxiyi will “team up” with three companies in the supply chain to jointly create a home wear brand called “Orange Line”. Fabrics, printing and dyeing, and garment manufacturing, several companies have leveraged their respective strengths in the supply chain.
During a live broadcast in October last year, “Orange Line” sold more than 30,000 sets of home clothes in one night, and the sales volume far exceeded expectations. However, the warehouse only had 10,000 sets of goods, and four companies urgently collaborated. In just 10 days, the shortage of more than 20,000 sets of home clothes was rushed out.
“Taking the brand route will provide broader development space.” Liu Xiaoyang, the person in charge of the “Orange Line” brand, said that in the next five years, the company plans to achieve annual sales of 500 million to 800 million yuan.
Changshu’s textile and apparel industry is constantly moving towards branding and high-end development. Traditional brands are constantly being upgraded, and a large number of emerging apparel brands have emerged. The relevant person in charge of the Changshu Municipal Bureau of Industry and Information Technology said that the next step will be to introduce and support a group of fashion designers.