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Kornit Digital & Fashion – Enter: From Sketchpad to Shopping Bag Webinar


27th January 2021: From Sketchpad to Shopping Bag webinar featuring Fashion-Enter Ltd, hosted by Phil Oakley, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Kornit Digital.

The focus for the webinar was established at the outset by Phil Oakley, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Kornit Digital: To discuss the need for change, the drivers for change, and highlight the processes, technology and enablers for change,” to around 50+ webinar attendees made up of industry professionals, featuring Jenny Holloway, CEO, and Caroline Ash, Production Director of Fashion-Enter.

The business context for change was expressed by how the front end of ‘Direct to garment printing’ (DTG) that Kornit has been at the forefront for the last 16 years, (15 billion impressions per year, across brand, customization and promotional market segments) and ‘Direct to Fabric printing’ (DTF), their technological cutting edge offering, is able to connect with the back-end, manufacturing, specific to an increasing on-demand proposition within the fashion industries $300bn global market.

Phil asked: “How on-demand manufacturing can actually be achieved in a sustainable way?” followed by, “mass manufacturing offshore feels like it has not changed in a hundred years, while the basic concept of design is now digitised, centralised and the way we consume, changed fifty times over…why do we need to change?”

Jenny Holloway responded by saying that from her experience previously at M&S, and all the factories she used to visit, “manufacturing and the processes have not really changed at all. The software has changed and the consumer voice has changed, many are worried about global warming and obliged to go online, as a result of Covid, evidenced by the bricks and mortar demise of retailers such as Debenhams. It’s really time to look at the impact on manufacturing.”

Jenny cited the daily growing statistics of retail jobs losses in their tens of thousands, mapped onto “a more e-commerce savvy consumer, more discerning, with information at their fingertips regarding sustainability.” She acknowledged that in an industry that currently offers body scans, neck line and sleeve length adjustment, perfect fit on scanned silhouettes with printed patterns automatically sent to the cutters, the one area not digitised out of existence, by necessity “we still need talented machinists to make the garment.”  Jenny willingly accepted responsibility in her own Fashion-Enter factory, “we have waited far too long. As factories we have to be innovators too, it’s not good enough.”

Phil put forward the business case question: “What’s in it for the business in a cost per garment sense? What’s the driver for change? Sustainability is still lower down on the agenda because of cost – when in fact ODM – on demand sustainability, should be the enabler.” Phil asked: “What would it mean to your business if on demand accelerated suddenly?”

“You have got to have trained staff available. We do. And a strong managerial team. We can go from a minimum order of one, to maximum of 40,000 per week. So we are in effect, ready,” Jenny responded.

“But where does change start? Process? Technology? Economics? Front end is moving at light speed, the back end at the speed of the industrial age,” says Phil. “It’s about relationships between manufacturing, retail and technology and not compromising on ethics, in terms of compliance with the modern slavery act. Retailers will innovate and have to force the manufacturing end of the supply chain with them,” said Jenny.

Referring back to the opening premise, Phil put the focus onto the drivers for change. “At the digital front end, e-commerce has been around for twenty years, mobile e-commerce has now led to exponential growth combining, e-commerce, self and social media. What if brands and retailers tried to meet consumer’s demands? Effective on-demand manufacturing is the missing piece.” Phil brought up a slide showing McKinsey & Co Research, based on impact of Covid-19. A quote from the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella stated: “we’ve seen 2 years worth of growth of digital transformation in 2 months,” bringing into sharp focus, the ‘sudden’ disproportionate weighting towards online, placing the driver focus unequivocally on the consumer. Sustainability, Phil reminds us is actually a choice, because the technology is there.

The business philosophy of Kornit is revealed via ‘Wrap’ – a Waste and Resources Action Program, focusing on waste in the fashion clothing industry in the UK, the ‘textile mountain’ and their vision ‘one impression at a time.’ They advocate turning supply and demand into demand and supply.

Phil then invited the attendees on a stylised version of an on-demand journey of fashion, utilising the benefits of a fully functioning Fashion-Enter (FE) live factory environment to demonstrate ‘garment life cycle’ as it can be integrated with on demand printing, seamlessly. A mixture of carefully explained FE narration by Caroline Ash, matched with graphic illustrations of the process from design, consultation with FE, to save time and money without compromising design; selection of fabric sourced by factory or independently, to prototype samples made in the design studio before committing to a production order, agreed and scheduled for the factory floor machinists, depending on volume.

The benefits of on-demand printing were presented through slides, asserting how within the design conceptualisation and styling process, across any type of fabric, man-made, knitted or woven – the garment can be printed on, at either fabric stage or finished ‘plain’ garment stage. A greater awareness of on-demand printing brought to the forefront of the designer realm, combined with the education of the necessary processes, for the factory to incorporate it as a service, and as a game-changer for the finished product in response to customer demand. This is most readily understood now by the significant shift in the weighting towards online-engagement for consumer purchases. Intrinsic to this is the ‘personalisation dynamic’ set to grow exponentially into $billions. The consumer will be choosing the fabric, the style and design and the print pattern they want – as the norm. Research already confirms “consumers are willing to spend up to 20% more for personalisation choice.”

All discussion points led back to the same supply-demand inversion. The Kornit business philosophy of on-demand, categorically spelt out: consumer enabled choice priming an on-demand business model of the future.

This was further illustrated by a key slide promoting the value proposition within the presentation: to ‘add value to the customer to improve profitability for the fashion supply chain, showing the 4 R’s of Personalisation: ‘Remember’ (know your customer’s history, buyer profile) ‘Recognise’ (know your customer, and prospect’s profiles/ demographics); ‘Recommend’ (reach them with the right marketing/offer); ‘Relevance’ (deliver personalisation within their digital context of their consumer world).

(Sources, Deloitte, Sparks & Honey).

The presentation segued into a live link with Marco Bonanno, Kornit Product Manager in Dusseldorf. Marco took us through the rudiments of the Kornit ‘single-step solution’ print application process, demonstrated with one of their print machines, highlighting key features and efficiencies with the functionality, its low maintenance and ease of use (1-2 operators) and its readiness for near-shoring. This aspect of the presentation clearly geared to the prospect users and buyers who had tuned into the webinar as invitees and reflected in the proactive Q&A back and forth with one of the Direct to Fabric managers Scott Walton.

The near-shoring / on-shoring aspect of many processes within the supply chain are now under closer scrutiny during Covid because of disrupted, arguably (over) dependency on supply chains that became unworkable (China), and now post-Brexit, should stimulate interest in the practical application of Kornit’s on demand product/ service print offering, accessible within individual domestic markets.

The link passed back to Fashion-Enter, with a live presentation from Caroline Ash on ‘How To Use Galaxius.’ A system installed in FE on the factory floor to help manage scheduling, work flows, productivity, garment times and factory average machinist times and associated incentivised ‘1 minute bonus’ performance benefits per machinist, using bar code scanning for real time analysis. The cumulative accrued bonuses are assessed throughout the quality control checks so that any repair work required is netted against an individual machinists bonus time until it is made good, ensuring quality is maintained. A comprehensive, detailed and fair method for assessing and managing the factory floor output and individual machinist performance.

The question was taken up by Phil steering the discussion to a conclusion: “We have gone on a journey to understand end to end, we saw a stylised view, but what does better actually mean?”

“Better means more transparency. With our audits, we go to every part of the business, they go to the factory floor first. We have the skills, not technology based, and we need constant order flow to keep the factory busy and retailers listening to the consumer voice. Working with the technology of personalisation can demystify the process. Quality is still important, that what you see on the screen is what you end up with,” replied Jenny.

Phil was happy the webinar had met their objectives, evidenced by the quality of technical-based questions throughout and follow-ups from the attendees.

Anyone interested in further information should contact Phil Oakley at Kornit Digital or Fashion-Enter directly.

By Paul Markevicius

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