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  June 7th, 2024 | Written by

Resilience and Recovery: How Product Rework Experts Sustain the Fashion Industry

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The fashion industry is no stranger to supply chain hiccups, curveballs, speed bumps, surprises, or whatever other buzzword is used to describe a disruption to operations and inventory availability.

Read also: Delivering in Style: Logistics Needs for the Fashion Industry

Whatever term you choose, the industry continues to seek ways to be flexible and resilient amidst a wide array of events that can put pressures on their supply chain performance.  Some of the immediate pressures they are facing today, and that they expect to persist looking forward, are focused on production matters, sourcing changes, supply chain uncertainty, and sustainability.

Production – Footwear, apparel, and many accessory products such as handbags are fusions of art, craftsmanship, design, and more.  While advances in fashion design, fabrics, and manufacturing have occurred in recent years, many of the goods are still handmade requiring a human touch to produce the finished product.  Factories around the world employ thousands of workers stitching products together, applying adhesives to bond components together, and possibly utilizing a variety of punches or presses to set and place buttons or snaps for example.

Sourcing – Supply chain resilience and flexibility is needed today for risk mitigation, and many companies are turning towards the diversification of suppliers and countries of origin.

Supply Chain Uncertainty – Shipping disruptions, fluctuating transit times for goods to reach originally intended destinations, unfortunate port disasters or strikes, and monsoons or extreme weather events can wreak havoc on the condition and availability of goods sourced around the world.

Sustainability – Increased interests in sustainability, the impact of new regulations on the horizon, and desires to make improvements in product life circularity are increasingly important to corporate ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) efforts.

Supply chain resilience depends on key partners

Resilience is a team sport and working with key partners is necessary for successfully handling the latest supply chain curveball.   As the industry examines changes in suppliers or production partners, faces their latest supply chain disruption issue, or addresses new rules around sustainability, these factors can have spin-off impacts that may result in pressures on delivering their inventories to key markets that meets merchandise quality and performance standards.  Sales require inventory availability; any disruption in the process can be critical.  For example:

The production of handmade fashion goods requires skilled technicians.  As companies onboard new factories or their existing factories are increasingly presented with skilled labor availability challenges, this can lead to production mistakes if not caught in a timely manner on the factory floor prior to shipping goods.  When mistakes occur and are discovered post-shipment, companies may need to rework or correct the production mistakes quickly in the U.S. or Europe to have the proper inventory availability levels to meet sales goals.

Monsoon conditions in overseas production markets, shipping/delivery disruptions/rerouting, and other events such as strikes, or natural disasters can also put significant pressure on the condition of goods when they finally arrive at a U.S. or European destination.  Different points in the supply chain may be conducive for creating the environment for moisture damage to occur on imported merchandise.  Damage can include mold, odor, color bleeding, wet products, and more.  Finished goods manufactured and packaged in hot, high-humidity environments and the long distances that goods may travel with wide fluctuations in temperatures and without the benefit of climate controls are just two of the many factors that can result in potential water damage to inventories in route from an overseas manufacturing location to key market destinations.  

To turn high volumes of impacted inventory around, and not turn the ship around, many in the fashion industry turn to a couple of well-established experts in the U.S. and Europe to serve as their product rework partners for scenarios such as those described above and more.  These “product savers” help recover and restore key inventories to first-quality conditions which provides sellable products that can command their intended full retail prices.

Rework leaders in the U.S. and Europe for nearly 40 years

Quality Corrections & Inspections (QCI) in the U.S. and Erren Recondition in Europe have been in operation for nearly 40 years each, providing critical product rework support to fashion industry supply chain teams responsible for bringing quality products to key markets on-time and in-full (“OTIF”) for key selling seasons every year.

When goods reach their destination market with real or perceived product integrity issues, the product rework centers for the two companies are well-equipped to respond and provide a diverse array of services such as the following:

Mold, Mildew and Odor Remediation

Delamination Issues – Soles/Insoles

Product Inspection/Sortation/Grading

Footwear Leather Toning and Refinishing

Blooming Issues

High Volume Laundering and Garment Finishing

Hardware Replacement and Repair (eg. eyelets, buckles, snaps, buttons, zippers)

Relabeling, Ticketing, Tagging, Repacking

Alterations and Stitching Corrections

Spot Cleaning, Cosmetic Issues

Customized Rework Services

Today, product rework services are more important than ever.  Many product integrity issues that arise can be corrected as needed through product rework, helping to extend a product’s life cycle as originally intended and preventing products from being unnecessarily discarded.  In addition, as pressures mount to improve upon corporate ESG efforts, product rework can serve as an important tool in making an impact on these efforts.  More importantly, when product reworks may be required, they can improve the outlook for inventory availability which translates to potential for sales.

The teams at QCI and Erren Recondition are often viewed as an extension of the quality, inventory planning, sourcing and merchandising teams in the fashion industry.  Their expertise, collaborative approach, and responsiveness is instrumental in helping fashion supply chain leaders deliver inventories to market and deliver on their supply chain resilience strategies.

Author Bio

Randy Burk is the executive vice president and “creative problem solver” for Quality Corrections & Inspections.  For nearly 40 years, Randy and the Quality Corrections & Inspections team have provided product inspection, repair, and rework services to companies in the apparel, footwear, accessories and consumer goods sectors from around the world.  Quality Corrections & Inspections has two U.S. production centers located in Henderson, Nevada and Duncansville, Pennsylvania.