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Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001

“Measures” For New Product Development

Muditha M. Senanayake and Trevor J. Little

North Carolina State University

Current measures for apparel product development are presented and described. The evolvement
of the types of measurements are examined through the 1990’s. The increase in the interest and
changing emphasis in the area of product development is examined by analyzing the patent
activity from 1971 to present. Published papers on the subject of textile and apparel product
development show an increase throughout the 1990’s. New trends, technologies and business
practices are discussed in relation to the new era of product development competitiveness.

KEY WORDS: Product Development, Benchmarking, CAD, Digital Printing, Body Scanning,
Rapid Prototyping, Whole Garment Knitting, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Internet
Commerce, Automatic Language Translation

Innovation only return its unique development cost but

The development of new textile and contribute to the development costs of
apparel products is rewarding and this unadopted or shelved products. The return
activity is necessary to sustain a profitable on investment in new apparel products will
organization. A product undergoes a product be attractive only if risks can be minimized
life cycle of introduction, growth, maturity, and profits maximized.
and finally decline (Kotler, 2000). In the An apparel firm is continually aware
maturity or decline phase, an organization of the marketing system and the macro-
must take an active role to expand the apparel business environment that impact on
apparel product line and either extend the the organization. The firm learns to
apparel life cycle, re-align the apparel recognize factors in the market, which
product to make it superior or develop a new initiate new apparel products. The firm
apparel product to maintain revenue. initiates new products because of financial
If new apparel products are not goals, sales growth, competitive position,
developed, sales and profits decline, product life cycle, regulation, material costs,
technology and markets change, or inventions, customer requests and
innovation by other firms makes the original technology.
product obsolete. The resources needed for Growth in sales is an important goal
new apparel product development include for many apparel corporations; in many
R&D, engineering, and test marketing. Since cases it is absolutely necessary if profits are
all product ideas are not successfully to be maintained. While sales growth is a
developed and tested, substantial funds are continuing force for innovation, the
spent on apparel products that never reach emphasis has shifted to profitability as the
the market. The successful product must not prime concern (Urban & Hauser, 1980).
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
Product Life Cycle mass customized demand to produce a
As the product moves from maturity specific apparel product that the customer
to decline in the product life cycle, profits has designed. In other industries, 80 percent
fall. To regain profit, the organization of the major innovations were the result of
should direct effort toward rejuvenating the customers who had a need to satisfy and
life cycle or replacing the declining product built a prototype of what they needed
with a new, more profitable product. The (Urban and Hauser, 1980). It is common to
life cycle is important in apparel products think of the manufacturer as the innovator
but it is also important to understand sales but suppliers can also be a force in
patterns. If the product is about to decline, innovation.
new apparel products will be needed. A major factor accounting for the
Despite the difficulties in applying the ‘decline phase’ of apparel products and the
product life cycle in all situations, the shortening of life cycles is the rapid change
concept is important because it directs our in technology. For firms who can be first to
attention to monitoring sales growth or successfully create apparel products based
decline. New apparel inventions, like any on new technology, the rewards can be high.
new product, are subjected to the high risk A proactive apparel firm follows these
of failure and should be carefully evaluated technological changes and puts them to
before any major investment is made. profitable use by matching them to the
changing market place.
Other Product Development Initiators
Governments are becoming Product Failure
increasingly involved in regulating apparel The newly developed products can
business. In many cases these new fail due to internal and external reasons:
regulations cause apparel firms to consider
producing new products. The regulatory External
power of government pervades competitive • The failure may be due to a ‘too small
practices, advertising, product safety, market’. A new product is developed
labeling, labor practices, etc. that attains a large market share, but
As raw material costs and fails since the target market is not large
availability change, apparel products must enough to generate sufficient sales and
be revised or dropped. In a world of profits.
increasing shortages and supply variability, • Due to the fact that the product does not
the forecasting of supply prices and the display a ‘new or different’ feature, it
development of new products to exploit the can fail. The opportunity must be
structural shifts in raw material price will be assessed in the design evaluation step to
important in many organizations. determine if consumers perceive the
The postwar baby boom brought product as new and different. A product
about market changes, including the rapid should be both physically and
growth in apparel baby products, followed perceptually better than existing
by the “youth” culture, overflowing products.
colleges, and a very tight housing market. • ‘Competitive response’ is another factor
As rapidly as the growth evolves, it changes where competitors probably will copy
as the demographics of the U.S. population the successful products. The best
continue to shift. Life style, fitness and mass defense is to come up with a good
communication systems also generate design so as to preempt the competitors
apparel consumption shifts. Development of and earn its just reward.
new apparel products to exploit these shifts • “Changes in consumers’ tastes” are
will ensure the success of firms. perhaps the most difficult problems to
Other sources of new apparel overcome in preventing a product
product ideas are a customer request or a
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
failure. The dynamics of consumer consistent execution of project team roles
tastes requires a continued monitoring and responsibilities with the involvement of
process so that product can be senior management at the appropriate points.
redesigned, repositioned, dropped, or
delayed. Changing Emphasis in the Area of
• ‘Change in environmental constraints’ Product Development
where new regulations, technology, and The level of activity in textile and
material supplies can cause failure to a apparel product development has been
new product. steadily increasing. This can be observed in
terms of more styles for each company,
Internal global sourcing of additional styles to
• If the product does not agree with the complement the existing line, and targeted
company mission, it can fail. The development of products for target markets.
market opportunity must match the Global sourcing has also increased the
company’s strategic plan before product development activity because of the
development is begun. advent of full package sourcing in addition
• ‘Misunderstanding of consumer needs’ to those products that are manufactured or
may be another factor for a product to sourced to specification.
disqualify. Also poor pricing is a cause The increase in product
for failure where the price/benefits development activity together with the
positioning is not correct. global manufacturing and assembly
• ‘Little support for the channel of practices, have integrated the product
distribution’ can be an internal reason development more into the mainstream
for a new product to fail. business decision structure of the firm.
• Many good products fail because of the Product Development Measures being
poor organization of a firm. The main applied to today’s products cover many
interests in R&D and marketing may aspects from the design concept to the
prevent effective progress on a good consumer.
product, while conflicts between the As an overall measure of the
new products group and the sales changing importance of “product
organization may kill a good product. development”, the number of published
• The issues of communication are serious papers in the textile literature using the
and must be explicitly addressed in words “product development” were
organizing for implementation of a new determined. This was accomplished by using
apparel product development process. the World Textile Database (2001) and its
Without clear responsibility, the best search engine. The results of this search are
designed and tested product may fail shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 shows that the
due to poor execution of the number of published papers in the 1970’s
introduction plans. were less than 10 every two years.
• ‘Forecasting error’ may be another In the 1980’s, the number of papers every
reason for a product failure where the two years were in the range of 13 to 32 and
leading causes can be the over this publication rate continued through
estimation of sales. 1993-94. However, after 1993-94, the
In conclusion the new product number of publications devoted to product
development process must be well defined, development has increased significantly. In
documented, broadly communicated, and fact, the data shows a three to four fold
understood throughout the firm which will increase in the number of publications
obtain management’s support for the project. related to product development.
An effective new product development Figure 1.
process will reduce time-to-market through

Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
PD Papers per 2 years Average No of Patents per year

100 18 Product Development

Number of papers


No of Patents
60 12
10 Rapid Prototyping
40 8
Digital Printing
20 6
4 Body Scanning
0 2














0 Whole Garment Knitting



A utomatic language








Years CIM

Figure1: Source: World Textile Database (2001) Figure 3. - Source: U.S.Patents (2001)

Furthermore, in reviewing the

Product Development Models
number of patents issued for product
The models of the new product
development related technologies, it can be
development process are helpful to look at
seen from Figure 2 that the number of
in detail the stages and activities in the
patents has increased significantly in the
product development process. The published
1990’s. More importantly is the fact that the
product development models for apparel are
number of patents issued to product-related
of a sequential type. Some of these models
technologies has increased significantly over
define the process with general stages and
the past four years compared with the patent
others use list of activities. The models
activity for the previous 25 years. Patent
created by Burns and Bryant (1997), Regan,
issue rates for product development
Kincade and Sheldon (1998), and Sadd
activities have reached an annual average of
(1996) describe the process as a series of
32 per year compared with an annual rate of
stages in a linear progression following the
2-13 per year for the years of 1971 – 1996.
form of the traditional sequential model. In
Figure 3 shows the breakdown of patents by
1992, Gaskill incorporated internal and
major product development technology.
external factors to her apparel product
This data clearly shows that the last five to
development model. Wicket, Gaskill and
six years have been dominated by patents
Damhorst (1999) tested and expanded the
related to rapid prototyping, computer aided
Gaskill’s 1992 model beyond line
design and digital printing. It is of interest to
presentation to include events and
note that five recent patents (1998, 1999,
considerations in post adoption product
and 2000) have been issued for product
development creating a revised retail apparel
development and this may signify the start
product development model (Wicket,
of a new category of patents related to the
Gaskill & Damhorst, 1999). May-Plumlee
entire subject of product development. The
and Little (1998) developed the No-Interval
U.S. Patents (2001) and its search engine
Coherently Phased Product Development
were used to determine the results in Figures
Model for apparel, which is a six-phase
2 and 3.
apparel product development model. This
Issue Rate of Technology Patents model indicates the involvement of four
functional areas Marketing, Product
30 Development, Merchandising and

20 Production Planning and Control. This

model includes functional overlaps and
5 recycling ideas through previous
71- 85- 91- 95- 97 98 99 2000 development phases for further refinement.
84 90 94 96
Major corporate decisions are shown as
fuzzy gates implying that teams involved in
Figure 2. - Source: U.S.Patents (2001) the product development must collectively

Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
decide on the next stages for a line or The Merchandising Calendar coordinates the
category. The system constraints may vary activities, assigns responsibility and
depending on the type of product line and establishes the required start and stop dates
firms. Some of the examples for these for each major activity throughout the entire
constraints are vendor reliability, raw production process. A part of a time-phased
material availability, customer constraints multi-season merchandising calendar is
such as personal consumption expenditures, shown in the Figure 4, which comprises 40
consumer wants, marketing channel, product development activities and requires
technology available etc. The in-depth about 35 weeks to accomplish the product
examination of each phase of the development process. This is shown as a
development process has been explained form of a Gantt Chart with the activities to
using six stages with detailed explanations be accomplished in a predetermined time
of each (May-Plumlee & Little, 1998). frame. Each task is allotted a set amount of
time and must be completed in this time
Merchandising Calendar frame. The tasks are spread out over weeks
The new product development giving targets so that the future processes
models give an overview of the major will be able to continue without being
functions involved in the process and the delayed by earlier processes (Schertel, 1998;
detailed activities in the product Bertrand, 1982).
development process but do not discuss the Source: AAMA (1991)
planning and scheduling of these activities.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
1 Establish Key Dates
2 Complete Last Season Review
3 Initiate Line Direction
4 Shop Major Retail Markets
5 Visit Major Fashion Shows/Reviews
6 Shop Fabric Sources
7 Order Proto-type yardage
8 Test Proto-type Yardage
9 Complete Retail Sell through Analysis
10 Establish Final Line Direction
11 Finalize Fabrics-Colors
12 Establish Advertising Concepts
13 Develop Initial Yardage Plan
14 Place Initial Fabric Orders
15 Place Initial Sundries Orders
16 Prepare Preliminary Fabric Samples

17 Design Submission Period

18 Product Engineering Evaluation
19 Complete Pre Costing
20 Finalize Construction/Quality Specs
21 Product Engineering Final Costing
22 Advance Breakdown to Manufacturing
23 Advertising Agency Development Review
24 Final Merchandise Development Review
25 Initial Advertising Garments

26 Complete Final Pricing

27 Complete Sales Plan
28 Complete Final Yardage Plan
29 Complete Sundries Plan
30 Establish Manufacturing Schedule
31 Establish Sales Financial Budget
32 Finalize Advertising Concepts
33 Final Management Line/Budget Review
34 Order/Complete Sample Markers
35 Order/Complete Sample Program
36 Start/Stop Graded Pattern/Marker
37 Order/Complete Sales Promotion
38 Final Advertising Meeting
39 Finalize Salesman Booking Targets
40 Sales Meeting

Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
Benchmarking the New Product Product Development Cycle Time
Development Process Product Development Cycle time is
Benchmarking is a formalized the time between designer’s concept and
approach to business improvement and is an when the style is released for production. As
effective tool to facilitate improvements in the number of line seasons increase, and as
all areas of operations, including product the diversity of most product lines expand,
development. It guides the firms to focus on the need to shorten the time required to
areas of greatest weaknesses and allows develop new products becomes more
companies to prioritize their efforts and important.
improvement to be measured. Product development cycle times in
the one to three months range are achievable
Sample Adoption Ratio for fashion garments and in the three to four
Sample Adoption Ratio is the weeks range for basic garments (Strategis,
percentage of product development samples 1994). This product development cycle
that are actually adopted into a line and reduction can allow for more fashion
indicates how efficiently the product seasons, lower product development costs,
development process functions. Because the and significantly increased competitiveness.
cost of product development is typically To achieve this vision, the old vertical
high, optimum process efficiency is structure where one individual or group
becoming increasingly important, passed a product onto the next individual or
particularly in high style environments. group must be replaced by a horizontal
Today, management and structure where local or global teams
merchandisers are reducing the number of develop product in a concurrent approach.
samples by editing the designer's concepts Consumers and retail representatives may
from sketches or CAD illustrations. Sample actually become a part of the product
adoption ratio in 1994 typically measured at development team. It is not only a product
20% to 30% for fashion products and 40% development measure but also a measure of
to 75% for basic and fashion-basic products merchandising excellence. The companies
(Strategis, 1994). Companies that have which focussed on improvement programs
conducted well-focussed improvement have suggested that the cycle time for basic
programs have suggested that the Hit Ratio styles and fashion styles (from concept to
or the number of successful product pre production sample) is 30 to 60 days and
introductions is about 50%, and the 3 months respectively (Sadd, 1996).
percentage of concepts used in the final line
as 30 percent (Sadd, 1996). Manufacturing Cycle
This is defined as the time between
Seasons Per Year receipt of an order and the time when the
Selling seasons are the number of order is shipped to the customer. New
clearly differentiated (by styling, fabric approaches to manufacturing and new
weight, or other factors) selling seasons in a technologies have significantly increased
year. This provides an indication of how productivity and this measurement shows
often new lines are presented. The concept the effectiveness of the production end of an
of buying/selling seasons may be eliminated apparel company's business.
as manufacturers and retailers respond to the
individual demands of each customer. The Sell Through
textile manufacturing process must be Sell Through is the percentage of
modified to support an evolutionary, quick product that is sold at retail at regular price.
turn of new fabric developments. Increasing sell through is critical to increase
Additionally, the retail buying structure profitability and competitiveness. The
must transition to a longer-term dollar marketing and merchandising present the
commitment with the manufacturer. product line to sales and educate the sales
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
force to sell the line according to the profit performance is necessary in the entire
merchandising plan. Therefore this is also a product development process.
measure of line presentation success a). GM and GMROI: The
(AAMA, 1996). More fashion-oriented traditional measure of merchandising
products tend to have lower sell through, success in the retail sector is the Gross
typically in the 20-40% range and basic- Margin (GM) which is the difference
oriented products yielded a higher rate of between net sales and cost of goods sold. A
approximately 45-50%. If a product was more sophisticated indicator of
positioned by the retailer as a promotional merchandising success is the GMROI- gross
vehicle, or had a proliferation of stock margin return on inventory; GM dollars
keeping units (SKUs), the sell through divided by average inventory for a specified
performance could plunge to 25% or less. It period. This recognizes expenses associated
was not until e-commerce emerged that with owning inventory in excess of what is
manufacturers could easily access and required to support sales (AAMA, 1996).
review the last season's performance with b). Return on Equity: This is
the consumer (Strategis, 1994). defined as net income divided by total
equity in an organization, expressed as a
Pick and Ship Times percentage. This benchmark provides an
This is defined as the time between indication of a company’s profit
the receipt of a picking ticket in the performance and of how much profit is
distribution center to the time the product is being generated relative to how much equity
shipped. This benchmark indicates the is being used to earn the profit. The keys to
effectiveness of the distribution center. a good Return on Equity are optimized
Distribution center can use bar-coding financial leverage, high sales revenues on
technology, automated product handling, assets, and expense control.
packing and wrapping equipment etc. to c). Return on Net Assets: The
improve the effectiveness. Return on Net Assets is the operating
earnings before interest and taxes divided by
Initial Forecast Accuracy the net assets of an organization, expressed
The line plans can be evaluated as a percentage. Improvements in this
according to the initial forecast accuracy. measure will result from optimization of
That is, wholesale orders placed as a percent Supply Chain Management practices.
of demand projected when a style or d). Investment per Sales Dollar:
merchandise group is accepted in the line. This is defined as the percentage of each
sales dollar that is committed to systems
Forecast Accuracy improvements. A significant boost in
This is the ratio of actual order systems spending will be necessary as
demand to the forecasted order demand apparel companies move towards greater
expressed as a percentage. As the name integration. Spending will move towards
implies it provides a sense of forecasting implementation of new standards, upgrading
accuracy. hard and soft technologies, pre-production
systems and systems maintenance.
If the structure of the soft goods Order Fulfillment Efficiency
industry evolves as projected, the overall Order Fulfillment Efficiency (OFE)
financial performance of all members of the is the percentage of orders that are filled
chain will improve significantly. However, exactly as placed and defined by the
major investments in time, technology and customer. It is a measure that computes
systems will be required to make this performance from receipt of a customer
happen. To support future investments order until the order is shipped as complete.
required for improved profitability, better OFE depends on an organized replenishment
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
system between the manufacturer and the emphasizes replenishment capability over
retailer; for example, the retailer accepts maintaining high levels of inventory, the
back orders within the original cancel date benchmark category is critical, particularly
(AAMA, 1996). This measure is becoming in commodity products.
more critical as fulfillment requirements are
tightened by retailers. Customer Order Processing Time
This is the time between receipt of a
Textile Inventories customer’s order and its entry into an
This is the average amount of yarn organization’s systems for action.
or fabric inventory in-house, expressed in Technology and process optimizations are
days or weeks. As with the textile order the keys to reducing this time to a minimum
cycle time, increasing linkages between
apparel and textile companies are driving a Finished Goods Inventories
decrease in “in house” textile inventory This is defined as the average
levels. amount of finished product inventory in-
house, expressed in days or weeks. The level
Inventory Turns of finished goods inventory should be
Inventory Turns is the ratio of cost adequate to support order fulfillment
of goods sold to the average of the efficiency requirements.
beginning and ending levels of total
inventory. In other words it is the number of Textile Order Cycle
times the manufacturer uses its average raw The Textile Order Cycle is the time
materials, finishes its average work-in- between placement of an order for yarn or
process, and ships its average finished goods fabric and actual receipt of the yarn or
inventory in a period. The measure is fabric. This benchmark is an indication of
usually in units but could be calculated in the degree of integration that has been
dollars (AAMA, 1996). This benchmark achieved through linkages and electronic
indicates how long a company holds an commerce.
average item of inventory before it is sold.
Too long in inventory will result in high SKU Planning Frequency
carrying costs. Too short in inventory can This measure relates to how
mean loss of sales. To improve inventory frequently a firm plans production as a
turns reductions in processing inventory reaction to changes in forecast or in order
levels at all stages of production will be demand. The frequency can be monthly, bi-
necessary. weekly, weekly or daily (AAMA, 1996).

On-Time Delivery Time from Plan to Cut

This is defined as the percentage of This measure is the time from SKU
orders placed that are actually delivered to planning until cutting is completed and the
the customer within that customer’s delivery cut is ready to go in to the work-in-process
timetable and expectations. inventory. The idea of this measure is to
assure accurate replenishment of the
Order Replenishment Cycle finished goods inventory.
Order Replenishment Cycle is the
time between receipt of a replenishment Shipping Cycle Time
order from a customer to the time the This measures the time from an
replenishment product is received by the order being released to ship until it is
customer. This includes the ordering released to the carrier to be delivered to the
process, order administration process the customer.
order fulfillment cycle time and the shipping
cycle time. In a retail environment, which
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
Shipping Accuracy • Purchasing
A measure of number of units • Logistics
shipped in the correct style, color and size as
a percentage of the total units shipped. • Warehouse Inventory Movement
Other Measures • Finance
New measures for retail logistics, • Sales
retail inventory management, EDI and Bar
• Field Sales Support
Coding have evolved. Little and Heinje
(1998) discussed 3 measures on Retail • Performance Measurement
Logistics, 6 measures on Retail Inventory • External Communications,
Management and 5 performance measures E-Commerce, e-mail, etc.
on EDI and Bar Coding. Also it is of great
need to develop measures for electronic
commerce business in terms of product To date the authors are not aware of any
development. This is to benchmark the total measures to assess the level of system
apparel organization today rather than integration.
measuring the PD process in isolation. This
is of great importance, as the new product Product Development Measures and
development activity needs communication Measures for Getting the New Products to
to all the functions in an organization. the Customer.
It can be clearly seen from Table 1
that the number of measures involved in the
Quantifying the extent of System
Integration product development process has increased
Systems integration will require over time, with the measures becoming
examinations of all processes not just more stringent. This reflects the industry's
focused inspection of specific problems. increased focus in monitoring the PD
Systems are the key to all other competitive process. The measures for getting new
improvement opportunities. Without the products to the customer, as shown in the
synergies of integrating all processes from Table 2, also have increased remarkably
design through delivery, the firm will not over time (Little & Heinje, 1998). For
have the responsiveness required to have a example, according to the Measures for
sustainable business. Excellence report by the Quick Response
An effectively integrated system Leadership Committee of AAMA, there
will tie together the following functions: were 31 measures discussed in 1996 and
more than 40 measures discussed in 1998.
• Marketing
The reason for evolving more company-
• Forecasting wide measures can be suggested as
• Merchandizing integrating the product development process
• Product Line Development in to the company strategy. Some of the
other measures which have not been shown
• Product Design and Specifications here are performance measures related to
• Material Requisition Planning retail electronic data interchange (EDI) and
• Inventory Control Bar Coding practices which were considered
later as benchmarking parameters for the
• Costing
apparel industry. With the evolvement of
• Production Planning and Scheduling virtual technologies it is required to develop
• Sourcing and Manufacturing more and more measures to benchmark the
product development process such as
• Quality Control
performance of virtual samples, quality of
• Human Resources virtual samples etc.
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
Product Development Measures Table 1.
Best in class measures
Sample PD Cycle Manufactu- Sell Pick and Return on Return on Investment Forecast GMROI Cost
Adoption Time ring Cycle Through Ship Time Equity Net Assets per Sales Accuracy Confirm
Ratio Time dollar ance
(%) (weeks) (weeks) (%) (days) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)

(AAMA, 1993) 60 3 (2 to 6 ) 20(5-50)

months days
Apparel Type
Blazers & Jackets 25 16 3 25 3 25 22 2
Bras 75 12 1.5 80 2 18 16 2
Dress Shirts 60 6 1 50 1 20 25 2
Dress Slacks 30 3 60 3 25 22 2
Dresses 35 16 3 30 3 25 22 2
Jeans 50 5 1.5 60 1 30 40 2
Ski Jackets 60 15 5 85 2 22 20 2
Socks 60 6 2 60 2.5 21 19 2.5
Suits 35 5 65 3 25 22 2
T-shirts 90 2 days 85 2 16 11 2

(Bobbin, May 1998) 30 days 1 95 85 31 120

Getting New Products to the Customer Table 2.

Best in class measures
Order Full- Textile Inventory On time Order Customer Finished Textile Floor Auto Retail Retail
fillment Inventories Turns Delivey replenish- Order Goods Order Ready Replenishm- Logistics Inventory
Efficiency ment Cycle Processing Inventory Cycle Time Shipments nt Shipments 3 measures 5 measures
(%) (weeks) (ratio) (%) (days) Time (days) (weks) (weeks) % %

(AAMA, 1993) 85 3 to 5 3.75

Apparel Type
Blazers & Jackets 90 6 4.2 94 3 2 8 12
Bras 95 8 7.5 95 7 2 2 10
Dress Shirts 92 2 6 92 7 0 5 4
Dress Slacks 96 6 3.5 99 3 1 7 13
Dresses 90 6 4.2 93 3 2 7 12
Jeans 96 2 6 95 1 0 4 3
Ski Jackets 92 8 3.5 94 7 1 4 10
Socks 93 1 5 98 4 2 8 2.5
Suits 95 6 3.5 99 3 1 10 13
T-shirts 95 1.5 8 95 3 0 3 1

(Bobbin, May 1998) 99 7.5 99 2 100 80

Changes Anticipated and apparel firms are forming strategic

Apparel manufacturers have alliances. Some apparel companies are
concentrated efforts to reduce manufacturers developing internal textile capabilities or
cycle time and cost. However, the moving operations near key supply
revolutionary nature of the apparel locations.
environment today is forcing manufacturers Benchmark companies are
to examine pre-production processes and achieving product development cycle times
ways to eliminate non-value-adding in the range of five to six weeks. With the
elements. The compression of the typical number of SKUs per season typically
calendar is underway, although many increasing, and with retailers demanding
apparel manufacturers still maintain product shorter lead times, the margin for error in
development cycles with as many as 40 product development must decrease.
distinct steps requiring as long as six Technology needs to be implemented with
months. To reduce lead times and improve an integrated approach to optimize the
flexibility and responsiveness, more textile success rate of new products.

Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
Therefore, benchmark companies (b). Technology for Virtual Product
are implementing structural and Development
technological improvements designed to The premiere performance of the
reduce this risk and improve customer focus. future will be achieved by companies using
Market research and analysis for benchmark advanced technology to radically “reduce
companies is focused, structured and the need for samples”. Virtual reality
formalized. There is increasing use of technology will illustrate all potential
consumer panel data, focus groups and in- designs showing the silhouette in multiple
store testing. Companies will move towards dimensions. The fabric can be viewed at all
a seasonless operating mode, where perspectives and, if a consumer or retailer
merchandising and product development desires to touch the garment, a fabric swatch
will be done continuously. can be provided.
Until virtual reality technology is
Product Development Technology readily available, the manufacturer's product
Available development teams will review pictorial
Improved product development depictions of basic products with customers
structure is enhanced by use of integrated to
computer systems, where all functions can test the acceptance level of a potential
access and use all data on a real time basis. product. This will require a major paradigm
Increasing use of electronic commerce, shift as most buyers today expect to touch
satellite and optical scanning technologies and see an actual garment before making
will link internal and external functions. their commitment to the product. Several
These advances will allow retailers and uniform manufacturers today are using CAD
consumers to take a proactive role in the technology to illustrate proposed designs to
product development process. Computer the customer and have eliminated the need
aided design, retail sell-through analysis, for almost all samples.
pattern grading, costing, style and trend Tremendous potential has arisen
analysis, order tracking, production with the development of virtual reality
scheduling, distribution logistics, and environments, e-commerce and Internet
integration of pre-production, production business. The combination of computer
and post-production processes have become virtual technologies and database internet
the norm. techniques will provide the next generation
The reader can find surveys of effects not only in industries such as film,
product development technologies from the advertising and games but also the fashion.
following sources (Apparelkey, 2001; It is required to adopt this technology fairly
Bobbin, 1999; Bobbin Buyer’s Guide, 2000; soon in the fashion industry as textile and
& Techexchange, 2001). fashion products have a short market life
and their success is dependent upon fashion
(a). Rapid Prototyping, Body Scanning, styles and price. The fashion, textiles and
Digital Printing and Computer apparel industries are moving towards
Aided Design global retailing or remote shopping with the
Information on a detail study of concept of enabling customers to purchase
these technologies can be obtained from garments by conducting “virtual try-on”
“Rapid Prototyping in the Textile & Apparel using their own body size and shape. At this
Industry: A Pilot Project “ by Istook (2000). stage, the virtual human modeling concept
Figure 3 of this paper shows the evolvement has become very important and research is
of product development technologies that underway to develop 3D systems for online
continue to drive the product development 3D human measurement and reconstruction
process. for virtual try-on for global retailing. The
idea is to capture and analyze 3D body
profiles using an online image measurement
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
and processing system and store them in a ordering cycle times can be achieved. This
SQL server database which can be reduces the need for textile inventories and
interfaced with global retailing (Stylios, provides improved manufacturing
Han, & Wan, 2001; My Virtual Model, responsiveness.
2001; Browzwear, 2001) The entire manufacturing process
can be done via a home through personal
(c). Whole Garment Knits: computers and cyberspace. Engineering will
The new knitting equipment has become web centric, where designs will be
highly advanced design software, which developed, reviewed, and approved
allows patterns to be downloaded to the electronically (Ai SpecNet, 2000; FitNet,
knitting machine directly, and knitting the 2000; Internet Commerce Committee, 2001
whole garment thereby virtually eliminating & WebPDM, 2001).
set-up time. As companies are linked The evolution of the Internet has
through computer networks between provided the means for sharing
designers, purchasers, manufacturers, technical/product information among the
suppliers and off-shore agents, they share personnel involved in the business. With a
common databases of information that are universal, low-cost, high-performance
progressively built throughout the process, network it has transformed how companies
updated on a daily basis, and accessed at any conduct every aspect of their businesses. In
time (Shima Seiki, 2001). order to stay in the pace with this e-
commerce environment the product
(d). Web based information transfer development function has developed rapidly
technology in the recent past. From marketing through
The environments in which textile the World Wide Web to transforming
and apparel companies are operating today purchase orders into customer products it is
are becoming increasingly dynamic, diverse, no doubt that this is an important
complex and hostile. In this environment the requirement.
need for relevant, timely, accurate and cost
effective information is paramount. (e). Automatic Language Translation
Companies today are linking computer Language translation is necessary
networks between designers, purchasers, for businesses to be successful in local
manufacturers, suppliers and offshore markets around the world but translation is
agents. All parties share a common database expensive and can cause significant delays
of information that is progressively built in getting products to markets. Many of the
throughout the process, updated on a daily documents that are translated by businesses
basis, and accessed at any time by all. today are highly repetitive in nature, or are
Companies who provide this facility provide the result of a modification or update to an
a secure transmission and communication of existing document. Therefore a significant
all product specifications in terms of files. part of the translation effort involves
The system provides a facility to build work translating, again and again, the same text
groups so that the communication is more often with minor and subtle variations.
productive between established groups. Companies with large document translation
The most significant change is in the needs, often find that managing the
way retailers, apparel companies and textile translation process is as difficult as actually
suppliers share information. The textile doing the translation itself. As a company's
supplier needs to know as early as possible translation requirements increase, quality
what future requirements may be, so as to and time to market become increasingly
replenish the products that are selling. important. Companies are available today,
Fabric ordering must be timely, and equally which provides translation management
importantly, it must be accurate. With software and consulting services. Several
effective linkages, reductions in textile companies are developing languages based
Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001
on symbols to communicate the (1999, July) Bobbin, Vol. 40 (11).
specifications for new and existing products
(World of Sewing, 2001; Language Partners, Bobbin Buyer’s Guide (2000):
2001). http://www.bobbin.com.

Summary Browzwear (2001):

The Product Development function http://www.browzwear.com
in the textile and apparel industry appears to
be gaining activity as we examine the Burns, L.D. & Bryant, N.O. (1997) The
measures of recent progress represented in Business of Fashion, Designing
Patents and Papers. The increasing number Manufacturing and Marketing, Fairchild
of product development measures and Publications, New York: New York.
technology improvements will lead to new
competitive practices in product FitNet (2000): http://www.lectra.com
development. A new challenge will be to
develop appropriate measures to identify the Gaskill,L.(1992) Toward a model of retail
extent of system integration and how to product development: A case study analysis.
measure the effectiveness of the virtual Clothing and Textile Research Journal,
product development methodologies being Vol.10 (4), 17-24.
used to create new products.
Internet Commerce Committee (2001):
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Volume 1, Issue 3, Spring 2001