Clothing companies can reap rich rewards from using a product lifecycle management (PLM) system, with faster time-to-market one of the clearest advantages of using these tools. But connecting to other business processes is also opening up new possibilities – and major advances in the software’s capabilities now make it the core data hub that brings together planning, design, sourcing, production, logistics and replenishment.

In this, the third issue of just-style magazine, we look at how companies can fuel growth through strategic use of PLM to help reduce errors and inefficiencies, while increasing visibility and communication. A case in point: connecting and integrating PLM with 3D design and virtual prototyping activities helps brands and retailers to digitally ‘join the dots’ in the supply chain.

But PLM systems also have a central role to play as the clothing industry embraces aspects of Industry 4.0, such as smart factories and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Looking beyond technology, we also touch on the top sourcing challenges facing US fashion firms – not least of which are ongoing trade uncertainty, and a spike in the cost of sourcing from Bangladesh, Vietnam and India – the main alternatives to China.

And we share advice on how the buying practices of Western brands have a crucial role to play in supporting a virtuous sourcing circle in Ethiopia. The East African country is building its garment manufacturing sector as a potential path to economic development, but foreign brands and investors need to tread carefully to ensure it is profitable for both companies and workers.

Leonie Barrie, Editor

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