Fast Fashion Achieving Global Quick

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Fast Fashion: Achieving Global Quick Response (GQR) in the Internationally Dispersed Clothing Industry Bart L. MacCarthy and P.G.S.A. Jayarathne

Abstract The clothing industry is one of the most mobile industries in the world. Global supply poses significant challenges in ensuring the right volume and mix of products within retail stores. Here we define a new concept – Global quick response (GQR) – which strives to combine the cost and scale efficiencies arising from sourcing globally with quick and accurate response to market requirements. GQR is based on lead time compression, effective information management, dynamic planning, and strong logistics. We examine GQR in the context of the new garment development process, the initial volume order process, and the repeat order process, and discuss its requirements with respect to market intelligence, rapid new product introduction, network structure, network planning, and network capability. The importance of staged planning postponement is noted, where commitments to precise mix requirements are delayed as late as possible in the supply process. Different operational approaches for achieving GQR are possible, from fully integrated, centrally controlled systems to response based on contractual relationships. Two contrasting examples from practice – Zara and Primark – are noted. GQR offers significant opportunities for further research both in the clothing sector and more widely. Keywords Clothing industry Fast fashion Global quick response Order fulfilment Postponement Quick response Supply chain management

1 Introduction
The textile and clothing sectors are fundamental to the world economy. International trade in the combined sector has increased 60-fold during the past 40 years, a period characterized by major increases in the globalization of business, deregulation, and B.L. MacCarthy (B) Nottingham University Business School, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK e-mail: bart.maccarthy@nottingham.ac.uk T.C. Edwin Cheng and T.-M. Choi (eds.), Innovative Quick Response Programs in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, International Handbooks on Information Systems, DOI 10.1007/978-3-642-04313-0 3, c Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010 37

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B.L. MacCarthy and P.G.S.A. Jayarathne

gradual removal of quotas (UNCTAD 2005). The textile sector covers the production and processing of the primary textile materials – the natural and synthetic fibers, yarns, and fabrics used in a wide variety of industrial, medical, household furnishings, and clothing applications. Here we are concerned with the clothing industry, which is “fed” by the textile industry, primarily by textile fabric producers but in some categories by yarn producers as well. International export trade in clothing increased by approximately 118% in the period 1990–2003 (UNCTAD 2005). The clothing industry is also one of the most mobile industries in the world (Martin 2007). Over the last two decades, complex global supply networks have emerged to supply clothing to world markets. The nature of these global networks poses significant challenges for quick and accurate response in the clothing sector. Ensuring the right product volume and mix within retail stores from a globally dispersed supply network requires innovative operational strategies and practices. Quick response (QR) has been a dominant theme in the clothing sector for almost two decades (Hunter 1990; Cooper et al. 1997; Al-Zubaidi and Tyler 2004; Holweg 2005; Birtwistle et al. 2006). QR is premised on understanding precise market demands and on compressing key components of lead time to supply those demands quickly and accurately. However, much of the emphasis in QR initiatives has been on internal production systems. When the value chain is geographically dispersed with diverse forms of supply chain relationships and ownership patterns, QR requires a global perspective. Here we define a new concept, Global quick response (GQR),...
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