We set out to build the best tool set for product development of apparel and footwear, and have achieved our goal with STYLEman PLM, our web-based Product Lifecycle Management solution.
With STYLEman PLM we have gone beyond the focus on development of a single design, to encompass the development of an entire range. The definition of “range” here may be a collection for a season (or capsule, delivery date, etc.), or styles in development for a specific customer, or any subset of a brand. It simply represents a group of styles with a common goal, be that a catwalk show, exhibition, photo shoot or sales meeting. You can create a range calendar geared specifically to your ranges and events, with locked critical dates that are inherited by all the styles in the range. This feature is at the core of STYLEman PLM, and underpins the workflow engine to drive on-time product development.
Management have facilities to visually overview the entire range position on a single screen, with problem areas immediately obvious using a traffic light paradigm. A similar overview is available to show where the bottleneck processes are in product development, so that work can be reassigned in order to get back on track.
Beyond that, STYLEman PLM has features to analyse your ranges by any of the unlimited criteria you can define and associate with the product; for example, the designer, supplier, fabric content, country of origin, garment type, product developer or price point. For any of these criteria in any combination, you can examine what proportion of the range each represents, as well as checking the projected volumes, costs and margins. You can even use these facilities to balance the range, and also check the colour balance, dropping or adding styles and colours.
One of several ways to get an overview of styles in development is to use the Style Summary, which shows a box for each style, gives a thumbnail of the critical path status and has icons to dig deeper into the style with a single click.
The layout of the Style Summary can be customised for each user, and the styles arranged for either aesthetic or priority reasons.
At the heart of STYLEman PLM is a sophisticated Critical Path management tool that is designed to ensure that all activities are completed in a timely fashion, and each activity is the responsibility of an individual or partner organisation.
Critical Paths can be viewed individually as in this example, or presented as representations of entire sections of the range in a variety of different formats: by activity, by responsibility, by team etc.
Costing Comparison by Source and Destination
If your business is potentially purchasing the style from more than one supplier and/or shipping the style to more than one destination, this program allows immediate comparisons of the landed cost to one or many ultimate destinations. Using costing tables within the application for elements such as freight, duty and quota, the program can immediately calculate the best place to source and land the style, as well as indicate suggested RRPs for destination markets.
Flexible costing formats may be created, and styles released to multiple suppliers for costing. You can even use different costing bases, such as one supplier costing on a CMT basis and another fully factored.
STYLEman PLM has been conceived and designed as a web-based system and can be accessed 24 hours a day on PCs, Macs and Linux clients, and even tablets and mobile devices. It is developed in UK English and we provide the tools to translate into any language you like—including Chinese. This also means that STYLEman PLM can be fully personalised for your corporate terminology.
At the heart of STYLEman PLM is the Style Manager function. This is a tabbed folder where authorised users can access all of the information associated to a style. Shown below is the “Main” tab where the categorisation of the style, thumbnail image, and “unlimited” style attributes are held.
Further tabs are available for notes and images, colours and sizes, grading tables and fit sessions, care labels and lab tests, bills of material and labour, costing cards, critical path, quotation management, quality control and version history.
Notes, Pictures and Attachments
STYLEman PLM is the repository for all documents associated with a style’s development. The system can hold not only drawings, diagrams and photos, but also any other type of document that may be relevant, including incoming fax images, catwalk or manufacturing video, audio clips and office documents. You can define some structure to the attachments by creating named Sections to hold different types of documents, and then uploading the attachments into the right section.
Notes can be attached to any of the images or attachments, in either structured or unstructured formats. Facilities exist to create your own forms and attach them to styles, using flexible notes templates.
Sampling and Fit Sessions
STYLEman PLM can issue instructions to make samples and prototypes, of single sizes or indeed a fully graded set. STYLEman PLM has the ability to record actual measurements against any number of pre-defined fit session types (for example, Proto, Red Seal, Gold Seal).
Once the garments have been received, they can be measured and compared against the style standard grading table measurements and tolerances, where any variations will be highlighted. Feedback can be given to the supplier, further examples ordered and a full history is kept within STYLEman PLM.
When we ask companies how they manage their Product Development processes, the most common tool being used is Microsoft Excel. For this reason, we developed a Merchandiser Report layout that closely mimics a spreadsheet. The merchandiser can select and filter the details shown as you can with a report generator, but there are two additional benefits: firstly, the information shown in the browser is completely real-time; and secondly, changes to costs, critical path dates, style attributes, for example, can be made in the spreadsheet view and immediately update the database.