At a Glance:
For fashion and apparel brands across the globe, the time has come to celebrate another Chinese New Year. Whether you’re a new organization or a team of seasoned professionals, Chinese New Year impacts the industry in more ways than one. Follow along as we discuss this holiday and tips to prepare for the yearly tradition.
What is Chinese New Year?
First thing first, what is Chinese New Year? Also called Lunar New Year, this tradition is vastly different compared to a typical New Year’s Eve celebrated in Western culture. Citizens are granted seven days off from work as Chinese New Year is declared a public holiday. However, some companies will participate in the festivities for up to 16 days, starting with Chinese New Year’s Eve and ending with the annual Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.
Because the Chinese calendar is Lunisolar, the celebration varies each year between January 21 and February 16 based on the moon cycles. The New Year is recognized on the first new moon, with each year commemorating an animal chosen according to the Chinese zodiac. The upcoming year honors those born during the Year of the Year of the Wood Dragon, starting on February 10th, 2024, and lasting until January 28th, 2025. Those born in this year are said to be confident, intelligent, and enthusiastic.
Chinese New Year and the Fashion Industry
The Lunar New Year welcomes a unique fashion habit: the annual purge and splurge. Keeping with Chinese traditions, it is customary to clean your home and rid your living space of any bad luck or misfortune amassed over the past year. “Out with the old, in with the new” is the common mantra during this time. Clothing is often given as a gift, most frequently to those who are not yet married. It is unfavorable to wear old, tarnished attire during the New Year, which is why red clothing (even underwear) is in peak demand, symbolizing luck and happiness.
During this celebration, factory workers take up to three weeks off to travel and visit family. To prepare for this lull, it is common for first-quarter product development to begin as early as August of the previous year. Most fashion labels design new styles six months in advance, and for products expecting a release in February or March, planning is often extended to eight months.
Industry professionals should remain atop of deadlines and submit all purchase orders and sample requests at least one month before the imminent vendor shut down, if not sooner. Sending samples to factories as early as possible reduces your time to market and helps profit margins trend in the right direction to begin the calendar year.
This January is the final cutoff date for brands to get products to factories before production comes to a halt in February. Some merchandise contacts may still be available during part of the holiday, but it’s unlikely your brand will receive any quotes or communicate with suppliers during the Chinese New Year festivities.
Keep in mind that dye mills and ports will likely shut down as well. With the current supply chain disruptions off the coast of Southern California to boot, delays are imminent if your brand is not prepared. Shipping and receiving goods is a costly operation, so communicate often with your factories to have a clear understanding of timelines and when to expect closures.
Without the usual vendor disruptions, this brief period can be somewhat quiet for fashion and apparel brands. Chinese New Year is the perfect time to reflect on your brand strategy, create new styles, and organize product data. While production slows, it’s still full steam ahead for designers and developers working to align product and component libraries for the upcoming season.
Before your brand races to the finish line, be sure your teams are prepared for the New Year with the help of a dynamic, cloud-based product development software like Backbone PLM.
How Can My Fashion Brand Prepare for Chinese New Year?
Backbone helps brands create tech packs ahead of deadlines and maintain organization throughout the product development cycle. When teams can build tech packs with greater efficiency than manual reporting tools, this reduces sampling rounds and revisions, limits material costs, and allows your brand to get products to market faster.
The main goal of a tech pack is to act as the reference point for your design teams and your factory to properly align on the raw materials and required product specifications needed to create new styles or products, including images, files, layouts, sketches, and size specs.
Creating tech packs in Backbone allows developers to reuse sample templates for numerous products in your catalog, preventing costly errors, inaccuracies, or duplicate items from slipping through the cracks. Using manual spreadsheets to create tech packs can take days and sometimes weeks, making it much more likely to fall behind right before the end of the year.
PLM tools like Backbone utilize both product and component data to create tech packs in a hurry, which can be sent directly from the platform to factories, internal teams, or anyone else in minutes without getting lost in jumbled email reports. This streamlined process saves your design and development teams hours of work and lessens the risk of confusion.
Your brand should also receive more accurate quotes from your suppliers when product information is easy to access and understand. If manufacturers are forced to guess what to include in your product, this can lead to pricing discrepancies and slow the development process. Well-done tech packs allow clear communication and kick off an efficient pre-production process. Keeping product specifications up to a high standard will ultimately improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction over time, translating to faster profits.
When sending a tech pack to your suppliers before the Chinese New Year, be prepared to include the following items:
- Product sketches: Back, side, and front views of the product that show what needs to be featured in the design
- Construction details: Fabric type, buttons, stitching, seams, finishing, elasticities, reinforcements, zippers, custom color palettes, and so on.
- Callouts and revisions: The visual representation of your product that internal teams can reference to make changes to dimensions, sizes, and features
- Colorways and artwork: Designers can manage component colorways, and Backbone includes built-in access to all Pantone libraries for no additional cost
- Size specs: Product measurements and size specs are often the bulk of a tech pack, as each design size requires its own unique set of standard or metric measurements
- Bill of materials (BOM): BOM templates provide a starting point for new products to be adjusted for individual components, in addition to organizing the manual list of the raw materials required to manufacture specific products
Related Article: What is a Tech Pack? How to Make One
The factory shutdown also provides temporary environmental relief for the world’s most populous nation. China is the fastest-growing consumer market, on top of being the largest clothing and textile exporter across the globe. Our damaged dresser wear and castaway closet attire also made their way back to China until they banned imports of foreign waste in 2017. While China endures the weight of our lust for fashion, society continues to reel from the ever-lasting effects of consumption and waste.
Statistics reported by Mckinsey Sustainability claim the number of garments produced annually doubled between 2000 and 2016, exceeding 100 billion for the first time in 2014. Consumers now buy 60 percent more clothing per year and only keep garments for half as long as they did at the new millennium, indicating a shift in our clothing-obsessed culture. As a society, consumers crave what’s new and what’s trending. When clothes are no longer seen as “in style,” they are simply tossed aside or thrown away, left to occupy our landfills.
According to United Nations Climate Change, 10 percent of carbon emissions and 20 percent of industrial water pollution stem from the fashion industry’s energy-consuming production cycles. From lengthy supply chains to incinerated textiles to harmful fabric treatments, the fashion industry expends more hazardous energy than both the aviation and shipping industry combined.
As for those in China, the environmental impacts are far too real. Arsenic is a chemical element often found in textile finishing and commonly used in China’s garment manufacturing. If arsenic contaminates drinking water, it is believed to cause cancer and other deadly illnesses. A 2017 ecology and environment study published by China Water Risk declared roughly 37.4% of the country’s largest bodies of water are unsafe, high-risk pollution zones, due in large part to China’s fabric and textile production.
Related Article: 4 Ways Your Fashion Brand Can Become More Sustainable
Reasons to Rejoice
While there are plenty of staggering statistics behind fashion’s global effects on the environment, the Chinese New Year is a time for fashion brands to reflect on their sustainability goals and standards. Mckinsey Sustainability also reported that 65 percent of market consumers seek sustainable fashion, and 69 percent of Chinese consumers believe in the importance of sustainable apparel.
Backbone’s platform provides clear visibility and access to compliance records, approved material lists, and a streamlined method for teams to collaborate on environmental best practices. As companies begin to place greater value toward long-term sustainability and strategic business solutions, 48 percent of customers say Backbone is helping them define, track, and optimize their sustainability efforts. Making informed, data-backed decisions on consumption, product creation, and sample development saves time and money spent on inventory loss, wasted materials, transportation, and labor.
Related Article: Managing Sample Development
Happy (Chinese) New Year
For fashion and apparel brands looking to organize tech packs, submit samples, and communicate deadlines with suppliers before Chinese New Year, an all-encompassing product development tool is your best solution. The power of digital is disrupting the way fashion is consumed and how brands prepare their product to align with vendors. The fashion economy is fueled by millennial and Gen Z shoppers looking to support new technology and sustainable business models with a racing ethical pulse. Therefore, adopting a dynamic PLM is just one strategy for brands to manage fashion initiatives and evolving technologies within the industry.
Working in a cloud-based system, Backbone enables your company to increase productivity, build products at digital speed, and hit the market faster than your competitors. Backbone also provides clear insights into all product-related data, optimizing design workflows, sustainability efforts, and material costs to ensure products drive revenue and expand your brand’s reach.
Once the crackle of New Year fireworks begins to dim, trade-in your red garbs for a more refreshing hue — we think you’d look great in Backbone blue! If your brand is interested in Backbone’s functionality, take a look at our collection of case studies, blogs, and customer reviews to learn more.
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