Did you know that prior to the industrial revolution, most clothes were made-to-order, often-times, completely bespoke. While times have changed and made-to-order items are now a luxury most can’t afford, we can still learn lessons from the past in understanding how mass production, without an understanding of demand, contributes to significant waste, and how pre-ordering could be the answer to this significant problem.
Inventory mis-estimation is perhaps the most significant problem in the retail industry today. Over 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced each year, and from that enormous amount, 20-30% of those items go unsold, often ending up in landfills. In short, overproduction is fashion’s biggest problem. The solution? Pre-ordering.
Whether as a sole sales model or a supplement to traditional sales, brands are realizing that they can contribute to this solution by working with their customers to produce exactly what is demanded, and to also gage the true wants and needs of the customer. No more failed lines or blowout sales, which feed the endless machine of fast fashion and provide less profit that would otherwise be used for fueling innovation and sustainable practices.
Pre-ordering certainly looks to be the way of the future, and as the trend of B2C retail continues to evolve, brands and customers are becoming more empowered to look at buying in an entirely new light. Here are the many ways in which pre-ordering benefits the environment and the future of retail as we know it.
Prevents waste in overproduction
In standard production models, overproduction is pretty much baked in. Many brands produce with their ideal sales scenarios in mind, which are very much a guesstimate, especially with new products. Approximating which sizes will sell best, which colours will be most popular, and accounting for little or no production problems is incredibly difficult and often off-the-mark. By taking in pre-orders, brands know exactly what to produce without producing unnecessary waste. This means fewer unsold items in a landfill.
Leftover fabric, also called deadstock, is a very real result of overproduction. While many innovative brands are now trying harder to identify and use deadstock across the world, it’s not enough to account for all that still ends up in landfills. By helping brands to more carefully calculate exactly what they need in production, deadstock levels are drastically cut and instead used up for their intended purpose without excess.
Better Quality Items
Big brands with massive production quantities and tight schedules are under constant pressure to produce items as quickly and cheaply as possible. Aside from the ethical questions this raises, items are simply held to a lower standard, and run through factory processes in ways that often lead to questionable quality. With mass production, there is rarely close attention to detail, simply because it’s not possible. Pre-ordering cuts down the time pressure immensely and allows a product to be built on a time-table that can cater to quality and a better overall product.
Prevents Impulse Buying
While we love a good impulse buy, we know that an over-consumptive society that is hooked on impulsivity in buying, only fuels the worse parts of the fashion industry. We have to ask ourselves is it worth it to continually fan the flames over fast-fashion, rather than step back and realize how empty impulse buying can feel, versus how satisfying a well-though out purchase with a little anticipation can be. This is not an all or nothing issue, but rather an eye-opening perspective that can slowly shift our habits for the better. Do we need it NOW or can we wait?
Fair Trade and Labor Conditions
Another by-product of fast schedules and over production is often poor working conditions and unfair labor practices. With more thoughtful production comes the ability to hire skilled laborers, support artisans and create truly exclusive items that provide fair wages, quality working conditions, and production that don’t force rapid turnover or unrealistic output.
Helps Fund New, Better Collections
When brands can see clearly where the demand lies before producing an item, they are able to put more resources into making those items better in all sorts of ways. From sourcing better material, to adding features or details, designers expand and innovate in the areas that matter, rather than putting something out into the world with no gage on how it will be received. With money saved in avoiding over-production, this becomes a domino effect, allowing more time, money, and effort to be spent on bettering collections and products that are truly valued.
More Sizes and Inclusivity
If you’ve ever rushed to buy a product and to only be abruptly disappointed when your size is no longer available or, you happen to be a size that is rarely carried or made, you know well the frustrations of production versus demand. Size inclusivity is a real issue with major brands, which is an unfortunate outcome of how retail brands plan and forecast production. In a pre-order model, there is opportunity to make available more sizes in a strategic way, which takes away risk on the brand end, and provides the customer with the fit they need.
You Save Money
The nice thing about pre-orders is that they often come with a discount, which allows you to save some money before you get the item, rather than waiting for an item to go on sale and finding it in a discount bin in an off-season. Both the customer and the brand are taken care of in this model, which is more sustainable and easy on the earth. It’s a win-win.
Vivida Lifestyle consistently works to create and build their products around sustainable practices, fibers, and innovations. They consistently utilise pre-ordering as a way to better their products, provide the best for their customers, and do good for the environment. Built for the adventurers, dreamers, thinkers, and doers, Vivida aims to inspire a deeper connection to nature and the wonder it provides. Discover their dry changing robes, poncho towels, eco neoprene, swimwear, and more at www.vividalifestyle.com.