Logistics and Fashion: An Unlikely Marriage?

An editor from the "Fashion Bible" talks about the growing role of the supply chain in retail success.

Fashion and logistics don’t seem like they have much in common. But to WWD, they are two sides of the same coin.

The Manhattan-based publication, long known as Women’s Wear Daily, wants to cover the intersection of the business of fashion and the logistics behind it.

Longitudes spoke with WWD Executive Editor Arthur Zaczkiewicz about current retail trends and what’s next for the industry.

Longitudes: WWD was once known as Women’s Wear Daily and considered the Fashion Bible. Why did you change the name?

Arthur: We’re still known as the Fashion Bible. We’ve been using WWD as our banner logo for decades with Women’s Wear Daily spelled out below on the masthead.

The change to just WWD was done out of necessity to reflect new times. At this stage in our 100-plus year history, it also just makes sense to simply be WWD.

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The see-now, buy-now trend has put more pressure on the supply chain.

Longitudes: We’ve noticed a shift toward more logistics and supply chain coverage. Talk to us about that change.

Arthur: That’s interesting and perhaps has more to do with a change in the perception in the market. Since our founding, we’ve always covered how goods make it to market – the supply chain.

Our fiber pricing and shipping reports were the most read. In the early part of the century, WWD readers relied on us to deliver news about the state of cotton sourcing and trends in the wool industry, as well as news about imports and exports of fur and other materials.

Over time, as the industry changed, we focused on intercontinental shipping and sourcing, as well as trucking and logistics.

Regarding the latter, the first time we wrote about logistics was in 1943. It was in regard to a newly published booklet that described the “science of moving armies and supplies” and how the “lessons learned from the transportation problems caused by the war” could be used in peacetime business.

The Trailer Co. of America, which became an advertiser in WWD, published the booklet.

Retailing, technology and consumer behavior, as well as greater focus on fashion, design and luxury, have overshadowed our supply chain and logistics coverage. But over the past two years, we’ve been consciously trying to better showcase our supply chain and logistics content.

Longitudes: How are fashion and logistics intertwined?

Arthur: They are two sides of the same coin. Changing consumer preferences, including the rapid growth of online shopping as well as BOPIS (Buy Online Pick up In Store) and m-commerce, have transformed fashion apparel shopping. It creates an impenetrable connection between fashion and logistics.

[Read the WWD article about how UPS powers holiday deliveries]

The see-now, buy-now trend – as well as fast fashion and season-less fashion – has also put more pressure on brands and retailers and the supply chain.

Longitudes: How has this changed in the last few years? The last few decades?

Arthur: We’ve seen a complete transformation in how goods are sourced and produced and how items are stocked, priced and sold. And we no longer see the selling of items at highly profitable price points.

Markdowns and promotions are expected, and shoppers are in the driver’s seat in regard to product pricing and demand. That transformation has also shifted the basic structure of the supply chain. The emergence of fulfillment centers and new points of distribution have created challenges for brands and retailers.

Longitudes: What role does the supply chain play in the success – or lack thereof – in retail?

Arthur: Just as logistics is the science of moving goods from one place to another and continues to play a critical role in the industry, running the entire supply chain is equally important. This means managing a global supply chain that is sustainable and efficient – and transparent too.

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If there are any hiccups along the supply chain, the disruptions can be serious and costly.

Today’s supply chain is intricately connected. And if there are any hiccups along the supply chain, the disruptions can be serious and costly. Having technology such as PLM software is helpful, but working with trusted partners is also equally important.

Longitudes: How has e-commerce changed fashion?

Arthur: E-commerce is the driving force behind the reinvention of fashion apparel and retailing. The entire consumer shopping experience has radically changed – in a good way.

Shoppers today crave a friction-free experience in stores and online, which means ensuring that goods are in stock and delivered in a timely way. More importantly, e-commerce requires trust – between the consumer, the e-tailer, the payment provider and the fulfillment provider.

Additionally, brands are engaging in more direct-to-consumer (DTC) efforts, which puts a spotlight on having robust e-commerce and fulfillment capabilities.

Longitudes: What’s next for WWD’s coverage of the blurring line between fashion and logistics?

Arthur: The DTC trend will continue to grow, which means opportunities for emerging brands. I see our coverage focusing more on emerging designers who are leveraging e-commerce technologies to sell directly to shoppers.

The consumer demand for non-traditional brands will also grow. Shoppers – especially Millennials – are increasingly seeking out brands and concepts that can surprise and delight them.

So I think the marriage between logistics (and sourcing) and fashion will only get closer over time.

Arthur Zaczkiewicz is Executive Editor of Strategic Content Development at WWD. His work includes data-driven reports, market analysis, breaking news and industry insights.

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