As the fashion industry shifts to operating online, a new opportunity has arisen for a platform to connect suppliers and brands.
The production of clothing and accessories is by far the most challenging and complicated process of the fashion cycle, and one that requires a unique set of skills. Sourcing is one of those skills, a necessity for small brands to find affordable producers, and for manufacturers to secure new business. With the cancelation of trade shows and global travel embargoes, sourcing has become equally challenging for fashion businesses and producers alike.
Fashion producers are rarely digital natives
The search for suppliers online has often brought mixed results. Many localized factories do not have websites, or are vague in the services they offer and even less transparent when it comes to pricing. The cost of producing clothing is based on a multitude of complicated factors, not least the number of units to be made, and the quality and finish required.
Manufy, a Dutch start-up, aims to be a “European Alibaba” with its new marketplace that links buyers and manufacturers in the quest of sustainable fashion sourcing.
“Sustainable and local sourcing has become increasingly important the last few years,” said Manufy co-founder and CEO Rob ten Hoove. “Covid-19 hit European clothing manufacturers hard: closure of factories, brands stalling production and shipments put on hold made it difficult for manufacturers to remain profitable. We hope we can help them reach new customers.”
The platform is open to European manufacturers only, which, seeing the challenges in finding localized experts in garment production to build a comprehensive database, is no easy task.
FashionUnited spoke to Michiel Dickers, Manufy co-founder and head of sales and press, on how Manufy aims to forge the links between suppliers and brands.
How do you source suppliers and local manufacturers when many small companies operate outside the wider international fashion industry?
“As of now we use multiple ways to reach manufacturers; email, Linkedin and direct contact with companies that have more affinity and experience with operating online. Currently we are working to collaborate with existing offline tradeshows to become a digital partner and hope we can reach harder to find manufacturers via this channel.” Believing in the value of word-of-mouth “we hope ‘happy brands’ will tell us more about their manufacturers so we can offer a platform for even the smallest of suppliers.”
Supply chain transparency is only a recent outcome of the sustainability movement. Many brands, however, are not keen on sharing supplier info and at the same time many suppliers are out of reach for emerging designers as they require high quantities and minimums. How does Manufy reconcile this in its database?
“Brands on our platform have private conversations with the manufacturers of their liking. The way they communicate about their sources on their own channels is their own choice. We hope we can stimulate a fashion industry that will be more open and transparent about its choices, but simultaneously understand that we still have a long road ahead.”
“For manufacturers we offer an interesting database, that can help brands of any size find the right production partner. Minimum order quantities don’t always have to be high and sometimes young manufacturers can grow together with their clients.”
Currently in beta mode, Manufy could be precisely what the fashion industry needs: transparency and access to allow for win-win situations for both brand and supplier.
Founded in 2019, the company launched when a group of Dutch entrepreneurs recognised a lack of representation of European manufacturers on online marketplaces. The platform aims to connect European buyers, manufacturers and freelancers by supporting local sourcing and helping businesses find sustainable solutions to production.
For further information visit www.manufy.com.
Image via Manufy.com