The story of the little blue dress

Digitally Printed Little 'Bluish' Dress
Digitally Printed Little 'Bluish' Dress

Ever wondered why, even when shopping takes a long time you always end up buying something.  I know that speaking about this subject is a bit strange in a printing industry.  Shopping has no relevance to our business or does it?

Well let me tell you the story of the little blue dress. This dress was hanging in the shop window surrounded by great and brilliant soft signage prints – surprise surprise!   You know me!   Yes, the soft signage was printed on a deco textile with the silicon band attached to it and it was beautifully positioned in an aluminum frame in the centre of the window display.

Inside the store is where the action is, this is the place where you can touch, and feel the little blue dress, and yes there are more little dresses. The dresses come in  different colours - green, red and blue. Strangely enough there is only one size and one colour of each dress available in the store.   The strategy is simple: If there is only one dress in your size left in the shop you just might have the urge to buy it.   Imagine leaving the store to look for another shop then somebody comes along and buys your little blue dress before you can come back to buy it - this would be a disaster.  So, you make the decision and buy the little blue dress in your size and you feel really happy that you managed to buy the last one in the store. This gives you a good feeling. It’s a nice dress and it’s YOURS!

Let’s look at the reality of the situation – there are other other aspects apart from psychology at play here in the buying process.  The dress was made using digital textile printing and smart production systems.

Step one: The owner of the retail chain has a very intelligent MIS system in place.  This tells him exactly, per day, what he is selling in each store.  He can therefore re-order the sold product directly from his production centre and in the exact amount of little blue, red or green dresses. Not only can he assess accurate sales information but he can detect trends of which sizes and colours are more popular in each region and country.  It also gives the retailer an opportunity to move stock from one store to another which means better stock control and reduced costs.

Step two: The retailer started by having only one size per colour per shop. This was important, as he noticed that women and men have the same attitude when shopping.  Once they see something they like they immediately worry that somebody else may buy the item and they will feel they missed out especially if there is only one garment left in the right size and colour.  The retailer uses this psychology as a ploy to increase sales.  He knows the pressure you feel to buy the item even though there might be more little dresses in the back of the store – that’s a risk you take!

Step three: Here is where digital textile printing comes in to force.  This process means that your little blue dress is being produced again and again and will be back in the store in less than 3 days.  In other words, it can always be made available with the same story happening over and over.

We are seeing an increase in the production of fashion textiles using dye sublimation printed fabrics.  These production methods are simple and the process is fast. Textiles can now be printed and produced in Europe and manufactured/confectioned in low wage countries in the EU or Morocco.  This also means that very short production cycles and small production runs can be achieved in Europe reducing the need for production in countries further afield such as East Asia.

High volume production is no longer necessary.  Today textile retailers are working with these trends and utilizing the benefits of European production sites.  Shorter runs using dye sublimation printing offers profitability and excellent business prospects.  One key advantage is the elimination of the enormous amounts of waste.  This reduces overall costs and can improve cash flow.

In the traditional textile retail industry you would produce 10.000 red, blue and green dresses and hope that you would sell all 30.000 of them. Sadly enough you might sell out on the blue dresses and maybe half of the green ones - but most of the red ones would need to go to the outlet store or to be sold with huge price reductions.  You may even have to sell them below cost as you would need to sell all the stock before the next season’s new designs.   The good news is that this scenario is now part of the past.  With the latest textile printing solutions (from Mimaki), you can produce exactly what you need when you need it.  Retailers can estimate the quantity of red dresses not selling, reduce the price and keep the prices levels of the rest of the collection intact.

In this world I would let you produce exactly what you need and not more.  I would indicate to you that if the blue dress sells out you only need to have one new specific production run.  The huge traditional re-runs would be part of the past, eliminating cost and losses.  Of course this would be the ideal retail textile world.  Does it exist?­­

Let’s create…Together.