Ralph Lauren has successfully completed a pilot project to produce a sweatshirt within 16 days as the brand seeks to build a more agile supply chain.
The one-off pilot saw the fashion brand use a fast-track supply chain model to deliver a custom fleece sweatshirt to one of its wholesale customers in just over two weeks.
Ralph Lauren’s chief financial officer Jane Nielsen told investors: “Leveraging our investments in digital product development, we designed, produced and delivered an exclusive fleece sweater to a key wholesale customer in just 16 days.
“We expect this model to be a growing part of our supply chain as we continue to progress toward our three, six and nine-month lead time targets.”
The sweatshirts were designed and manufactured in China and delivered to a wholesale partner.
While Ralph Lauren is not aiming to move its entire supply chain to 16 days, the process used to develop and manufacture the sweatshirts is something that is replicable, said Patrick Louvet, CEO at Ralph Lauren.
“What is key is to understand the timing required to be well-positioned to win in a specific category, in a specific geography, in a specific channel,” he explained.
“We still have our nine, six and three-month lead times, and then there are some projects where we want to have this ability to react in the span of days.
“It's a pilot, but I think it's an indication also that our organisation is becoming more agile, more aggressive in terms of how we manage timelines and also more creative. You’re going to continue to see faster lead times from us.”
The pilot forms part of Ralph Lauren’s aim to make its supply chain more agile. The brand recently set a target to produce 50% of its products on a lead time of six months or less.
In 2019, Ralph Lauren said it would be working with its strategic suppliers to understand their capacities to ensure garment workers are not working excessive hours.
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