I am hearing a whole lot about inspired brands lately. At the Apparel Tech West Conference last week in Los Angeles, Jim Crawford, GREC Executive Director, gave a presentation titled, The Race to Embrace Consumer Mobile Apps. While everyone is talking about mobile apps in retail today, Crawford's presentation was very well grounded in what retailers and consumers around the world are already doing. I agree wholeheartedly with his claims that as consumers become savvier to the wily marketing tactics of retailers, and as products are more commoditized, the retail winners of the future, particularly if they aren't the best low priced operator, will be the most inspired brands. Everything these inspired retailers will do will reflect their brand image.

The vendor present at Apparel Tech West that most impressed me with their mobile, inspired capabilities was Centric Software with their Centric 8 Collection Book for Fashion iPad and IPhone applications. Granted, Centric is not the only PLM/MLM vendor with this capability, since Tradestone Software, whose vision statement is "Inspire a Brand: Building a great brand is about turning inspiration into reality", announced their mobile capabilities at NRF. The Centric 8 Collection Book application, designed for the high-fashion industry, truly seemed inspired. I could easily see why fashion houses and designers would prefer to use it to present their collections to buyers. The Centric application allows designers to incorporate last-minute collection updates-made only minutes before styles are shown on the runway or in the showroom-and then accurately portray the latest style options in real time.

My presentation of "PLM Best Practices for Apparel Retailers & Brands" was well-received, and many attendees jumped at the offer for a copy of the presentation and follow-up discussions. I opened with a review of why certain brands have stood the test of time and why others haven't. It all comes down to how brand inspiration and execution continue to align with customer needs. In the new retail paradigm, inspired, intelligent and instrumented processes will be core to the customer experience driven transformation t that carries retailers into the future. All in all, Apparel Tech West was an inspired event that afforded many apparel brands an opportunity to share experiences, learn best practices and network with new people.

I will be participating in a webcast April 28th at 12:00PM EDT, in association with Apparel Magazine and Epicor titled Customer-Centric Sourcing: Meeting Consumer Expectations While Tightly Controlling Costs. Join us to hear more about use creative sourcing strategies that can reduce your costs, minimize your risks and maximize your returns. We'll discuss:

  • Key challenges and opportunities in today's apparel supply chain
  • How consumers are driving not just what you buy but also where you source
  • Strategies for taking a laser-focus on cost control, without alienating price-conscious consumers
  • Mitigating risks through sourcing diversification
  • Expanding your time horizons on raw materials planning
  • New approaches to streamlining PLM