First published in The PLM Report 2022, this instalment in our series of exclusive interviews explores the value we should be placing on supply chain partners, and the industry’s renewed focus on ESG.

Where do you believe PLM sits in the broader technology ecosystem for a brand or retailer? What does it deliver as a standalone solution, and what can it enable in terms of digital transformation elsewhere in the enterprise?

After a long stretch in maturity for the manufacturing technology community, apparell and retail sectors are finally arriving at the understanding that there is no one- size-fits-all solution for brand and retail needs. Depending on the size of the company, to whom their product offering is catering to, and the nature of their goods, brands will have different requirements accordingly. At Delogue PLM we firmly believe in being a best-of-breed software with standard application boundaries that don’t threaten the scope of other applications.

As a PLM, we offer an intuitive and agile environment for product development. Whilst ensuring the data collected integrates seamlessly to your ERP system, supports a brand’s quality and risk management planning, is capable of delivering smart soft information for their B2B sales platforms, and constantly assessing and developing our integrations to cover a wide-application spectrum for the brands’ current and possible future demands.

Being a platform, whose functionality diversifies when more stakeholders of the value chain engage with it, we propel the knowledge evolution on the possibilities of digital transformation within their company. The sheer advancement a brand makes through the implementation of a PLM to their workflow, speed to market, supply chain risk management, and product development management as a whole, enables a culture of digital transformation that often didn’t exist beforehand and we see this with our customers constantly.

As our industry evolves, the importance of supply chain visibility is only increasing. Can you give us examples of your PLM solution operating downstream?

The Pandemic, Brexit, and now the war in Ukraine have highlighted the fragility of much of the current supply chain ‘best’-practice. Having visibility over processes to be able to identify areas of weakness is imperative for a brand or retailer to survive in the current age of industry, and you can’t arrive at that without collecting accurate data from the source. That is where the PLM really champions in the value chain; the Delogue PLM takes your data from development through to your sales and marketing.

Our PLM contains and organizes the data you collect from suppliers, with areas to store facilities and certifications – an important step in your brand’s traceability efforts. Our supplier collaboration functionalities mean that designers/ buyers and any of your product development team can communicate with suppliers at every stage of engagement, offering accountability and transparency for a digital inventory. This provides an environment of automation with less likelihood of errors that trickle downstream.

For instance, our Care Instructions module invites suppliers to engage with brands in the input of accurate data through pre-defined fields. By the time the garment reaches the consumer, you can be confident that they get what they pay for – that the product is true to the information given, which can only increase consumer satisfaction and brand trust. It’s a snowball effect that starts with accurate data.

And if the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s the sheer value we should be placing in our value chain partners. We understand you offer suppliers complimentary access to Delogue PLM?

Yes, we do. In fact, we are the ONLY PLM provider who doesn’t charge suppliers a licensing fee. Product development improves when as many stakeholders from the value chain collaborate, it’s the basis of an effective PLM system and that is why we aim to remove as many barriers to your business product development success as possible.

It’s a part of our ethos to offer intrinsic motivation for deeper engagement between suppliers and brands. Having strong supplier relationships is going to be imperative for success as the industry becomes more and more regulated. We’re already seeing that in action with EU Due Diligence requirements and Zalando’s latest shift towards the Higg Index, both of which rely on a brand having detailed information that only a supplier can provide.

But there is still a lot of work to be done to shift the blame- throwing culture between brands and suppliers. We currently have over 7000 supplier users in Delogue, yet not all actively engage or showed interest in being onboarded. However, when they do it’s a complete game-changer for both supplier and brand, and the feedback we’ve received has been outstanding – we even have suppliers referring Delogue PLM to their customers because of the value they’ve benefited from through working with our platform.

The use of 3D tools for design and development has been steadily increasing in the RFA sectors for some time. How have you seen the use of 3D expanding for your customers this year?

Indeed, the implementation of 3D solutions for fashion and lifestyle brands is steadily picking up speed, but it must also be noted that we are still lagging compared to other industries. If we exclude the large multinationals, many SMEs remain in wait-and-see mode, hoping for further strategic use cases to avoid losing in this uncertain undertaking. They want to do it right, bearing in mind all the monetary- and human capital that such a structural shift comes with.

Even if these reasons prevail in slowing the adoption rate of 3D in our industry, we see a significant shift in awareness. While people were still watching the trends and developments surrounding 3D from a healthy distance just a few years ago, the short to medium term rollout of the first 3D projects is now on the top of mind for any fashion executive. From a business perspective, the sheer volume of benefits that 3D can provide are too promising to turn away from for much longer; be it to cut down on sample and material costs, reduce lead times and improve market responsiveness, or upgrade commercial customer experiences. And that’s without taking into consideration the positive environmental impact that a reduction of physical samples and their respective shipping will bring.

That’s why we have also intensified the dialogue with our customers on this subject, on the lookout for outliers, pioneers in the SME space who are willing and ready to approach such a project in the short term, so that we can build strong use cases together. In this way, we can develop an interface between PLM and 3D that perfectly fits the individual requirements and needs of our customer base. After all, this demanding transition can only be mastered with an intuitive data flow within a fully integrated, cross- departmental digital tech stack. And we are fully aware of our own responsibility as a trusted PLM provider on this journey.

With new environmental and sustainability laws coming into forces, ESG (or CSR) is a topic on the minds of most management teams within the retail, footwear, apparel and textiles sectors. Can you share with us how Delogue is supporting the pressure on brands for true transparency?

Our core focus is cleaning up your data and strengthening supplier collaboration and we do this by developing specific functionality that supports this on the platform. As a result, Delogue considers your CSR efforts often before you have – for instance, we’re currently developing our facilities logging functionality further, to allow for production tracking over your multi-tier supply chain on both item and style level, as well as on your suppliers and their facilities.

The goal is to make this as flexible as possible to support your right now, for what is yet to come. We were already re- assessing this area of our platform last year before much of the current EU regulations had come into existence. We’re now past the development phase and currently working on the design of the compliance and certification module that will handle both environmental compliance and regulation, along with material and fabric certifications.

We’re extremely eager to have integrations to sustainability tools that will create the data needed for your compliance certification. However, the landscape for these tools is still quite immature and it’s unclear which will stand the test of time. After careful consideration, we decided to look into an integration for Made2Flow – a software engine that is capable of advanced engineering calculations for your environmental footprint. We’re working on enabling the customer data generated through Delogue, to inform the tool’s calculations and send that data back to our PLM platform for generating reports.

‘Digitalization’ is a term – akin to ‘sustainability’ – that gets thrown around frequently in Fashion. And, it’s a term that’s so often misused. What does digitalization mean for Delogue?

Digitalization of the fashion industry is the catalyst for Delogue’s genesis; our Founder, Rikke Biehl, was a fashion buyer with pragmatism who wanted a smarter and more intuitive way of working outside of Excel. 10 years ago, the solution for her was clear – digitalization and as a result, here we are with a PLM solution addressing the specific industry roadblocks to product development and looking at ways digitalization can further improve the day to day of buyers, designers, technicians and suppliers for the greater good of the industry as a whole.

Our advocacy of the digitalization of the fashion sphere goes beyond profit. We have an active and successful Academic Program to support educational institutions in combining academic knowledge with the needed digital tools for future-ready fashion professionals. By awarding free licenses to our PLM software for teachers and students, we aim to be a positive driver of change towards a more intuitive and inclusive fashion value chain, starting right within education.

Digitalization of the fashion industry was the saving grace for many companies during the Pandemic and the current volatility of the global supply chain only amplifies this further. It has the ability to make each step of the value chain better, fuelling innovative ways of solving real-life problems to create a more resilient supply chain. The core of this is data and Delogue strives to enable your data for greater transparency, supporting your efforts to fulfil future governance, and simplifying how you work with your data for greater accuracy.