Impactiva Apparel Quality Control

Fast fashion calls for increasingly short lead-times

From what we read lately in fashion specialized media we get the impression that “fast” is never fast enough! All studies show that consumers want to instantly wear what they see and like. Brands and retailers work to shorten their conception-to-consumer lead-times in every possible way.

Today we want to address one of those possible ways: optimizing the link of the manufacturing supply chain that connects your Tier-2 with your Tier-1 suppliers, specifically the mills that supply fabric to your apparel factories.

A substantial part of the apparel found defective at final QC inspection is attributable to out-of-spec fabrics. Garments that get rejected at some point in production or when they are ready to be shipped, due to fabric stains, holes, knots, etc. If the mills fail to mark defects properly, the apparel factory can inadvertently cut the fabric into apparel. We know the consequences: reworks, rejections, replacements… in a word: delays… And of course: waste.

Inspecting fabric at the mill to ensure correct color, hand-feel and marking of defects can save the brand and its factories up to 20% of the fabric cost. And a lot of time.

Processes and procedures in place to prevent defects as early as possible.

These are some pictures of unmarked defects found in different clients and fabrics inspections, that can help illustrate this blog. Some are extremely noticeable and one can expect they won’t be cut into apparel, but it is best to mark all defects.

 

Stains

Fabric defect - stain 6Fabric defect - stain 1Fabric defect - stain 2  Fabric defect - stain 4  Fabric defect - stain 3Fabric defect - stain 7

 

Holes

Fabric defect - hole 1 Fabric defect - hole 2 Fabric defect - hole 3

 

Broken yarns

Fabric defect - broken yarn 1 Fabric defect - broken yarn 2

 

Foreign yarns

Impactiva Apparel Quality Control  Fabric defect - foreign yarn 3Fabric defect - foreign yarn 2

 

Pulled yarns

Impactiva Apparel Quality Control

 

Knots

Impactiva Apparel Quality Control Fabric defect - knot 2 Fabric defect - knot 3

 

Fabric joints

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Missing QC checklist boards – Case #599

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. Practical solutions to problems encountered in the manufacturing process that demonstrate how we assist our customers’ factories to produce Right from the Start TM.

Problem: Factory QC inspection checklist show boards unavailable in the stitching department.

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Impactiva solution: we got the factory to hang their QC checklist show boards in front of the stitching tables so that Artisans can be aware of the major problems in the stitching stage and Factory QC can control these problems during production.

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Stay tuned for more Impactiva technical solutions to every day production problems.

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No cutting directions – Case #589

“A picture is worth a thousand words”. Practical solutions to problems encountered in the manufacturing process that demonstrate how we assist our customers’ factories to produce Right from the Start TM.

Problem: No cutting directions on the show board at the cutting machine.

case 589 pic 1 impactiva footwear qa case 589 pic 2 impactiva footwear qa

Impactiva solution: we got the factory to display the leather cutting directions on the show boards above the machines the for artisans to follow.

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Stay tuned for more Impactiva technical solutions to every day production problems.

Untrimmed thread apparel quality control

Defect Calibration: A Key Tool for Reducing Errors and Chargebacks

By Jose Suarez

In the fast-paced, competitive apparel and footwear industries, quality has always been important. However, with rising material and labor costs, combined with the growing pressure for faster deliveries and the proliferation of styles, minimizing defects is no longer just important; it’s essential.

Therefore, as part of their efforts to ensure short- and long-term growth, forward-thinking brands are investing in defect calibration, the practice of minimizing quality discrepancies that exist when a product is manufactured.

Untrimmed thread apparel quality control

The Importance of Outlining Quality Standards and Expectations

To achieve effective defect calibration, brands must methodically outline quality standards and expectations regarding defect classification with their factories.

While this action may seem obvious, consider the state of communication and understanding at your factories. If you were to ask the key 15-20 people at each factory (those who have an important impact on the quality of your product) to clearly state what you as the buyer define as a critical, major, and minor defect, would their answers be consistent? Probably not.

From the merchandiser to quality control managers and operators, few are likely to have a firm understanding of your expectations regarding defects.

It gets worse. Now consider the state of communication between you and your retailers. Like your factories, the likelihood is that you do not fully understand each of your retailer’s standards for critical, major, and minor defects.

If you are not clear on each retailer’s expectations, how can you relay the correct standards to your factories? You can’t.

 

The Loose Thread Example: Major or Minor Defect?

A clear example of the confusion and costs created by poor defect calibration can be seen in the inconsistent ways a loose thread is classified.

Traditionally, a loose garment thread is classified as a minor defect, However, if the thread is overly long, some parties may classify it as a major defect. But how long? The problem is that most companies do not specify the exact length at which a thread should become a major defect.

This lack of clear expectations may result in costly, avoidable quality errors.

 

Employing a Retailer-Specific Approach to Defect Calibration

It is important to note that while you and your factories may have different opinions on what constitutes critical, major, and minor defects, the opinions that should truly guide your standards are those of your retailers and consumers.

If consumers of a particular retailer tend not to care about a small, loose thread and pay for the product without requesting a discount, the defect should likely be classified as a minor defect. However, if the defect is significant enough that consumers of another retailer tend to purchase the product only at a 30-50 percent discount, it should likely be classified as a major defect.

Thus, since retailers have different expectations of product quality, based on their consumer base, brands should define and adjust their defect classifications accordingly. Then, they should educate their factories on the specific quality standards applicable to each product.

 

Adopting Factory Defect Books

Communicating quality specifications can take many forms, but chief among them should be the adoption of factory defect books. Distributed to your operations team and key personnel at each of your factories, defect books are manuals that clearly classify each possible defect as a critical, major, or minor, thereby turning your quality expectations into an objective standard.

For instance, the books should include pictures and figures specifying the length at which a loose thread is classified as a major defect. Further, if the brand or retailer has multiple sets of quality specifications (e.g., one for a mass-market line and one for a top-tier line), books should be created for each.

As issues arise and new determinations are made regarding a defect classification, defect books should be revised with new, descriptive pictures. In addition, books should be reexamined, updated, and reissued to factory personnel after each update.

Ultimately, by establishing precise quality specifications that align with retailer expectations, then effectively communicating them to your factories with tools such as defect books, brands stand to gain significant savings through reduced errors, chargebacks, and lost sales.

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What are fashion brands doing to eliminate toxic chemicals from their supply chain?

This is from Sourcing Journal July 5th: “Our assessment shows that the textile industry as a whole is not doing enough to go toxic-free. Sixteen out of the 19 brands assessed are stumbling over transparency issues or failing to eliminate toxic chemicals; with only three years left they must speed up now if they’re to meet their 2020 deadlines,” Greenpeace Germany’s head of the Detox My Fashion campaign, Kirsten Brodde, said.

Three years is still enough to put Restricted Substances under control, specialists ratify. But the brands need to put this project in motion right away. Companies taking a passive approach are prone to serious liabilities, from regulatory penalties and recalls to a damaged reputation and loss of market share.

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Inspection and testing alone will not ensure restricted substances compliance. There are too many regulations, requirements change rapidly and differ by country. Further, testing sizes are too small, as there are components, works-in-process and final products to test.

 

The Best Approach: Implement a Quality Management System (QMS)
To prevent hazardous substances from entering the product, the best approach is to establish a QMS that takes all variables into account. The first step is to assess industrial partners in order to determine the current state. Then set the goals and design a plan to implement a Quality Management System to progressively reduce the contaminated product until its complete elimination. Products must be analyzed to identify high-risk areas. Inspection and testing methods must be customized according to each particular situation (product, manufacturing roadmap, final destination of the products, etc). Last, but not least, a monitoring system must be created in order to sustain the achievements.

This is a process that requires full support from the management, and a firm commitment to create a culture of accountability, internal data transparency and discipline. It is essential that all the stakeholders understand that in order for the change to be sustainable in time, the new processes in place must be relentlessly followed and challenged from time to time with a continuous improvement mentality. Every time a new style is produced, the same protocols must be followed. New materials are constantly arriving at the factories, new product is being made every day, and therefore controls can never relax.

To establish a rigorous Quality Management System for Restricted Substances is a significant step toward supply chain transparency and environmental responsibility, and it will guarantee compliance.