A Stitch in Time: Lean Retailing and the Transformation of Manufacturing--Lessons from the Apparel and Textile Industries

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9780195126150: A Stitch in Time: Lean Retailing and the Transformation of Manufacturing--Lessons from the Apparel and Textile Industries

The apparel and textile industries have always been at the mercy of rapidly changing styles and fickle customers who want the latest designs while they are still in fashion. The result for these businesses, often forced to forecast sales and order from suppliers with scant information about volatile demand, is a history of stock shortages, high inventories, and costly markdowns. But, as the authors explain in A Stitch in Time, technological advances in the 1980s paved the way for a new concept in retailing--lean retailing.
Pioneered by companies like WAL-MART, lean retailing has reshaped the way that products are ordered, virtually eliminating delays from distribution center to sales rack by drawing on sales data captured electronically at the checkout counter. Armed with up-to-the-minute data about colors, sizes, styles, and geographic sales, apparel and textile companies now must be able to respond rapidly to real-time orders efficiently based on new approaches to distributing merchandise, forecasting, planning, organizing production, and managing supplier relations. A Stitch in Time shows that even in the face of burgeoning product proliferation, companies that successfully adapt to the world of lean retailing can reduce inventory risk, reduce costs, and increase profitability while improving their responsiveness to the ever-changing tastes of customers. Based on the success of these practices in the apparel industry, lean retailing practices are propagating through a growing number of consumer product industries.
A richly detailed and resonant account, A Stitch in Time brilliantly captures both the history and future of the retail-apparel-textile channel and offers bold insights on the changes and challenges facing retailers and manufacturers in all segments of our rapidly changing economy.

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About the Author:


Frederick H. Abernathy joined John T. Dunlop in a 1979 study of the Tailored Clothing Industry which led to the establishment of the Textile and Clothing Technology Corporation ([TC]2). His continued involvement with the apparel industry led the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support the research resulting in this book. He is Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering, and Gordon McKay Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harvard University. John T. Dunlop has had an extensive career in labor relations and government including serving as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1975-1976 and more recently chair of President Clinton's Commission on Worker-Management Relations. He has also served as a mediator and arbitrator in a wide range of industries and is the author of more than ten books on labor relations and labor economics. He is Lamont University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University. Janice H. Hammond investigates how manufacturing and logistics systems develop the speed and flexibility to respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer demand--critical capabilities in the retail-apparel-textile channel. She is the UPS Foundation Professor of Business Logistics at the Harvard Business School. David Weil has written widely on the impact of technology and human resource policy on business performance based in part on his studies of the retail-apparel-textile industries. His research spans the areas of labor market policy, industrial and labor relations, occupational safety and health, and regulatory policy. He is Associate Professor of Economics at Boston University School of Management.

Review:


Advance praise for A Stitch in Time:


"A Stitch in Time is excellent reading for those in the Apparel Industry, whether they are in the retail, garment manufacturing or textile segments, who are interested in improving profitability through lower inventories, shorter lead times, less close-outs, and in general making better decisions on fashion merchandise." --Bernard A. Levanthal, Chairman and CEO, Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation, previous Vice Chairman, Burlington Industries, Inc.


"Highlights the Retail Revolution in Apparel Textile industries and demonstrates how informative technology not only benefits the retailer, but also the apparel and textile manufacturers. It provides all the parties with a response in meeting the short time frame in partnership, from ordering a product to its delivery for sale, and how to handle the completed product in their facility....The book is most informative with regard to how the apparel and textile industries operated one hundred percent of the time before, and what needs to be accomplished and what is being done now with the retail revolution for certain products by retailers, apparel and textile manufacturers which assists all of the parties an enhanced doemstic manufacturing and employment. It also serves as a basis for other industries to deal with the retail revolution." --Jack Sheinkman, Vice Chair, Vice Chair, Amalgamated Bank of New York and President Emeritus, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (UNITE!)


"As this book chronicles, since its beginnings in 1790, the US textile and apparel industry has been a bellwether for a whole host of issues, ranging from early adoption of automation in textiles to experiments in labor relations. And now there are lessons to be learned as this industry strives to exploit information technology to integrate a network of raw material suppliers, manufacturers and retailers working together to flow the right product to the right place at the right time. This excellent book carefully describes these changes and the impact they are having in a way that vividly exposes those lessons for all of us. This is an important book that should be read by anyone in any industry that wants to create an information-integrated channel."--Marshall Fisher, Steven J. Heyman Professor of Service and Operations Management, Wharton Business School, `niversity of Pennsylvania


"A Stitch in Time has broader significance than its title suggests. By focusing on the flow of materials and processes involved in the `retail-apparel-textiles channel,' it documents and analyzes the transformation of the institutions and practices of production and mass ditribution of the Industrial Age made possible by the railroad and telegraph over a century ago into those of today's Information Age made possible since the 1960s by the new electronic technologies. This pioneering study is one of the very first to enhance our understanding of the multi-faceted implications of the evolution of industry worldwide from the Industrial Age to the Information Age."--Alfred Chandler, Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, Emeritus, Harvard Business School


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