After working with the likes of Stella McCartney, Grafter and Tat Fung Textiles, Andy Chu, Director of design and marketing of Mills of Denim Soul (MDS) and Founder of Core to Core is advocating for transparency throughout the textile supply chain. Here's more on his journey from fashion design to product development, what he learnt from building his own brand, and upcoming trends he sees in the textile industry.
Andy graduated from Central Saint Martin's, University of the Arts London in Fashion and Apparel Design. He made the decision to return to Hong Kong to leverage Hong Kong's proximity and history in the textile industry, and to go beyond the sketches and the shows, to understand how sourcing and product development works.
I wanted to not only be in design, focusing on a single product, but to get an overview of the how the entire supply chain worked together, to explore the whole textile industry.
Andy believes that most designers do not have enough practical experience when it comes to manufacturing, and that it is essential for designers to understand the process from material to the finished product.
Young designers often focus on the sketching, developing the catalogue and putting together the show, rather than exploring the bigger picture of the industry.
After returning to Hong Kong, he dived into merchandising, building his expertise from design sketch all the way to the final garment.
To succeed in the industry, Andy proposes that designers focus on two skills:
Andy believes that learning how to communicate in the language of production is critical for building a career in the fashion industry.
What you draw beautifully on a piece of paper doesn't matter if the product can't actually be made.
He also believes that knowing which sales channels to target is a key strategy for designers to learn. A common strategy for designers is to pitch to retail chains, like Zara, H&M and Uniqlo, however, Andy advises against this, and suggests designers to look into less saturated and direct channels to gain a competitive edge (Think crowdfunding and social media linking manufacturers with consumers, directly.)
With the rise in awareness of how products are sourced and made, consumers are demanding more transparency in the manufacturing process. Andy believes that direct sales, where the manufacturer directly sells to the consumers, is where the future of the textile and apparel industry is heading towards.
Andy believes that true transparency means to uncover all hidden costs that comes from markups and having intermediaries.
In order to be more transparent and truly sustainable, direct sales is the way to go.
The designer or product developer from the supplier side can sell directly to the consumer, reducing the complexity of having multiple intermediaries involved, providing more transparency from the material to the final apparel good.