Case StudyHow Hanin Garment cut product development time by 80% with Orchids 3D web platform
5 min read
- Time-consuming back-and-forth
- Overloaded 3D designer
- Gap between design and production
- Costly physical samples
- Limited color options
- Holdups caused by time zones
- Siloed information
How Orchids Helped
- Faster reviews through web interface
- Adjustment ability for everyone
- Virtual product visualization
- Reduced sample expenditures
- Vastly expanded palette
- Asynchronous collaboration
- Multi-user access at any time
50 years is a long time to survive in any business. In the garment business—especially with the rise of globalization over the past few decades—it’s an incredible feat. And that’s just what Hong Kong-based Hanin Garment has accomplished, weathering the ups and downs of the business since 1972.
Even with that long and distinguished track record, adjusting to the upheaval in their business over the past several years has been challenging. In 2017, one of their largest customers went bankrupt, sending the company into an existential crisis of sorts. With all of the changes in the garment industry, it was a reckoning that they could have seen coming far away. But now they were forced into a monumental decision: how to structure their company to weather the challenges ahead.
A Difficult Decision
As Paul Chan, Hanin’s Chief Amazement Officer, describes it, there were two options: move abroad or move online. Moving production from China to someplace like Bangladesh, Vietnam, or Myanmar would have allowed them to lower their costs while maintaining their processes, but that would be playing it safe. On the other hand, downsizing their production lines and moving to an ecommerce model would be bolder, but riskier.
You didn’t think we’d mention the risky option if Hanin went down the safe route, did you?
Previously, Hanin had been running a mass production line. For them, that meant 60 people producing 20 pieces per person per day, or 1,200 per day. It was a high volume system, but not terribly flexible. If they needed to change a style, everyone needed to be retrained. But with an ecommerce model—working with a number of smaller customers on bespoke items—they could convert production lines to 5–10 people each.
That would obviously reduce production, but it would also give Hanin more agility. Plus, it fit in nicely with the company’s efforts moving towards more sustainable design. Producing post-sale, rather than pre-sale, meant a tighter match between supply and demand—and a lot fewer garments in landfills. So it’s no wonder they started referring to this new process as a “smart production line.” And at the center of this shift was vastly improved collaboration, courtesy of Embodee’s Orchids web platform.
Charting a New Path
So how did Embodee’s Orchids help? By enhancing collaboration, simplifying decision making and reducing the need for costly and time-consuming samples (from 7 to 1 or 2).
Prior to their shift, decision making at Hanin was incredibly time-consuming. As Paul explains, “Every design had to be routed through our internal teams and then our clients, taking up days. Then we had to collect all that feedback and send it over to our 3D designer to implement the changes. And then another round of feedback, and possibly another revision. It was slow and inefficient, and really just a relic of the pre-digital age.”
Embodee’s Orchids, though, helped them drive out much of their old, mass production inefficiencies. Before, their UK-based designer needed 6–9 months to develop each product. Much of this was due to the back-and-forth nature of their processes. Samples needed to be delivered, reviews had to cover dispersed teams, and even the most minor of tweaks required the designer’s involvement. And having to cross time zones between Hong Kong, the UK, and anywhere customers were located only slowed the process down more.
But with Embodee’s Orchids, reviews could be brought online, allowing any team member or client to take a look at 3D designs instantly and simultaneously. Information was no longer locked on one person’s computer or one office’s server—anyone that needed access to projects could get it at any time. No more pausing and waiting until the right person exported the files others needed. And since everyone could view a project stored in the cloud, they always had the latest version right at their fingertips.
Beyond that, the web platform gave non-designers, like merchandisers and the production team, the power to explore color options with just a few clicks. That meant higher engagement between parties, less back and forth, and more flexibility. Plus, it opened up the ability to consider more color options than they could before. The net result? That 6–9 month development process was brought down to a jaw-dropping single month.
A Physical Break
Embodee also helped ease the problem of physical samples. Hanin had been making 5–10 rounds of samples to test color and materials for each item. Not only was it expensive, it added even more time to the process. But by allowing everyone inside and outside the company to visualize products virtually, they eliminated the need for physical samples. This was a double win for the company, cutting costs and helping them contribute to more sustainable consumption and production by cutting material waste.
And speaking of sustainability, shifting from mass production—where 30% of clothes go unsold and into a landfill—to an ecommerce model meant customers could order exactly what they had already sold. This production-on-demand model meant that even downstream, Hanin was creating a less wasteful business. And that was only possible with the reduced production time that Embodee’s Orchids help bring about.
A Future with Orchids
For Hanin, Embodee isn’t merely a vendor or software provider. “[Their solution] is a hub for buyers, a development center, and a place for designers—all in one,” says Paul. “The Orchids web platform has been instrumental in helping us overhaul our processes and moving Hanin to a whole new business model.” And there are more changes afoot. Paul likens the current state of digital fashion design to “the iPhone 4, when it was clear that you needed a smartphone, but still very primitive compared to what we have today.”
It’s the future of collaborative digital product creation and a model that’s more efficient, more nimble, and more sustainable. And with it, Hanin may just find themselves celebrating another 50 years of serving customers and producing high-quality apparel.