Product Innovation Apparel 2015: The WhichPLM Report

July 6, 2015 by Mark Harrop

Suppliers mentioned in this article: YuniquePLM™ Centric Software Visual 2000 PTC CGS Kalypso

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WhichPLM’s Founder & CEO, Mark Harrop, attended the PI Apparel 2015 event in NYC from 23-24 June 2015. PI Apparel brings together the fashion, apparel and footwear industry to discuss the challenges and opportunities offered by modern technology. With a bounty of companies present, WhichPLM had a lot to report on.

The highly anticipated Product Innovation Apparel 2015 event took place on June 23rd & 24th. An event now in its third consecutive year, PI Apparel connects the fashion, apparel and footwear industries by bringing together some of the biggest names in one location.

And what a place it was. This year the event was held at The Union League Club in fashion-forward Manhattan. A very prestigious venue, the social club is located in trendy Midtown (East 37th & Park Ave). In previous years the event has been hosted in London (in both 2013 & 2014) with other technology Product Innovations (note the omission of the ‘Apparel’ here) landing in Berlin, Chicago, San Diego and Düsseldorf. Upcoming events include PI Process, in Amsterdam in October; PI Boston in November; and PI Munich scheduled for March of next year.

Now we’ve commented on the ‘where’, let’s touch upon the ‘what’. The focus of PI Apparel is to discuss both the challenges and opportunities offered by the technology of today, and how today’s solutions and providers can continue the streamlining of the product lifecycle – something that WhichPLM has been doing for the last eight years and knows a great deal about.

And as official partners of the event this year, I travelled to New York City on behalf of WhichPLM to attend, meet, explore, and enjoy.

This year’s PI Apparel was chaired by the charismatic Craig Crawford. Former VP of IT Strategy, Architecture & Relationships for Burberry, Craig is the founder of Crawford IT, a London-based boutique consulting firm specialising in the digital transformation of brands.

Those readers who have a copy of the WhichPLM Annual Review 2014 will remember Craig’s piece, entitled, ‘The Application Marketplace: Change is Inevitable.’ In this exclusive article Craig made a passionate case for digital mobility, social collaboration, and the need for enterprises to think in terms of agile applications if they’re to weather the rapid changes that characterise the fashion and retail industry. We can certainly see why Craig made an excellent candidate for PI’s chair.


Like with any good event, there were an abundance of other partners, sponsors, speakers and delegates present. Long-time WhichPLM readers will recognize a multitude of names from the lists that follow. Presentation partners included DeSL, Human Solutions, Gerber Technology, Kalypso and Optitex. Partners came from a spectrum of footwear and apparel sectors: extended PLM was represented by the likes of Aras Corp., CBX Software, Pointcarré and Visulon; consulting companies included Acnovate, Espedia Consulting, Parker Avery, and Zweave.

Aside from those presentation partners already mentioned above, showcasing PLM (and where present, ERP) were well-known vendors like Centric, CGS, Dassault Systèmes, NGC, PTC and Visual 2000; as well as lesser-known, but by no means lesser, vendors such as FDM4 International Inc.


The majority of vendors hosted compelling sessions or participated in panel discussions over the course of the two-day event. Many of these presentations were delivered by more than one company, and often included one vendor and one or more retailers/brands portraying why and how they worked (and continue to work) together. Similar to case studies, these sessions focused on a company’s journey, challenges, timescales, what ‘worked’ and in some cases what didn’t along the way, as well as the benefits the relationships have yielded for all partners involved.

This report will delve into particular sessions in the main body shortly, but of the veritable bevy of retailers and brands present on the floor, important technology users and influencers include: Adidas, Aéropostale, Amer Sports, Coach, Columbia Sportswear, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade & Company, Kohl’s, Marc Jacobs, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Patagonia, Under Armour, VF Corporation, and Victoria’s Secret.


Like we have seen at numerous events over the past few years, and certainly at Texprocess this year, 3D was present at PI Apparel in a big way this year. It seems as though the 3D bug (perhaps not the best word to use for our industry) has ignited, and is spreading like wildfire.

I have, personally, been involved in the concept of 3D prototyping for the last 15 years or so, when I first traveled to Israel to meet with the (then) new teams from Browzwear and Optitex. 3D isn’t something that’s recently been coined or ‘invented’. So why is it cropping up everywhere in Apparel these days? The ‘newness’ felt around the market is largely due to acceptance and adoption. A concept that was previously daunting and, let’s be frank, very expensive, is now becoming mainstream, much less intimidating, and quite a sum cheaper. Expense-wise, I’ll share one example of the lower cost of ownership today, using a comparison from the late 80’s when I managed a design bureau service.

At that time we were using the latest creative 2D CAD systems for new artwork, which could be printed directly onto a fabric substrate using reactive dyes (washable prototypes). The printer then had a cost of around $400,000 and required a full-time designer and colourist to operate. Today, a similar reactive dye or dye sublimation printer will cost a business around $20,000 and is far easier to operate, only requiring the design file output to generate a square meter of fabric for sampling (3D prototype).

In a fast moving industry (and a world) where consumers want products faster, more innovative and personalized, it’s not surprising that 3D for fashion is welcomed. It’s fun and exciting for new designers, and it’s here. It isn’t coming, it’s arrived.


We’ve seen great interest in 3D design, 3D sampling, and 3D digital marketing in recent times – whether for clothing, jewelry, watches, glasses, footwear or even 3D virtual stores. The need for a broad spectrum of solutions, which integrate with one another to create end-to-end visibility, is evident now more than ever.

And I must congratulate PI Apparel for inviting a wide selection of these solutions. Representing the 3D side of things were companies like Alvanon, Browzwear, Optitex, Gerber, PTC, Dassault and Volumental.

And, what better way to kick off the nitty gritty of this report, than by beginning with coverage of three or four 3D sessions. The first took place on the first day (23rd June) and was presented by Margarita Pasakarnis, Pattern Services – 3D Patternmaker for VF Corporation. Margarita is using the Browzwear Vstitcher programme, incorporating 3D technologies into the VF Jeanswear product development process. She is responsible for fit development and adjustment, as well as virtual prototyping (using Lotta software) with the goal of reducing the number of physical product samples.

Her session, ‘Making the Business Case for 3D Technology – An Industry Story,’ began by stating what I’ve mentioned above: having seen initial skepticism for 3D in the apparel industry and in recent times greater pressure for shorter lead times we have arrived at a 3D evolution – what can only be described as a 3D explosion today!

Having led the 3D deployment of VF Jeanswear, Margarita presented the incentives behind their original investment (namely working with 3rd party suppliers to reduce the number of physical samples, as well as the number of creative options and process steps behind marketing 3D internally). Having lived it first-hand Margarita explained how 3D is being applied to patternmaking, merchandise & design, and fit to fulfill their goals. Especially important is fit technology, as understanding (or not understanding) fit models and 3D avatars makes a huge impact on sample iterations. Margarita illustrated the graphical workflow process providing the audience with numerous examples of the 3D science of fitting.


The second session I’d like to focus on came just two hours later. A combined effort this time, from Alexis Kantor & Sandra Gagnon of Target. ‘Apparel Design and Development Utilizing 3D Technology’ centered on how Target’s Design & Development teams overcame the challenges experienced with apparel modeling.

Alexis Kantor is Director of Apparel & Accessories Product Design & Development for Target USA, and leads a team of 100+ at Target’s headquarters. Sandra Gagnon is Senior Group Manager for NIT & 3D Virtual Product Development at Target USA. Her role focuses on leading the transformation in 3D Virtual Product Development.


Target’s D&D teams bring together tools relating to fabric, body, and materials to create life-like samples. Using solutions from companies like Optitex and Dassault Systèmes the duo confirmed that Target now visualizes garments earlier, across a range of categories. Target is one company who is certainly utilizing 3D technology to continually innovate and construct, driving speed and success within the business.

Alexis & Sandra shared their journey of discovery and, with it, their passion for technology innovation especially in relation to 3D virtual prototyping. They also made it crystal clear that they are still in ‘discovery and learning’ mode, and continue to push the envelope across a broad range of product and solutions that can support Target’s business strategy when it comes to the subject of 3D.

The third session relating directly to 3D that I’d like to touch upon was a panel discussion, held in the afternoon of 23rd. Entitled, ‘How is 3D Technology Disrupting the Fashion/Apparel/Footwear World?’ this discussion collected a myriad 3D companies all in one place. The panel was made up of Ed Gribbin, President of Alvanon; Steven Madge, VP Industry & Global Affairs for Dassault Systèmes; Darioush Nikpour, EVP North America for Browzwear; Steve Greenberg, President at Pointcarrè; Asaf Landau, CEO of Optitex; and Caroline Walerud, CEO & Co-founder of Volumental.


Between them, these six panelists possess a bounty of information on 3D technology. Much like myself often being referred to as the Apparel ‘PLM guru’, Ed Gribbin has been described as the ‘fit guru’. He is recognized as the leading authority on sizing and fit, and leads Alvanon’s global teams in helping their customers develop sizing solutions (Avatars & Sizing Surveys) in terms of profitability and efficiency. Steven Madge heads up Dassault’s 3D Excite, part of their 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which helps companies to design and produce compelling products (Automotive, Aerospace, Hard Goods, Watches, Jewellery, Footwear & Apparel). Steven sees the future of designing as solely a 3D space, with little need for 2D in the near to mid-term. Darioush Nikpour brings vast industry experience and expertise to Browzwear, especially with regards to his broad knowledge of PLM, having co-founded YuniquePLM some years ago.


Steve Greenberg has led Pointcarrè into becoming the leader in the development of software for textiles, apparel and home furnishing design. The company boasts many top-name clients from around the world. Asaf Landau is a well-respected executive in both the software and apparel fields as the CEO of popular Optitex. Lastly, Caroline Walerud, leads Swedish company, Volumental – a 3D company aiming to help create a world of fully customizable products. Caroline believes that everything we wear should be customized to fit the individual.

With such an exciting panel, you can imagine the rich conversation stemming from this discussion. It’s impossible for me to fully capture all of the questions and answer’s in this report, so instead I’ll capture a few highlights. One immediate focus was on the foundations required for a successful 3D initiative, like the necessity of a patternmaking department to generate blocks based upon accurate sizing data from each region that a retailer or brand sells into. Discussed was creative textile designs that will not only feed the 3D solutions to support the creative design process, but that will also be sent directly to a printer capable of printing onto the fabric substrate to generate the 24 hour sample!


Questions put to the panel included things like: ‘How can 3D scanning and printing make customized footwear and apparel available to a wide market?’ The panel explained that today there are many affordable scanners on the market that can measure a wide variety of people, hands, feet, faces etc. Next: ‘What are some of the expected challenges of utilizing 3D avatar technology in realistically creating a product respective to your target market?’ The latest fit survey data is being used to develop avatars that are representative of the target region, and support accurate 3D design and fit.

‘How affordable is 3D today and can you provide some metric’s on total cost of ownership?’ The answer to this one mentioned that, like most technologies, 3D software is now cheaper than ever before and the functionality is much broader and smarter, so the total cost of ownership versus the expected ROI is very positive. Another question on what product types the 3D solutions cover was directed to the entire panel. The overall response was that most of the 3D suppliers tend to focus on one or two products at most, meaning that a multi product retailer or brand will require multiple solutions to support their enterprise wide 3D strategies.


When asked whether they saw the end of 2D CAD/CAM solutions in the near future, the panel answered with a collective ‘No’. The reason being the level of accuracy required for very flexible garments, versus hard goods and footwear.

When asked, ‘How do we take 3D technology from prototyping to an integral part of scalable production?’ it seemed no panellist had the answer. Although, one company in my hometown of Manchester, UK, has created the world’s first 3D factory, using sprayed-on polymers to create disposable underwear. (There is more to come on this in our upcoming publication.)


Each panellist also claimed to have developed APIs to the leading PLM solutions. In terms of successfully integrating 3D technology it’s important, it was stated, to treat 3D like any enterprise technology implementation and devote great care and time into training and change management across the entire supply-chain. Also mentioned was that some retailers and brands are now being educated so well by their own supply-chain partners (in Asia and other parts of the world) that HQ are having to play catch-up to enable the 3D process!

Presenting ‘Miltary Uniform System Technology – Defense Logistics Agency R&D to Achieve Functionality using 3D Design and Analysis’ was Eric Gentsch. Program Director of Logistics Analysis for Logistics Management Institute, Eric has 6 years’ experience in industrial operations, including warehousing, logistics planning, shop-floor management, and engineering management, and more than 20 years’ experience analysing defense and homeland security logistics issues, including economic, technology, and industrial-base assessments, and diverse products ranging from military clothing to missile components.

The development of military uniforms follows different rules than the development of fashion garments, with functionality overriding design. And one of the main components of functionality is fit. For LMI, as a prime contractor for the Defence Logistics Agency, designing must accommodate a wide range of body types.


With Human Solutions, who have partnered with Vestech Pro, they are using 3D design and analysis to reduce prototype time and cost to improve functionality. The session explored the use of 3D avatars to simulate uniform sizing and fit, and the effects of layering and movement.

Speaking to Noemie Turcotte, Project Manager Anthropometric Wearables for Vestech Pro, I learnt that the company is scanning people in a certain region (or rather, regions) to find out the size of that population (average family sizes, or even individuals). From this, Human Solutions is able to create the 3D avatar representing a particular fit type. So, in the same way, the partnership is able to measure the average size of a soldier from one region. And Human Solutions have a complimentary 2D and PLM solution stack that is utilising this accurate measurement data, helping to improve cycle times and quality.

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It has always been Vestech’s goal to increase the efficiency of development processes together with quality, comfort and safety. Today in Mobility, they’re already working hard to adhere to standards at the early computer model stage. And in Fashion, they integrate the human being in 3D directly into product development, sales and marketing.


Moving away from 3D alone now, some other presentations that intrigued me centered on the direct benefits of PLM. It’s easy to get caught up in the various systems out there catering to specific areas (fit, for example) and momentarily forget about that one solution which connects everything: PLM.

The first presentation, ’How Can PLM Help Facilitate Fast Fashion?’ explored the case for keeping up with those retailers and brands who are in a constant state of change. Meg Munits, Director of Application Development for Aéropostale, explained how Aéropostale has leveraged YuniquePLM to centralize and share data, thus shortening their cycle times. Having recently joined the Aéropostale team, Meg has 15 years’ experience in the RFA sector, and has previously implemented PLM for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, and Fruit of the Loom.

Using YuniquePLM, Aéropostale is now able to bring collections from concept to consumer in less than three months. YuniquePLM has allowed the team, Meg explained, to begin certain processes much earlier in the development process, effectively shaving off time; information is shared as early as the pre-positioning phase, allowing sourcing teams more time to perform costing’s, find the correct materials, and select approved manufacturers.

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Robyn Howard, Senior PLM Manager at Randa Accessories presented the second session I’d like to focus on, also held on 23rd June, and also exploring YuniquePLM. Robyn started with Randa 6 years ago, working in product development and merchandising for their various brands. Now, having implemented YuniquePLM into all eleven product categories and five divisions of Randa, who better to present ‘How can PLM Facilitate a Truly Global Brand?’ than her?

This session explored the complex pressures of a globally expanding business, and how YuniquePLM has helped Randa to adapt to these pressures. WhichPLM first reported upon this partnership in our ideation 2014 report. Randa collaborates with 75 marquee brands, designing and manufacturing neckwear, leather goods, luggage, backpacks, cases and footwear. Randa leverages PLM for real-time collaboration between vendors and partners to ensure a truly global, well-connected supply chain. The power of communication should not be glossed over – it allows key stakeholders to keep informed on the creative direction of a product much sooner in the lifecycle. It is also important for readers to note that the Randa team is using 3D to support their design and development process and have integrated 3D to YuniquePLM to increase speed to market.


Moving away from YuniquePLM and towards BlueCherry is the third PLM-centric session I’d like to report on. Again held on 23rd June, Molly Rammel presented ‘How I Saved 1,000 Product Development Hours and Doubled Efficiency with PLM.’ As Director of Process Improvement – Strategy & Operations for Ellery Homestyles, Molly focuses on the continuous growth and support of the company’s solutions and processes. Ellery Homestyles is one of the first CGS customers to fully implement the standalone BlueCherry PLM software.

CGS has invested heavily into BlueCherry PLM recently, and they actually officially launched the standalone solution at the PI Apparel event. BlueCherry PLM is built on an in-depth evaluation of market needs; readers will be happy to know that the WhichPLM Evaluation for this product (following the 3 other evaluations we’ve published so far) is now available to download.


Molly shared their implementation story and PLM strategy – how they have utilised PLM to increase efficiency and process visibility across their in-house and global supply chain. New and expanded functionalities of the solution improve time-to-market and enhance global supply chain operations. Metrics Ellery Homestyles has already seen include: over 1,000 product development hours saved (hence the title of the session), 30 percent improvement in productivity, and up to 100 percent improvement in efficiency.

Molly shared how the home furnishings retailer had used BlueCherry to reduce manual processes and data entry, reduce costs, and understand the impacts of real-time analytics and reporti ng. She was very honest with the audience and shared her experience of having rushed into an earlier PLM implementation, which unfortunately encountered many issues, and had to be replaced by CGS’ PLM solution. Her message was loud and clear: take your time to evaluate the market carefully, take advice from the experts and avoid the marketing spin that sometimes comes from some unscrupulous technology suppliers!


Will Silveira, Executive VP, Manufacturing for Men’s Wearhouse, presented ‘Myth or Reality? – Can a PLM system really deliver global, real-time and seamless communications where e-mails & PDFs are banned?’ Men’s Wearhouse is one of the top retailers in the US, with annual revenues in excess of $3 billion. Will’s session was full of honesty; he explained that the million-dollar business was really struggling before embarking on its PLM journey.

With such a wide range of complex products covering 100,000s of SKUs per annum it was essential for Men’s Wearhouse to implement a PLM system capable of managing their development and procurement processes. By implementing DeSL’s PLM solution they are now able to deliver real-time global communications, expand the business and (recently) purchase new brands. In fact, the company and Joseph A. Bank are merging, using DeSL’s PLM and Supply Chain solutions.

Will’s general message was that there is no ‘silver bullet’ method to PLM, no quick fix. A PLM journey is a long one, which can take years. And he delivered a presentation designed to dispel the myth that emails and PDFs are still required after a PLM implementation.

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The fifth and final PLM-focused session in this report comes in the form of a panel discussion, given on the second day. The panel for ‘Beyond Product Development: Transforming Business Results with PLM’ consisted three participants from the retail/brand side, and two from the PLM side. Mike Flader, Director of Product Development Systems for IT at Carters OshKosh, along with Charlie Holmes, VP of Product Development Analytics & Operations for Kohl’s, and Nicole Jones, Director of Product Development Technologies at Lane Bryant, each discussed their PLM journeys.

Mike Flader is currently leading Carters OshKosh through their go-live. Kohl’s is utilizing their system to drive revenue growth, improve decision-making processes and deliver general business efficiency. Nicole Jones, who also presented another session at the event, has led an implementation of FlexPLM across 4 Lane Bryant brands. She is currently working on an upgrade to FlexPLM and the implementation of a new merchandising tool.

The PLM vendor portion of the panel was made up of two of Kalypso’s team: Steve Riordan, Partner of Retail, Footwear & Apparel, and Vipin Goyal, Senior Manager of PLM for the same division.

Together, the entire panel used varying experiences and perspectives to explore how companies can achieve the balance of strategy, process, IT and change leadership in order to achieve revenue growth, produce innovative products, and continue their robust development.

Another presentation that really explored the notions of innovation and development, from my perspective, was delivered on the morning of the 2nd day. Lauren Bowker, Founder & Material Alchemist of T H E U N S E E N, delivered ‘‘Seeing the Unseen’ – Combining Science and Design to Create a New World of Materials’. For those of you wondering what exactly a ‘Material Alchemist’ is, like I was, I’ll try to explain: Lauren has a background in textiles (‘Material’) and in chemistry (‘Alchemist’). Her interest lies in the relationship between people and the emerging technologies within materials; and in innovation between materials, interactions, services and surfaces.


Lauren argued how oblivious consumers are to the technology and material science that goes into the creation of their fashion products. Oblivion, here, is not to be confused with disregard – consumers can’t appreciate fully what they do not know. Through Lauren’s speech I learnt that T H E U N S E E N is an amalgamation of anatomists, engineers, chemists and cutters that fuse biological and chemical matter into the materials they use.

The blending of science with material all sounds well and good, but what does it really mean? Expectant of this type of question, Lauren opted for a live demonstration. The company’s newest creation is environmental-reactive ink that, when used in clothing, changes colour through the RGB scale upon contact with the air around the wearer. Many of T H E U N S E E N’s previous clients are outside of the apparel arena – they have collaborated with brands like Swarovski, Hendricks Gin, and Airbus – making this new project even more intriguing and impressive.

The fascinating ink reacts to turbulence in the air, temperature, and even the wearer’s brain patterns to turn an haute couture-like piece of clothing from black to a much more vibrant colour. As the wearer interacts with his or her habitat the material soaks up beautiful blues, rich purples and opulent greens. Like a chameleon, the ink allows the wearer to react to his or her surroundings in a spectacular way. I, for one, cannot wait to see more wearable designs coming from T H E U N S E E N.

Also spectacular was Kenton Lee’s presentation some hours later. Founder & Executive Director of Because International, Kenton delivered ‘The Shoe that Grows’. Non-coincidentally, this is the name of Because International’s first project, spurred on by Kenton’s desire to help those challenged by poverty.


In a world where children’s feet are always growing, and so many children are unable to afford new footwear each year, Because International have created a pair of shoes that can grow five sizes and last up to five years. Kenton described the ethos of the non-profit organisation beautifully: they believe “in making things better by making better things.”

This product could help decrease the staggering number (2 billion) of people who suffer from soil-transmitted diseases and parasites. The organisation reports that there are currently 300 million children who do not have shoes. And many more wear ill-fitting ones. The Shoe That Grows is a fantastic example of technology helping the world. Beyond things like reducing lead times and sample iterations, and getting that return on investment, it’s clear that this product can really make a difference.

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It’s impossible to put into words the effect a presentation like this has on a room, just as it is impossible to capture the atmosphere and content of an event like PI Apparel. Nevertheless, in an effort to do the content justice I’d like to finish this report by mentioning briefly a few more excellent keynote speakers.

The intelligent Elle Thompson, VP of PLM & Special Project Operations for Marc Jacobs, presented the focus group: ‘Incorporating Merchandising into PLM’. Elle has acquired almost 20 years of experience across PLM, technical design, and product development and worked for leading brands like Liz Claiborne and Tommy Hilfiger. Like Craig Crawford, Elle is no stranger to WhichPLM, having written an exclusive piece on ‘PLM in a Multi-Brand Multi-Product Environment’ for our last annual publication.

For her PI session, Elle explained how working in silos, with disparate excel spreadsheets, is no way to run a multi-million dollar company. She shared how her team was able to conquer these obstacles by implementing a PLM system that incorporated the Merchandising processes. When it comes to modern technologies Elle, is knowledgeable and passionate, always on the lookout for new ways to improve the design and development process at Marc Jacobs. She is constantly experimenting with advanced software solutions and is always open to exploring new technologies like 3D – one of her next projects!


In another focus group, Walter Wilhelm, VP Business Process at Black Diamond Inc., discussed ‘Rolling out PLM into the Supply Chain Group.’ Walter has vast experience in apparel retail, as well as technology sales, installation and support. Indeed, Walter once held the position of Director of Sales at Freeborders, alongside co-workers like myself! As well as working for Black Diamond, he continues his role as Strategic & Marketing Advisor at WWA (Walter Wilhelm Associates).

Before implementing PLM, Walter explained, the Supply Chain Group at Black Diamond had been struggling. Their workforce was often sidelined by other activities and, as a result, data collection and management had become inaccurate. Supply chain visibility was really suffering. Walter discussed the role of PLM in enhancing true supply chain visibility into each product that Black Diamond now manufacture and sell.

Advocating the need for C-level buy-in was keynote speaker David Grant, in charge of PLM and Design Systems for Fast Retailing. David has implemented several award winning PLM solutions from both the consulting and internal project management sides, not to mention his experience with ERP, Assortment Planning, Corporate Blogging, BI, & 3D/CAD. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside David on a joint PLM project for an international brand in the United States. Presenting ‘Promoting a Supportive Culture for Long-Term Process Success,’ David emphasised the importance of training, communication, and buy-in when it comes to a PLM project. Ensuring cultural engagement, and involving key players early on in the process, should be top priorities in anyone’s roadmap. In the past

Lastly, one speaker who’s certainly been on a roadmap of her own was Khirma Eliazov, presenting: ‘Those who are the Most Successful are those who are the Most Resilient.’ And resilient she was. I really loved her passion and presentation. Founder and CEO of her namesake brand, Khirma knows perseverance.


She passed on a career in law to pursue her dream of one in fashion. With the goal in mind of launching her own collection one day, she spent years studying the industry from every angle. Having held the position of Merchandiser for Tommy Hilfiger, and freelance Editor for Vogue and Elle, Khirma turned to creating her own designs. Using knowledge acquired along the way, she began by learning to draw with the help of some friendly designer friends; she then knocked on the doors (quite literally) of production houses and tanneries asking for help to learn the ropes. Throughout her journey, Khirma, wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.


Her passion and persistence paid off and she went onto create her first samples, reportedly selling $120,000 worth of stock in just one day. Now with an eponymous line of handbags, her brand continues to grow. Once destined for law, Khirma is now a largely self-resourced entrepreneur, with a passionate and resilient story to tell. I’m certainly looking forward to catching up on the next chapter of here life and, if it’s anything like the first, it’s going to be an exciting one!

Overall, I must say that Product Innovation stands proud as a particularly important and useful event for those visitors present; it reaffirmed what technology is moving at an ever-increasing pace and you cannot keep waiting on the sidelines before jumping in. PLM continues to improve year on year and today’s retailers and brands are much less skeptic than before. Successful adoption is rife and the presence of so many 3D businesses – be it CAD, printing, fit etc. – only further acknowledges the demand for our upcoming PLM & 3D publication. The WhichPLM Report: Fifth Edition is due for publication around September.

There was a very positive atmosphere surrounding the event, shared amongst a wealth of contributors, speakers delivering quality subject matter, and topical presentations. PI Apparel 2015 saw a good mix of supporting technology vendors, implementers and consulting businesses. One of my main takeaways was the positive mix of core PLM and 3D vendors that are playing a key role in what can only be described as a 3D tsunami heading our way!

And my final comment is that we must not forget what PLM is; in the words of WhichPLM it’s an “Ideology or methodology” helping to improve the end-to-end process. Processes including: design, development, manufacturing and disposal of products. When it comes to software solutions, PLM is that backbone helping to join the many solutions that typically exist within an organization’s technology stack.

This year we have seen the 3D vendors take part in the PI event; let’s not forget that Extended-PLM covers a wide range of supporting solutions, and so I’m looking forward to seeing more E-PLM vendors next years.

Mark Harrop signature

About Mark Harrop

Mark Harrop is the founder and Managing Director of WhichPLM. During a career that has spanned more than four decades, Mark has worked tirelessly to further the cause of PLM – providing the unbiased, expert advice that has enabled some of the world’s best known retailers, brands and manufacturers achieve efficiency savings across their entire supply chain through informed technology investments.