Matching brands and manufacturers: new digital platforms want to help accelerate sourcing.

Outsourced to many different suppliers in the Far East, production for many fashion companies is one of the areas in the value chain that they have the least overview of. "But if, like many major brands today, you only know 50 percent of your supply chain," explains Jonas Wand, CSO of Berlin-based start-up Foursource, "then you can't react quickly. You have no control over your process chain." This means that bottlenecks cannot be controlled quickly and the overall speed cannot be increased. However, the latter is necessary if individualized products are to be developed and consumer wishes and trends are to be taken into account.

This is precisely why Jonas Wand and Godecke Wessel founded the Foursource 2016 platform as "a kind of Parship for the textile industry," says Wand. Both know the clothing business from their own many years of experience, Wessel worked at Falke, Wand at Bogner for many years. With the digital B2B sourcing platform they want to connect manufacturers with buyers worldwide and bring both advantages. With only a few clicks, buyers can compare manufacturers based on detailed profiles, machinery lists, certifications, company updates, a digital marketplace and showroom feeds. It conclusively enables buyers to react quickly to marketplace opportunities, like ad-hoc capacity offers. An algorithm brings suitable partners together and Foursource ensures the correctness of the data by validating the respective partner profiles. In countries such as Bangladesh, Turkey, India, Pakistan, etc., Foursource is forming teams for this purpose. 1,500 producers and more than 350 brands from the entire textile industry are already active on the platform, including brands such as s.Oliver, KATAG, Escada, oui, Zalando zLabels, Schöffel, Mango, Odlo, Ahlers and Marc Cain and manufacturers in more than 40 countries.

Both brands and manufacturers are to become more flexible thanks to the platform. Brands can compensate for shortfalls more quickly or find new producers, producers can better manage their capacities and optimize their portfolios. Overall, Foursource wants to "create more transparency in the global, highly fragmented sourcing markets and establish better standards," says Wand. Ultimately, Foursource will also increase competition among manufacturers worldwide, which should increase financial pressure on the one hand, but could also lead to faster results in terms of greater sustainability on the other.

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