Musings of a Fashion Production Manager

Career Focus
As a production manager I am privy to the not-so-pretty innards of the industry, but by the same token I get the first whiffs of designers handiwork and creativity. It’s not always hunky dory in my seat, but I’m allowed to roll glamour (of the fashion world) with hard work (e-mailing even in my sleep!), hedonism (perks that let me own the trendiest samples) with patience (we work way ahead of your time, fashionistas :)).

Processing Dyed SilksEach day begins with checking e-mails and I can usually tell by reading between the lines, if the day is going to be fabulous or not-so-fabulous. My suppliers, the backbone of my job control way more than they know...they can raise me to glorious heights or bring me down to my knees. It is they that do the actual work…a bunch of diligent tireless individuals that will move mountains for me. My duty to them is to provide enough (and more) detailed info, and prod and adjust and reinvent, as the case maybe. The designers and their assistants supply the tech packs, and it is my team that ensures those tech packs are perfectly followed. A button here, a print there, not inserted, pleated I said!, a deeper blue, a wider collar, oh the demands are endless, but you get the picture. And when all is accomplished, the finished samples are sent to me…hold your breath…miss designer says modifications are required! Well, that’s the speed of fashion, faster than the speed of light. So we go back and forth, my hardworking suppliers and me until the final sample is approved and ready for production. Is it any wonder then that the relationships developed and nurtured over gazillion fiery e-mails and a few visits crossing oceans and time zones will last a lifetime? We go through a lot together and that cements our need and respect for each other.

Now the experts (and rightfully so), in dreaming up the impossible (who am I to hinder the flow of creative juices), are the incredibly talented and exceptionally gifted designers. Now don’t let the complimentary adjectives fool you. They’re angels in disguise, with the devils workshop alive and kicking in their minds. No wonder you dear consumer can feast your eyes on individually bleached tees, incoherently sequined tops and burnt out fabrics in the colours of your dreams (read appropriately fashion-forecasted). But no matter how tough they make it, my team and I bring out our magic wands (and with the invaluable aid of our suppliers) make the impossible happen. The goal is to get our design teams to approve our supplier-made-samples.

Multitasking Production ManagerHowever our tale hardly ends once production begins…production comes with its own set of troubles and rewards. The glitches are endless, but the momentum continues to build regardless, until performance is achieved. Hopefully we’re done in time (read most-often-by-the-skin-of-our-teeth) and guess what – we CATCH THE BOAT!!! Because God-forbid we have delivery issues and deadlines are unmet (which does happen – too often for comfort) there are vicious events to deal with and penalties to pay. As for me the production manager, my skin is so thick I come through unscathed every single time!

Let me introduce now, the last but not the least, group of people I work with everyday – the Sales teams. If the designers make it rough, the sales reps make it dangerous. They ask for prices so unrealistically unreasonable, how they’re not embarrassed to ask, I will never know. But oh, do they do an amazing job! They sprinkle sales techniques like fairy dust on my samples and bring in orders to make the wheels go round.  They talk the talk and walk the walk. The orders come pouring in and my industrious suppliers joyously set the wheels of the factory in motion.

Even with the end of one cycle in sight, I see new ones beginning simultaneously. We work hard, and we make it happen, so that you our customer will always have the finest at optimum cost. And that sweet taste of success is what drives us to the next season. The stress may go through the roof, but we don’t just live to tell the tale, we actually thrive. Our customers are dressed to kill in fashion bought at prices to die for. Can you even smell the passion? We do every day...we laugh, we cry (sometimes literally), we fight, we play (again literally) and almost always we succeed. And so we keep coming back for more... especially here in Montreal where success in the fashion game comes naturally, what with immense talent bursting at its seams, passion for originality and a social setting that not just permits but promotes creativity.

 

 

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