Application of PLM in the Apparel, Fashion and Textile Industry


PLM stands for product lifecycle management. The product can be anything that follows from product development from the idea generation to proto-type development to various processes to the manufacturing of the product in mass production for end users. PLM system is used in all product industries. Products like sewn products, fashion accessories, hard goods, textile products, wooden products, automobiles, etc. 

In today's fashion industry, running a successful manufacturing and retailing business is virtually impossible without the support of software. Major fashion brands rely heavily on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, which is utilized by designers, brands, buyers, textile mills, manufacturers, and retailers alike. This unified platform enables various stakeholders across the fashion supply chain to collaborate and access shared data seamlessly. PLM software enhances both internal operations and external communication, driving efficiency and effectiveness in the industry.

The PLM software has reduced all manual activity, cutting the total time consumed in half on average. This has also helped in streamlining sourcing. Now a manufacturer can quickly flip through an array of samples in no time.

A PLM software integrates end-to-end product development and supply chain capabilities, enabling end users to plan, create, develop, source, cost, and follow finished goods through their life cycle to achieve rapid time-to-value.

Application of PLM software in Fashion Business

The following are the major applications and functions covered by a PLM system.
  • Tech Packs development
  • Material Development
  • Product development and sampling 
  • Sample costing
  • Sourcing of material 
  • Testing & Compliance
  • Workflow Calendars 
  • Global Collaboration
  • Exceptions Dashboard 
  • Custom Reporting
  • Merchandise and Line Planning
  • Storyboard and Line Sheets
  • Specifications and Bill of Material
  • Concept to Production Workflow
  • Color and Material Development
  • Digital Asset & Document Management
  • Sample Management & Tracking
  • Time & Action Calendar/Alerts
  • Collaborative Event Tracking
  • Collaborative RFQ & Bids
The above list of PLM functions is collected from various PLM suppliers' websites.

Here's how PLM is applied in this industry:

Design and Development: PLM software facilitates the design process by providing tools for sketching, pattern-making, and prototyping. Designers can collaborate, share ideas, and iterate designs efficiently within the platform.

Material Management: PLM systems help in managing material sourcing, selection, and procurement. It enables tracking of fabrics and trim information, including suppliers, costs, and specifications.

Sample Management: PLM streamlines the sample creation process by managing sample requests, tracking iterations, and recording feedback. It ensures that the development process stays on schedule and meets quality standards.

Production Planning and Scheduling: PLM software aids in production planning and scheduling by providing visibility into capacity, resource allocation, and workflow management. It helps optimize production timelines and ensures efficient utilization of resources.

Quality Management: PLM systems include features for quality control and assurance throughout the production process. It allows for the creation of quality standards, inspection criteria, and documentation of quality checks.

Supply Chain Collaboration: PLM facilitates collaboration among various stakeholders in the supply chain, including suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers. It enables real-time communication, document sharing, and tracking of progress to ensure seamless coordination.

Merchandising and Assortment Planning: PLM software assists in merchandising and assortment planning by analyzing sales data, trends, and customer preferences. It enables the creation of targeted product assortments that align with market demand.

Inventory Management: PLM systems integrate with inventory management software to track inventory levels, replenishment needs, and stock movements. It helps in optimizing inventory levels and reducing excess inventory costs.

Retail Execution: PLM supports retail execution activities such as visual merchandising, store layout planning, and sales analysis. It enables retailers to plan and execute promotional activities effectively.

Also Read: Top Fashion PLM Software Solution Providers

Benefits of PLM Software

PLM software supports the product development process, to integrate people, processes, and systems. It provides a product information "warehouse" for organizations. Primary benefits of PLM software include:
  • Faster time-to-market
  • Increased productivity of the product development
  • Design efficiency
  • Lower cost of new product introduction
  • Insight into critical business processes
  • Better reporting and analytics
  • Improved product quality and reliability
  • More accurate and timely requests for quote generation
  • Ability to quickly identify potential sales opportunities and revenue contributions
  • Savings through the re-use of original data
  • A framework for product optimization


PLM solutions play an important role in streamlining operations, improving collaboration, and enhancing efficiency across the apparel, fashion, and textile industries. It empowers businesses to innovate, adapt to changing market trends, and deliver high-quality products to customers. 

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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