In an effort to solve the problem of small merchants and designers lacking access to manufacturing and supply chains, The/Studio is offering on-demand manufacturing and design services. The company, founded in 2013, is among a number of firms providing these services to small merchants, large merchants, and even individuals. The idea is to connect firms wishing to manufacture relatively small batches of products - The/Studio says 100 units is a “sweet spot” for profit margins - with manufacturers and supply chains. This type of design-to-supply connection has the potential to cut significant amounts of waste from manufacturing and supply chains while also supporting the quick turnaround times and small batch requirements of modern merchants.
Paired with ever more accurate market data, the ability to pinpoint customer demand and manufacture nimbly could mean huge sustainability gains. On-demand manufacturing provides merchants the ability to meet demand more accurately, instead of traditional forecasting and manufacturing followed by a dearth or more often surplus of product. These types of platforms can also provide small businesses with access to resources and efficiencies they previously never could, thereby levelling the playing field and bolstering innovation. However, with the relentless pace of product innovation and design trends, could this nimble small-batch manufacturing capability fuel fast fashion and other throwaway product trends? If costs and barriers to bespoke design products continue to fall, will we design and manufacture products with only the present in mind instead longevity and future suitability? Read more about fast fashion and clothing sustainability here.