Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by Retailers & Brands
Q: Can all fabric/yarn/dyeing mills work with digital color standards or do they need special equipment?
A: Digital color technology has been used in the apparel industry for 50 years. Today, the technology is well embedded in the production procedures at most dye houses supplying well-known brands and retail chains. The digital color equipment is already in place and available for your company to capitalize on. Qualifying suppliers by learning about their digital color competence is also a great idea.
Q: Why don’t all brand/retail companies work this way?
A: Traditional ways of doing business is one reason, but there is also a knowledge gap at some brands and apparel companies. Some apparel managers and colorists may not have learned about the advantages and widespread use of digital color at college or in the work place. It takes some time to develop confidence in using digital color approvals to make pass or fail decisions but once the digital direction is set, there is no turning back.
Brands such as Under Armour, Lands’ End and Lululemon are all moving quickly toward fully digital color approval processes that make color development as fast as possible.
Q: If only some of our suppliers want to try digital colors and some do not, is it worthwhile? Maybe it is better to change when we can proceed with everyone?
A: Building a digital color management process is a step-by-step journey. Most of the steps can be quick to implement. A pilot project with a few suppliers can help to ensure success when rolling a digital color process out to your supply chain.
If you are interested in color development speed and color accuracy then it is absolutely necessary to use suppliers equipped with up-to-date digital color technology and technical development know-how. Even if you are working digitally with just a few suppliers, you will still attain measurable benefits.
Q: Will the systems and a digital color process eliminate my job as a color manager?
A: No, but your job could evolve into to a more proactive role. You could be spending much more time developing and implementing new products and color innovations that add value to your business. Purely administrative functions such as data entry can be managed using natific technology leaving colorists more time to focus on production quality and next season’s palette.
Q: Our Company is too small to make our supply chain manage color digitally, how should we proceed? Can we influence our suppliers to change?
A: It is a good idea to qualify dyehouses based on their ability to match and manage your colors digitally. If you chose to use CAP mills as an example, you can have confidence in knowing that any color that is feasible on the requested fabric can be delivered in record time.
Q: If we try to go digital and the supplier asks questions or challenges what we are doing I don’t know the answer…
A: It’s important that you and your team learn the basics of digital color management. natific would be more than happy to provide the needed digital color training to improve your in-house knowledge. Our support team is also available to provide technical support.
Q: How do I get started with digital color management?
A: natific has the experience to guide you through the best path to meet your companies color development requirements. This is a really big question and the best answer for your company depends on your requirements and specific situation.
Q: What is the annual cost to get your key suppliers started?
A: Investments in the color evaluation equipment and software are traditionally the first steps. Without knowing how your supply chain works, it is not possible to give an accurate cost estimate. The answer would depend on where your suppliers are on the digital color development journey. Your needs, budget, and business goals will also influence the costs at the brand.
A controlled evaluation of natific’s CLM systems and services is a good starting point. Once you have decided on which natific systems fit your needs, you can move your digital color program forward.
We have developed three service plans that can be fine-tuned to meet your company color management needs, you may review the service plans here.
Q: What’s the Return on Investment? How will time and cost be saved?
A: All partners in the supply chain will have savings. Calculations by existing natific color system users all confirm an ROI of 12 months on their initial investment in natific systems and services.
Q: Does it make my garment buying price any cheaper?
A: It is possible to reduce color development costs in the supply chain and at the specifier. With natific’s nOSC, it is possible to quickly execute new shades with minimum investment by the brand or supplier.
Some natific CAP mills have reported a reduction in annual airfreight shipments of finished fabric which has directly impacted finished garments costs.
Q: Do natific systems communicate with common PLM software programs?
A: natific systems can communicate color requests, results, and production data with your PLM system. If you would like to discuss using natific’s CLM systems to add color to your PLM system seamlessly give us a call.
Q: How can we make sure our dyehouses really choose the best-available dyeing products and cannot get any closer to our color specification?
A: This is hard but if your dye house is natific CAP Accredited, they will have already demonstrated their knowledge and capability to select the best recipes available. A brand/retailer can also consult with natific as an independent technical consultant to confirm or offer recipe alternatives.
Q: We cannot handle all colors and all materials with this type of system... can we? How can we handle materials which cannot be managed digitally…?
A: Generally, for most retailers and brands 70-80% of production can be managed digitally. The type of substrates that can be successfully measured on the spectrophotometer is increasing all the time.
As an example, natific has developed measurement procedures to allow accurate assessment of plush fabrics and toweling. natific’s ASAP system allows the user to manage all color development requests in one cloud-based system whether visual or digital assessment are intended.
Q: If we send a digital color standard, our suppliers still ask us to send a visual swatch as well… so what’s the point?
A: Dyehouses have different levels of competence and technical know-how. If you are dealing with mills who are CAP accredited by natific and you are requesting feasible colors on the specified fabric, then digital color execution represents the daily work process. The mill receives the digital standard from the specifier and proceeds to lab matching and production.
Q: I have a light box and sometimes we do not agree with the color difference results in the color software, we always visually check as well…
A: Assuming the computer is in good working order and the correct settings and measurement techniques were used, we sometimes see a physical standard that is different from the Master Digital Standard. This sometimes leads to differences of opinion between the computer and observer in the light box. Even when using a certified light-box it is essential that the correct viewing protocol is used but it is also critical to know how your physical standard compares to the Master Digital Standard. Also remember we do not all see color the same way.
Q: We sometimes have difficulties with the dyehouse properly interpreting our color comments, what can we do to improve?
A: Dyers understand and appreciate color comments in Cielab DL*, Da*, Db*. If you would study and make sure to use actual color difference comments like the sample is too light (+DL*) and too green (-Da*), it makes it easier for the dyer to adjust.
Colorist comments such as it is too bubble gummy, not soft enough or too gray may drive the dyer to drink! With subjective comments, the supplier is just guessing how to make the next adjustment and the digital color process becomes inefficient.
Don't hesitate to contact natific's support team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!
your natific team