DK Company Fashion Group Saves Time and Money with Color Management

The multi-brand fashion group cut costs and sped up color approval with transition to digital color management system from Datacolor.

A Difficult Challenge

When your lab dips are failing color approvals while using color standards and then you discover you can’t trust the standards to be consistent, how do you ensure that you’re implementing a true quality control program?

This is the challenge that Denmark-based DK Company, a conglomerate of 24 fashion brands, recently set out to tackle.

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DK Co brands

24 Brands Under One Umbrella

DK Company is a leading supplier of men’s and women’s fashion brands whose products are sold through retail, e-commerce and wholesale channels.

The company strives for an “efficient and cost-conscious supply chain” that ensures competitive prices and a wide range of brands that appeal to customers around the world. Although many independent brands fall under their umbrella, an overall focus on quality makes each of their brands highly sought after.

To ensure consistent products, Jesper Gros, Technical Production Manager at DK Company, teamed up with local Datacolor agent Christer Hall at Kromafor to assess areas where the company could relieve pain points in the color approval process, thereby producing garments more quickly and with greater color accuracy.

DK Company has offices in Copenhagen, Vejle and Ikast. Management of the company’s 24 brands is split between these locations. For this project, we focused on DK Company Vejle’s brands to perfect and fine-tune the new methods before rolling them out company wide.

DK Company and Datacolor Agent Identify Main Challenges

Because DK Company manages so many different brands and uses hundreds of factories in several countries to supply their dyed textiles, getting colors right is tricky. Until now, fabrics had been dyed using a physical color standard for reference and then samples were shipped to Denmark where they were visually assessed in a light box by the designers.

The team identified two major challenges when approving colors in this manner: 

First Challenge: Consistent Colors

Even though suppliers were using the correct color codes to submit lab dipped samples, the batches still exhibited differences, so DK Company recalled the physical standards being used by their dye houses to measure each for accuracy. A Datacolor 500 spectrophotometer revealed significant variations between copies of the same color standards.  

“You can imagine how frustrating it was for the designers to discover this,” says Hall. “You believe you are doing everything right, following the standards, using a lightbox to evaluate color, but still getting inconsistent results. To find this variation was unacceptable for them.”  

Next, DK Company did a close inspection of samples that had been sent to Denmark for approval from the dye labs. Again, using a spectrophotometer, they uncovered that 95% of the samples had been cut from the same batch. Prior to this revelation, a great deal of time and effort was spent choosing the “best” sample because designers believed they were seeing 4 different dips, not realizing they had come from the same formulation. 

“This was a combined case of cutting corners and miscommunication on both sides, but it was a problem that needed to be addressed,” explains Hall. “The best solution is good specification, good procedures and good communication.” 

Second Challenge: Reduce Costs

Across all of DK Company’s brands, approximately 700 different colors are routinely used. Fees for physical standards are high and purchasing enough standards for each of their dye labs was cost prohibitive. QTX files could reduce the cost of physically communicating color.  

There was also an opportunity to nearly eliminate the high cost associated with shipping samples to Denmark via DHL. Sometimes samples were sent to HQ for designer evaluation 2 or 3 times before the color was accepted. Although some may feel this is simply the price of doing business, the team knew they could do better.  

spectrophotometer

Setting a New Standard

After identifying the challenges that faced DK Company, the team decided on several of Datacolor’s quality control solutions that would streamline the color approval process, reduce costs, improve communication and increase accountability. 

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Measuring for Success

The first order of business was to eliminate the use of physical standards as a means of communicating color to the dye labs.

With the help of a Datacolor Spectro 500 benchtop spectrophotometer, DK Company Vejle was able to shift to using QTX files that could be digitally communicated to the labs via Datacolor TOOLS software.

 

The Results:

  • Eliminated the cost of providing physical standards to hundreds of factories and dye labs
  • Eliminated the occurrence of off colors caused by inconsistencies in the physical standards
  • Improved communication between designers, dye labs, textile mills and technical offices

Empowering Employees

The next step was to empower a key employee at each of DK Company’s technical offices, starting with their Bangladesh location and eventually implementing this practice at their Turkish and Chinese offices as well.

Because the key person is close to the dye lab locations, he or she can more easily communicate requirements and expectations than the designers in Denmark, plus they are more in-tune with and have a better understanding of the processes at the dye houses.

This one employee would also be trained to use a spectrophotometer and Datacolor TOOLS to ensure objective analysis, reporting, communication and visualization of accurate color results between the technical offices and the dye labs.

The Results:

  • Time to market reduced by 10-15 days because physical samples are no longer sent multiple times to Denmark for approval
  • Reduced miscommunication between designers and dye houses
  • Money saved by eliminating shipping thousands of dyed samples to Denmark for approval each year

DK Co logo

“This is huge. There is a very short amount of time to go to production and sometimes you have to say ‘it is good enough’ because there is no time to make more changes or improvements in the color. Now (with Datacolor solutions) DK Company Vejle brands can be confident that the colors are correct, and they may even have some free time to spare.”

Christer Hall

Higher Approval Rates

The last step was setting a goal to reduce the acceptable level of variation between standards and the final color. With the help of Datacolor’s color management solutions, DK Company Vejle now successfully and consistently meets a DE of <1.5.   

To further ensure smooth final approval, the key employee at the Bangladeshi, Turkish and Chinese technical offices now utilize a Datacolor Check3 handheld spectrophotometer for inspections when they visit the dye houses.

Thanks to excellent inter-instrument agreement between the Datacolor 500 spectrophotometer and Check3, each handheld is equipped with all the spectral data that the Datacolor 500 previously measured in order to establish the new minimum pass/fail DE.  

The Results:

  • 75% of samples are approved the first time and the rate increases to 90%-95% with a second trial. This massive improvement was already reached within the first 6 months after a factory implemented digital color management. 
jeans

In Fast Fashion, Speed is Everything

Fashion brands rise and fall by their ability to satisfy the needs of their customers.

If your company can’t keep up with ever evolving trends because the color approval process is slowing your production, it’s easy to fall behind the competition. That’s why it’s so crucial for companies to get color right the first time.

“The most important thing to note in this success story is not necessarily the cost savings or the improved color control, but in the reduction of time to market,” explains Hall. “In a fast fashion cycle, speed to market is everything. You must keep up with demand and the changing tastes of consumers. Datacolor solutions have made that possible. We’re very happy to have done this together as a team.” ♦

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