6 Best Apparel PLM Software in 2024

An apparel PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software is an indispensable tool for every fashion business looking to streamline their processes, push products faster to market, and improve their bottom line. 

Used correctly, fashion PLM software can make it easy for you to conceptualize products, prototype, create, market, and retire them after losing market value. 

But finding the right software that fits your unique needs – and budget – can be a bit of a challenge, as there are a slew of them out there. 

To make the work easy for you, we’ve compiled some of the best PLM software you can bank on. They are easy to use, packed with several tools and features, and are pocket-friendly.

Understanding the Role of PLM Software in Fashion and Apparel Industry

In the intricate and dynamic world of fashion, efficiency and innovation are not just aspirations but necessities. This is where Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software steps in, transforming the way apparel brands operate. PLM software is more than just a tool; it’s a strategic asset that orchestrates every phase of the product development process, from concept to consumer.

At its core, PLM software functions as a centralized platform, fostering synergy among various segments of the fashion industry. It streamlines communication, ensures consistency in design, and significantly reduces the time-to-market for new collections. In today’s fashion landscape, where speed and agility are paramount, PLM software is indispensable for staying competitive.

The adoption of PLM software in fashion brings a multitude of benefits. It aids in managing complex workflows, simplifies data management, and enhances collaboration across departments. Moreover, it equips brands with advanced analytics, enabling them to make informed decisions based on real-time insights. As a result, fashion brands can not only anticipate market trends but also react swiftly to shifting consumer preferences.

Digital transformation in the fashion industry has elevated the role of PLM software. With the integration of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing, PLM systems offer more than just operational efficiency. They open doors to innovative design methodologies, sustainable practices, and new levels of customer engagement.

In essence, PLM software in fashion and apparel is about harnessing the power of technology to bring creative visions to life. It empowers brands to transcend traditional boundaries, pushing the limits of what’s possible in fashion design and production.

What is A Fashion PLM Software and Why Do You Need One?

A PLM software is any system, cloud-based or on-premise, that enables you to efficiently track and manage your products through their developmental stages, starting from ideation to entry into the market and its eventual phasing out. 

The essence of utilizing Product Lifecycle Management tools is to streamline product development, allowing you to launch products into the market faster.  

In addition, using the right PLM software can reduce waste by allowing you to forecast accurately the quantity of material needed for a production run. 

Moreover, it can also improve profitability for your business by providing you with actionable insights to shape your marketing strategy. 

Lucky for you, there are several PLM solutions designed uniquely for the apparel industry on the market. 

But before we start reviewing them, here are some key features to look for in PLM software.

Key Features to Look for in an Apparel PLM Software

Figuring out which PLM software is best for your business can be a bit challenging. However, knowing the key features to look for can make your work a lot easier. 

That being said, here are the essential tools and features to check for in a fashion PLM software

1. Intuitive Design and User Interface

The software should have an intuitive design and user-friendly interface. This ensures that all team members, regardless of their technical expertise, can efficiently use the system.

2. Real-Time Collaboration Tools

Collaboration is at the heart of fashion design. The PLM software should facilitate real-time communication and collaboration among designers, suppliers, and manufacturers.

3. Comprehensive Data Management

A robust PLM system should offer comprehensive data management capabilities. It should be able to handle vast amounts of data, from material specifications to design iterations and supply chain logistics.

4. Integration Capabilities

The PLM software should seamlessly integrate with other tools and systems used by the company, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms.

5. Advanced Analytics and Reporting

The ability to analyze data and generate insightful reports is crucial. The PLM system should provide advanced analytics to help brands make data-driven decisions.

6. Mobile Accessibility and Cloud Support

In today’s mobile-first world, the PLM system should be accessible on various devices, including tablets and smartphones, and support cloud-based operations for remote accessibility.

7. Customization and Scalability

The software should be customizable to cater to the unique needs of your brand and scalable to accommodate business growth and changes.

8. Support for Sustainable Practices

With the increasing focus on sustainability, the PLM system should support eco-friendly practices, such as tracking the sustainability of materials and monitoring the environmental impact of products.

6 Best Apparel PLM Software for the Fashion Industry

Let’s now review some of the best PLM systems clothing brands can use to uplift their businesses. 

1. Uphance

Uphance Shopify ERP System

Uphance is an apparel management solution with a powerful built-in PLM module.

One of the unique features of Uphance is its Tech Pack creation capabilities. This means you can create detailed Tech Packs for your product design ideas on the fl and mail them directly to your manufacturer as a PDF with a few clicks of the button. 

Besides Tech Packs, you can also create a detailed Line Sheet to capture the attention of potential customers quickly and easily. 

In addition, Uphance makes managing production materials all through the development phases a breeze. 

Features

  • Comprehensive Solution: Uphance PLM stands out for its all-in-one approach, offering a range of functionalities from design conceptualization to production and distribution.
  • User Experience: It boasts a user-friendly interface that simplifies complex processes, making it accessible for users at all skill levels.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: The platform excels in enabling real-time collaboration, allowing teams to work together seamlessly despite geographical barriers.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Advanced analytics tools provide actionable insights, aiding in strategic decision-making and market trend analysis.

Pricing

Essentials – $199/month

Plus – $399/month

Premium – $799/month

Enterprise – Custom quote

2. CentricSoftware PLM

Centric Tech Pack

Although serving several industries, Centric does have a PLM module exclusively dedicated to apparel and fashion businesses. Using this module enables you to develop products faster, allowing you to push them to the market quickly to start drumming up sales. 

Additionally, using Centric PLM saves you the headache and trouble of manually managing your data using spreadsheets.

Features

  • Mobile-First Approach: Centric PLM is tailored for businesses looking for a mobile-friendly solution, offering agility and flexibility in design and production.
  • Visual Assortment Planning: Unique for its visual assortment planning tools, it aids in creating dynamic product lines that resonate with market trends.
  • Investment Consideration: Centric PLM is an investment in cutting-edge technology, requiring consideration of its cost against the potential ROI.

Pricing

Custom quote

3. Backbone PLM

Apparel tech pack software

Managing your business with Backbone PLM enables you to improve operational efficiency, reduce cost, and move products from ideation to market faster.

In addition, leveraging Backbone allows you and your team to manage access files, components, and design libraries from one spot, hence allowing for hassle-free collaboration. 

Backbone is ideal for fashion brands that are into outdoor wear, athleisure, women’s wear, etc.

Features

  • Focus on Creativity: Backbone PLM is designed to streamline product development while fostering creativity and collaboration among teams.
  • User-Friendly Interface: The platform is noted for its intuitive interface, which simplifies complex processes and enhances usability.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: It is particularly effective in environments where team collaboration is a priority in the creative process.

Pricing

Custom quote

4. WFX PLM

WFX PLM

WFX is also one of the best PLM systems for fashion businesses looking to scale their businesses and improve operational efficiency. 

Furthermore, WFX makes it easy to plan, design, develop, and source materials for your products. As such, fostering collaboration among your team with WFX is a breeze. 

Also, with WFX, you can easily sample and prototype products, leading to speedier market iteration and higher profit.

Features

  • Simplicity and Affordability: Ideal for smaller brands or startups, Techpacker PLM offers a straightforward, cost-effective solution.
  • Limited Functionality: While it is user-friendly, it may offer limited functionality, which could be a factor for growing brands seeking extensive features.
  • Basic Product Development Needs: It focuses on fundamental aspects of product development, making it suitable for brands with simpler operations.

Pricing

Custom quote

5. Tech Packer

Tech Packer PLM software

Tech Packer has no doubt made a name for itself as a go-to PLM solution for apparel businesses looking to modernize their processes and improve efficiency. 

One solid reason to use Tech Packer is that it integrates effortlessly with Adobe Illustrator, allowing you to create pixel-perfect Tech Pack designs easily and quickly. 

Additionally, Tech Packer is packed with a robust annotation tool that lets you add callouts and notes to your designs. 

Features

  • Simplicity and Affordability: Ideal for smaller brands or startups, Techpacker PLM offers a straightforward, cost-effective solution.
  • Limited Functionality: While it is user-friendly, it may offer limited functionality, which could be a factor for growing brands seeking extensive features.
  • Basic Product Development Needs: It focuses on fundamental aspects of product development, making it suitable for brands with simpler operations.

6. BlueCherry PLM

BlueCherry PLM is another great apparel product lifecycle management tool you can count on, hence why we’ve included it here. 

To begin with, BlueCherry offers a streamlined workflow that makes it easy to manage your product design and raw material development processes efficiently. 

On top of that, it supports seamless collaboration among design and production teams. 

Features

  • Adobe Illustrator plug-in
  • Omni-channel support
  • Streamlined document management
  • Robust Purchase Order Management

Potential Challenges That Come With Adopting a PLM - And How to Overcome Them

Adopting a Product Lifecycle Management software for your fashion business comes with its fair share of challenges. Here are some of the notable ones and how you can overcome them.

User Apathy

If you’ve been using Excel to manage your product development process for a long time, you will likely encounter apathy from your team when trying to switch to a PLM software. 

Naturally, we love to stick to what we are used to, so switching to a novel system isn’t particularly a pleasant experience. 

One easy way to overcome this challenge is to take things slow. Rather than phasing out your legacy system right away and switching to a modern PLM software, take it slow. We’d say use both side by side during the transitioning phase. Only make your full switch with your team have become comfortable with the new technology. 

Data Migration

Migrating your data from your manual system to a PLM software can be a cumbersome, costly affair. 

Thankfully, most apparel PLM systems sync seamlessly with Excel, so migrating your data will likely not be as challenging as you anticipate. 

Cost

Adopting a PLM system for your fashion business isn’t free and doesn’t come cheap. This explains why many businesses are fine with manual systems, even though they are anything but efficient. 

Waiting until you have sufficient cash inflow to offset the cost of acquiring a PLM solution might be the most sensible thing to do. 

How PLM Software Enhances Efficiency and Creativity in Apparel Design

The right PLM software does more than just streamline operations; it acts as a catalyst for efficiency and creativity in the world of fashion design. Here’s how:

1. Streamlining Design Processes

  • PLM software provides designers with tools to manage design specifications, materials, and workflows in one centralized location. This streamlined process reduces the time spent on administrative tasks, allowing designers to focus more on creative aspects.

2. Enhancing Collaboration

  • With features that facilitate real-time collaboration, PLM software breaks down barriers between departments. Designers, merchandisers, and production teams can work together seamlessly, fostering a more integrated and creative approach to product development.

3. Data-Driven Decision Making

  • Advanced analytics capabilities within PLM systems offer invaluable insights into market trends and consumer preferences. This data empowers designers to make informed decisions, ensuring that their creations are not only innovative but also market-relevant.

4. Reducing Time-to-Market

  • By efficiently managing the product development cycle, PLM software significantly reduces the time-to-market for new designs. This rapid turnaround is crucial in the fashion industry, where staying ahead of trends is key to success.

5. Supporting Sustainability

  • Many modern PLM systems include features to track the sustainability of materials and the environmental impact of products. This support is vital for brands looking to incorporate sustainable practices into their design and production processes.

In essence, PLM software equips fashion brands with the tools to be more efficient, creative, and responsive to market dynamics, ultimately leading to more successful product lines and a stronger brand presence.

Conclusion

Using the right PLM fashion system for your business not only helps to boost operational efficiency but can also lead to increased profitability. 

Thankfully, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you by reviewing the best 4 systems guaranteed to give you the biggest bang for your buck. 

Ready to take Uphance for a spin? Why not sign up for a free trial right away?

Table of Contents