Take a second and imagine a world without technology. Isn’t it hard to believe that we once lived in a world where clothing came solely from a needle and thread? Like every other industry, technology has revolutionized the way today’s fashion brands operate. From process automation to virtual reality, the digital wave of technology has simplified the apparel and footwear production process, making it easier than ever for adventurous brands to grow and succeed.
Here’s an inside look at the technology that’s actively impacting today’s fashion industry:
- Supply chain optimization
- Accurate data analysis
- Mass customization
- 3D Design printing
- Artificial intelligence
- Robot designs on manufacturing floor
- Virtual reality
Simplifying Apparel Manufacturing One Step at a Time
From a piece of thread in a factory to an article of clothing in the hands of a consumer, technology has made fashion sourcing, sampling, production, and logistics increasingly efficient. The concept of supply chain optimization relies on information systems to help ease cross-functional communication and collaboration within a company. These systems not only help prevent errors and reduce the time and cost of production, they also enhance the relationship between the producer and the consumer.
Because the fashion industry is based on creativity, it’s absolutely essential for designers to recognize and adhere to consumer demands. Custom clothing is a prime example of a high demand product. Now, with the help of computer-aided manufacturing systems, fashion brands have the flexibility to integrate mass customization techniques into their production line.
Digital printing technology or 3D printers have been a key innovation in the fashion world for awhile now. This technology has helped improve the design quality of products while meeting customers where they are in their preferences of style, color, etc. Despite the fact that 3D printing fabrics and garments is an expensive process that suits the budget of corporate fashion houses better than independent labels, it serves as a tool to help minimize waste and prevent error in the product creation process. Not only that, but the brief time investment needed to 3D print a collection allows fashion brands to deliver high quality, customized products in a timely manner.
Connecting the Fashion Consumer and Trend Data to Create Scary Accurate Sales Predictions...
Whether it’s predicting fashion trends or analyzing consumer demands, brands are now able to make more accurate decisions due to data analysis tools and techniques. The emergence of artificial intelligence has allowed these fashion brands to learn from prevailing customers, solely looking at the buyer behavior. The collection, organization, and analysis of this data is a fundamental tool for businesses to further reduce the gap between what is being produced and sold. Understanding the analytics and insights behind trends and sales is a key component to increase the overall growth rate of smart fashion brands.
“A Robot Made This?”
Robots and artificial intelligence are becoming normalized in the fashion industry. At first, fashion manufacturing robots were confined to performing repetitive, tedious tasks, but now they’re better equipped with memory and communication functions. After years of research and investing in various technology platforms, the company SoftWear Automation introduced their t-shirt sewing robot, Lowry. This sewbot can produce the same amount of t-shirts per hour as 17 factory workers - talk about increasing production! Of course, there are many challenges that come with robots dealing with delicate materials or the need for human intervention, however with the emergence of new technology, robots are now becoming an essential tool to cut costs while speeding up the production process.
The Integration between the Online and Physical Worlds of Retail
Virtual reality platforms in the fashion retail industry are on the rise as technology evolves to create more personalized and productive consumer shopping experiences. Many global brands have been experimenting with augmented reality and virtual reality to merge the online and physical world of fashion retail. This gives customers the opportunity and flexibility to “try on” outfits on an avatar before purchasing it or even seeing it on their own bodies with virtual fitting. A prime example is the Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba. Launched in 2015, the company developed a program that brings 3D versions of products into the real world. These platforms have completely changed the online retail experience creating a more personalized experience for the customer.
Overall, technology has altered the world of fashion as we know it. Fashion brands are using these technological tools to compete and stand out in this competitive industry by simplifying the production process and creating unique customer experiences. As fashion and retail tech grows more intelligent and more competitive, we will continue to see fashion and technology merge more and more closely.