Fashion supply chains are changing at a rapid clip, dictated not just by consumer desires for speed, freshness and trend-right styles but also products made with the environment in mind.
And the days of linear supply chains have given way to new forms of production, from on-demand manufacturing to small-batch runs to local-for-local and personalization. “All of these things are coming back into our supply chains,” Browzwear chief commercial officer Lena Lim told Sourcing Journal, adding that 3D design technology is “central to what’s making this happen.”
As a company specializing in 3D design software purpose-built for creating apparel products, Browzwear is deeply invested in helping brands develop the right products quickly, while reducing waste on a number of fronts. Brands that want to operate more sustainably should consider how to ensure they’re producing only what the customer wants to buy, instead of focusing on how to simply make those things cheaper or more efficiently.
On average Browzwear clients produce about 35 percent fewer physical samples, Lim said, drastically reducing their environmental impact during the design cycle. And the company sees an opportunity to streamline steps in product development even further upstream. Many brands review half a dozen fabric swatches before they’re satisfied and ready to move into production, she explained.
“There’s was a huge world of sample making at the swatch level that we haven’t even considered,” she said, noting that digital swatching can accelerate decision making for designers and merchandisers and eliminate multiple rounds of lab dips, for example.
Browzwear client and newly public jeanswear firm Kontoor Brands has been “digitally transforming the way they thought of fit” and what it “meant for the consumer,” Lim explained, and the parent company to the Wrangler and Lee brands wanted to translate its technology prowess into other areas of production.
Which led Kontoor to home in on the wash and finishing process, a step in denim product that it spent considerable time iterating with partner and water-conscious sustainability leader Jeanologia, Lim said. Kontoor’s light-bulb moment occurred when it realized the efficiencies that would stem from integrating Jeanologia’s software directly with Browzwear’s 3D offering.
In the wake of the tech firms’ tie-up, denim brands and retailers that use the Browzwear platform can now visualize their designs with “photographic-quality rendering of Jeanologia’s finishes,” the companies said in a statement. The integration means that details and instructions for each finish follow the garment from design through to production, which ensures that finished products match their digital renderings without sacrificing any details along the way.
Lim credits Jeanologia with embracing an opportunity to put its values first “because the mindset for them was not just to sell another…machine but was to continue to work in the vision of being more sustainable.”
And in the not-so-distant future, the wash and finishing process could move out of the factory and in front of the customer to enable a richly personalized experience that results in a truly one-of-a-kind product. Lim described Levi’s demonstrating this customer-facing personalized wash process in an L.A. store recently. This level of personalization represents a huge opportunity for brands “because then you’re not guessing anymore what they want—you’re letting them decide what they want, and then they’re buying it,” she said.
According to Jeanologia’s Enrique Silla, Browzwear’s similar commitment to injecting sustainability into the fashion industry helped the two companies forge this eco-minded partnership.
“Just as we have been committed to reducing waste and prevent contamination of the world’s precious water supply, Browzwear is keeping thousands and thousands of rejected samples and unsold styles out of landfills,” Silla said. “At the same time, we both want to encourage experimentation and creativity, and through this partnership, we’re confident designers will find freedom along with responsibility.”