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Isko Teams with MIT to Accelerate Smart Textiles R&D

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Fashion and technology no longer exist in separate silos. The industry’s adoption of technological advancements has been disrupting the way the denim supply chain operates in recent years.

An expert in woven technologies, Turkish denim mill Isko is furthering its technology-first approach with a new partnership with MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). The company announced Monday its participation in CSAIL’s Alliances program, which allows it to research and develop smart textiles and wearable technologies with the help of the program’s researchers, students and industry partners. Last month, a team of 27 Isko employees participated in the CSAIL Alliances Annual Meeting to discuss cutting-edge research and network in anticipation of the new partnership.

CSAIL spearheads new research in computing that improves the way people work, play and learn. It centers on 25 areas of interest, including AI, big data, computational biology, energy, healthcare, human-computer interaction, internet of things (IOT) and manufacturing. The program brings together more than 1,200 people, 60 research groups, 120 researchers and 600 students working on more than 900 active projects. Through its participation, the company hopes to accelerate its vision for a more sustainable future.

“We strongly believe in the power of collaboration,” said Egemen Bilge, Isko’s innovation value manager. “Over the years, we have worked to build a highly valuable network with world-leading organizations and companies in order to combine strengths and resources to bring innovation through new products and technologies. This partnership is proof of this commitment, leading the way to further developing smart technologies, new solutions and bringing the textile industry into a new era.”

Isko has a track record of using technology to create a better future for the denim industry—even when it means partnering with a competitor. Earlier this month, the company joined forces with Pakistan-based denim manufacturer Soorty to bring Isko’s fabric technology to Soorty’s vertical production capabilities through an exclusive licensing agreement. The Isko Future Face by Soorty collection, the companies’ first collaborative effort, features a collection of patented woven fabric that looks like a knit.

The company believes a more sustainable, efficient supply chain requires all partners to do their part—and many are following suit. Levi’s has recently doubled down on its AI investment, providing employees in various departments with technological training. In May, denim bleaching got an AI update as well when Wiser Tech developed Wox, a device that collects data on the production process and feeds it to artificial intelligence algorithms. Sensors located at different parts of the system can identify possible abnormalities at all stages of the process, giving it the ability to identify and assess its own needs.

Supplier negotiations have also benefited from technological innovations. AI-based platform Pactum uses the power of automated chatbots to personalize negotiations on a large scale and save time and money on the retail side, with Walmart already seeing big benefits.

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