Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Rick Yu, chief marketing officer at 3D fashion technology firm TG3D Studio, explains the role digitalization can play in delivering transparency and making fashion less wasteful.
Name: Rick Yu
Title: CMO and co-founder
Company: TG3D Studio
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
I believe the food and beverage industry has the best handle on the supply chain. To distribute the products from one store to another, they have a structural flow from sourcing and producing to delivering and returning.
I believe the biggest thing that the apparel industry could learn from the food and beverage industry is how they utilize digital tools for a better consumer experience. For example, you can now trace back to the farm the meat that you buy in a supermarket. The ability to trace back the whole production process will be essential in the future. Consumers nowadays are more environmentally conscious, and eventually they would want to know the production process of what they buy and whether it’s sustainable or not. Digitalization will be crucial to accomplish this.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I will describe myself as a detail-oriented consumer. I care about how the products were made and what the products contain. I also care about the details of the packaging, such as whether it is environmentally friendly and whether it’s over-packaged or not. I also weigh in on whether this would be something long lasting in my closet or something that has a short lifespan. In general, I want to consume responsibly and would hate to see myself consuming at the cost of the environment and the future of our children.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
The brand that I bought should share the same value that I have to win my loyalty. If I know that this brand cares about social issues—for example, animal welfare or ocean protection—just like I do, I will have more confidence and be more willing to buy its products.
What’s your typical work uniform?
Mostly casual jeans and shirts. Sometimes I would do ‘business smart’ if I am meeting important people. In rare cases, I would put a suit on.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
I like the 1920s-1950s, when suits and dresses were the daily wear. People seemed to pay more attention to the cuts and details as not everyone owned a closetful of clothes like today. Most of the products were made to order/measure, and people cherished their clothing. Nowadays, it feels like people are more trying to fit into ready-made clothes. Even though there is a lot more creativity around, the designs and the trends are moving at a much faster speed. People get spoiled and see clothes as disposable commodities. Because of such, consumers are less willing to pay higher prices for clothes and manufacturers must resort to cheaper products with poorer craftsmanship and less sustainable/less durable materials to ensure they profits. This has turned into a vicious cycle, unless consumer shopping behavior changes.
Who’s your style icon?
I don’t have one in particular, but I do look at how movie stars or influencers dress and try to pick up something that seems suitable to me.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
We decided to launch a 30-day money-back guarantee with a three-year finance purchasing plan for small tailoring businesses because Covid brought huge impacts to their business. We want to lower the entry barriers and encourage those that are forward thinkers to take this opportunity to rethink their strategy for more contactless, scalable operations. It has been very well received, and we are going to focus on bringing success to those that took a leap of faith with our technologies.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
Open minded and respectful. We respect everyone’s professional knowledge, so all of our team members could talk freely and express any opinion about our products, company operations and more. Any initiative could be brought up and executed if it will help bring the company to a better position.
Our company also cares about the development of each individual. Our managerial personnel hold one-on-one meetings with team members every quarter to understand whether everyone is doing things they like. If not, we will try our best to find a more suitable path for each individual and help them to achieve what they are looking for.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
Companies should learn to be flexible and adaptable to this rapidly changing world after the Covid-19 pandemic. Plans should be able to be adapted according to the social, political and economic environment. Companies that adhere to past practices and are reluctant to change will soon be ousted.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
I would say the top priority would be the digital transformation of the industry process from design, production to retail. Although the Covid-19 situation is getting better, digital technologies will still be an inevitable tool if you would like to scale your business, become more sustainable and have more effective communication. In our opinion, digitalization is the pathway to a more demand-driven model for the fashion industry that can eventually lead to a less wasteful and polluting economy.
What keeps you up at night?
I tell myself everything will work out fine before I go to sleep every night, so I sleep quite well. My motto is doing the best I possibly can but accept any outcome.
What makes you most optimistic?
Seeing new customers coming to us with a problem and us being able to provide a viable solution is very rewarding to me. After seeing more and more proven cases that our technology can bring value and indeed help our customers, it makes me more optimistic and strengthens my belief that we are on the right path.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
TG3D Studio’s innovative Scanatic product line provides fully integrated and open digital tools encompassing body, fabric, clothing digitalization and retail solution modules. We help digitally transform the industry’s development workflows and business model through 3D technologies: 3D body scanner, 3D fabric scanner, 3D fashion design software and 3D style management platform that is developed under our own roof. New features such as virtual try-on, foot scanner, body scan app and more are coming this year.