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, Amnon Shalev, CEO and founder of fashion design technology firm Virtuality.Fashion, shares why clothing brands should look up to airlines for supply chain optimization and how Covid-19 has shaped digital apparel development.
Name: Amnon Shalev
Title: CEO and founder
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
Air travel. The amount of real-time data collection, processing, analyzing and implementation is stunning. Airlines and online booking websites use the data for promotions, demand forecasting and integration with verticals such as car rentals, hotel bookings or travel insurance services. Apparel can learn how to start rather than end the supply chain with the consumer by promoting and selling online virtual products, using AI to manage consumer behavior and Industry 4.0 to optimize production.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
I like to research online before purchasing, but I will make a gut or impulsive buying decision in most cases. The only area where I still don’t feel comfortable buying online is higher-end fashion, where current technology doesn’t support true fit recommendations.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Service. Starting from delivery lead time to packaging, true-to-description products and after-sales support.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
Distance working changed the way I dress daily from smart casual to 100 percent casual.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
The current era: digital fashion. Twelve years ago, 3D visualization started to make industry inroads as the 2D pattern proof of concept, and today it is becoming a commodity where Covid-19 travel and social distancing forced a complete industry supply chain rethinking.
Who’s your style icon?
I connect to Jeff Bridges’ fashion statement, best presented in the Fall/Winter 2014 ad campaign for Marc O’Polo. Bridges exemplifies ideal ease with classic style statements.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
When the pandemic broke out, we forecasted the increasing demand for e-comm solutions and launched a new eBranding concept based on 3D virtualization.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
We’re a global team, working out of offices and home offices. Delivering large volume projects in short lead times dictates working around various time zones as a team. We’re team players.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
Covid-19 completely changed consumer behavior, followed by the need to adapt the supply chain to DTC (direct-to-consumer) and MTO (make to order). Companies will implement digital fashion to change their existing supply chains and increase online sales.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Covid-19 provided the industry with a golden opportunity to adopt digital fashion. Virtual fashion was merely a trend before the pandemic. Today, accelerating DTC implementation will contribute to production optimization.
What keeps you up at night?
Digital fashion implementation pace could be faster. It doesn’t matter if operations go with 3D as a service with Virtuality.Fashion, or any other solution. Fashion virtualization versus physical prototyping ROI is still an issue that prevents a higher rate of conversion to digital fashion.
What makes you most optimistic?
Listening to the increasing amount of industry key players evaluating complete supply chain digitalization, from design to online sales. As a result, we will see more production optimization and increasing sustainability levels.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
Virtuality.Fashion has launched a comprehensive e-comm solution based on enabling mixed physical and 3D virtual assets for online sales, enhanced by AR and supported by hyper-realistic models and dynamic virtual runway animation capabilities.