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How This Industry Network is Driving Efficiency in Apparel and Textile Sourcing

With so many questions surrounding the stability of factories, the capability to fulfill demands on time and the availability of materials, one company wants to make communication between all parties as easy and open as possible.

Founded in 2016 by a group of industry and tech experts, business-to-business sourcing platform Foursource has sought to provide a space where buyers, apparel manufacturers and textile suppliers can connect, manage their network and business relationships, and provide transparency in the supply chain.

Upon building a reputable industry network of apparel manufacturers and fashion brands, Foursource expanded into fabrics and materials in 2020, and now boasts 80,000 companies in its network.

The shift to textiles came amid a growing number of requests from both sides of the equation as well, with apparel buyers and fabric suppliers alike asking the Foursource team to expand the platform.

Foursource’s industry network is the basis for innovative solutions for both sourcing and product development. Sourcing teams can easily find and compare Tier 1 suppliers (apparel factories) and Tier 2 suppliers (textile and fabric suppliers/manufacturers) with verified company profiles and can connect with their existing partners. They can receive and compare quotes and prices, manage documents and track certificate validity in real time, all in one tool.

Building an ecosystem for digital product development

Product development teams within Foursource have access to a digital material ecosystem with digital catalogues, private collections and supplier showrooms. They can create their own digital material libraries and manage all information, documents and test reports in one place.

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B2B fashion sourcing platform Foursource aims to provide a space connecting fashion buyers, apparel manufacturers and textile suppliers.
The digital fabric catalogue within the Foursource network. Courtesy

All fabrics are available for direct download and for further use in 2D and 3D CAD product development tools, such as Browzwear, CLO 3D, Optitex and Assyst. Foursource also offers a fabric digitization service to brands and suppliers, which guarantees 100 percent reliability of physical and visual material parameters.

The digital fabrics are designed to capture physical parameters, such as the weight, the bend of the fabric, stretch capabilities and thickness.

“Our goal is to make physical fabric samples redundant,” explains Foursource founder and CEO Godecke Wessel. “We want to provide an environment in which product development teams can explore fabric catalogues of suppliers and directly drag-and-drop digital twins of the fabrics into their product development system, that can be integrated and compatible with all leading 3D development systems.”

3D fabrics change the game for digital trade shows

As an alternative to physical industry events that were cancelled in recent months, Foursource hosted some of Europe’s largest trade fairs, including Messe Frankfurt’s Apparel Sourcing Paris and Texworld Paris, as well as the leading trade show for the sports industry, ISPO Munich.

During the ISPO Textrends Award Fall/Winter 22/23 presentation in February, Foursource showcased a pilot version of the 3D fabric visualization capabilities on its platform, in cooperation with its partners Vizoo, Assyst and TU Dresden.

“The 75 ISPO Textrends Award winners were digitally showcased and the 3D fabrics accessible for product developers and designers to use directly in CAD software,” explains Franziska Zindl, head of awards and innovation at ISPO. “The digital ISPO Textrends Hub at ISPO Munich Online 2021 was a better alternative to the physical version than we could have imagined. This solution exemplifies the type of innovation that ISPO Textrends Award celebrates.”

The digitization of fabrics drives efficiency for both the product development and creative processes. With 3D fabrics now a major part of the Foursource ecosystem, physical samples become redundant, shipment of samples around the globe becomes obsolete, costs are saved and the overall environmental impact is reduced. The entire fabric sampling process now becomes faster, reduces waste and adapts to the digitally oriented textile and apparel sector.

The ISPO Munich Online Expo Area and the ISPO Textrends Hub is open to Foursource members and trade show visitors until March 26. Take a look at