Wholesale fashion fabric aggregate SwatchOn is approaching the apparel industry with the goal to connect the highest-quality textiles South Korea has to offer to global brands. But part of its push is to minimize the industry’s overall carbon footprint and get designers up to speed on digital fabrics. To get closer to that goal, SwatchOn is partnering with 3D fashion design software CLO Virtual Fashion to digitize the 200,000 fabrics SKUs on its sourcing platform.
Founded in 2017, SwatchOn, a member of the CFDA Supply Chain Collective, serves as a members-only, B2B platform bringing these products from 750 suppliers to 12,000 brands around the globe. CLO is an investor in SwatchOn as part of its recent Series B funding round in April.
SwatchOn has a small three-yard minimum order quantity (MOQ) for its fabrics, giving emerging brands the opportunity to create less waste, keep excess fabric out of landfills and reduce sourcing costs. But the company also ships in quantities up to 500,000 yards, supporting emerging designers and established mid-size brands while supplying some of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world.
Where CLO comes in is by making the fabrics actionable and accurate for fashion designers using both platforms. This month, 25 percent of SwatchOn’s fabric offerings will be converted into digital files compliant with CLO 3D software. Next year, SwatchOn will launch its full digital fabric library making all of its offerings accessible.
Not only do SwatchOn’s CLO 3D-compliant high-quality digital files reflect the physical parameters of the digital fabric’s real-life twin, but the actual fabrics can also be ordered and fulfilled by the company’s website, keeping virtual design and physical fabric fulfillment in the same streamlined workflow.
“When you’re talking about digital fabrics, a very important thing is that you’re not just scanning the surface or pattern, it’s more about the physical parameter,” SwatchOn CEO Yonmi Michelle Jung told Sourcing Journal. “If you want to actually use a 3D design software and not make a physical sample and reiterate that for weeks and weeks, the fabric has to work accurately within the CLO software in order to actually achieve your goal.”
Jung noted that despite the recent fabric digitization push, many companies are still creating inaccurate files that fail to represent the true nature of the fabric, ultimately hampering smaller and even mid-sized brands due to the costs necessary to access higher-quality files.
Will Lee, co-founder of SwatchOn, pointed out that while scanning the surface of the fabric is important, the inaccuracies that come from only focusing on that aspect of the digitization process can have a significant impact on how a garment can bend or drape on a human form.
“At this stage, we are trying to create every digital fabric of the average fabric by ourselves, because at the starting point of this digital era, the quality of the fabric is so important,” Lee said.
SwatchOn is focusing on both fashion brands that do use CLO-like technologies, and those that haven’t used any kind of 3D garment simulations technologies, Lee said, noting that most independent brands and designers typically fall in the latter category.
“For the first group, we are trying to build a system where users can just go onto the SwatchOn digital fabric library and everything’s there,” Lee said. “Every digital fabric right there is always purchasable. After I use that for the simulation, I can just purchase the actual fabric of the version I use and buy it on SwatchOn. We’re trying to make people rely on the SwatchOn database.”
For brands or designers who don’t use CLO, SwatchOn will leverage the platform to mock up simulations of their own to show how fabrics can translate into certain clothing types.
SwatchOn offers more than 80 types of fabrics, from cotton woven, denim, faux leather and suede, jersey knits, and lace, to polar fleece, sequins, satin, silk and velvet among many others. As part of the company’s sustainability goals, Swatch offers sustainable fabrics including subcategories such as recycled fabrics made by recycling pre-consumer waste, and sustainable fibers including Tencel, Meryl, Iscra-S and Tanboocel-Bamboo.
The company says it has a five- to 10-day average turnaround for deliveries worldwide.
Membership with SwatchOn includes a dedicated sourcing manager to help brands at all steps of the fabric ordering process, as well as free shipping of Swatchboxes, its swatch sampling service.