Fashion technology has the power to address some of society’s greatest challenges, namely sustainability and the quest for a cleaner world. In the last decade alone, the fashion and apparel industry has undergone numerous changes, slowly transitioning from once traditional design and manufacturing processes, to an innovative, fully-digitalized workflow. However, the process of creating a garment from concept to shelf is, in some cases, still a long winding road that includes waste of valuable resources and a long-term effect on the environment.
With more than 25 percent of the world’s chemicals used for textile production, the fashion industry is the world’s second most polluting industry, after oil. Gas emissions from textile manufacturing plants currently account for 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions. The fashion industry is overloaded with processes whose effects are emitted straight into the air, including fabric preparation, drying operations and printing.
The combination of environmental battles and the digital transformation taking over the world led to tech-driven solutions that not only optimize the garment development process, but dramatically reduce the global carbon footprint that results from production. Indeed, digital transformation is making its way in the fashion and apparel market, optimizing processes through digital innovation and changing the basic approach to garment design and production. The use of technology is allowing brands and retailers to save roughly 50 percent of valuable resources such as time, money and waste of fabric.
From pollution to solution
The ecological damages done to our planet are widely acknowledged as this issue becomes a trending topic not only for discussion, but for action, too. We currently see major fashion brands working hard to clean up their supply chains by implementing technology to optimize their entire workflow, from design to the finished garment. As the number of large fashion retailers that become more environmentally conscious grows, technology opens more doors wider than they’ve ever been before, and offers more solutions for optimizing additional processes.
The driving force behind the development of innovative tech-driven solutions for the fashion and apparel industry comes from surprising sources, and it is definitely a two-way street. With the influx and growing popularity of digital transformation, brands are further committing themselves to a more sustainable future—to save time and resources, lower production costs and develop and deploy alternative, environmentally-friendly fabrics and textiles. In light of this, the tech industry rises to the challenge and provides innovative tech-driven solutions to create a more sustainable cycle of production.
Optimization, however, is not everything. It’s also about maintaining quality in a fast-evolving market influenced by the shift towards fast fashion and the ‘see now, buy now’ new model of consumer behavior. While the traditional garment production process entails fabrics and textiles that end up on the cutting room floor, only to be thrown out in the trash, the growing need for speed forces garment manufacturers to abandon the old ways of garment creation and embark on a tech-driven journey—if only to prevent the massive amounts of waste caused by the need to move fast.
Indeed, the days of designing, sizing and cutting fabrics on the shop floor or on a mannequin, are long gone. Preventing the loss of garment quality in addition to reducing waste, is up to technology, namely the use of computer-based innovation. Cutting-edge software design technology is single-handedly transforming the fashion industry as leading brands, together with smaller design houses, are now deploying innovative 2-D and 3-D digital design software to optimize productivity, accelerate turnaround time and, more importantly, play an active role in helping to reduce fashion industry waste.
The hub of fashion technology includes 2-D and 3-D design tools that seamlessly turn flat patterns into 3-D models and make adjustments in style, fit, color, prints, fabric type and features—all in the push of a button, which reduces the need for wasteful physical samples by 50 percent.
Fashion and technology–joined at the hip
This is definitely a wonderful friendship. Technology is helping the fashion industry meet growing global demands by making production more efficient. The advent of digitization, newly developed software, bio-engineered materials, recyclable fabrics and fully automated production processes not only assist the fashion industry in optimizing its workflows and save resources, it also allows brands to invest in technology, which will ultimately help them grow and provide additional groundbreaking, eco-friendly innovations.