Without a doubt, 2020 will set the stage for major changes across industries throughout the world. Adoption of new technology and innovation will be key for industries to survive a newly tumultuous corporate landscape, and the fashion industry is no exception.
That’s why in October, Gerber Technology launched its Fashion Transformation Initiative, which consists of a collective of fashion experts available to help manufacturers, designers and retailers adapt and digitize for success in the post-Covid world.
Reactions to the pandemic have already shown that the industry is willing to adapt and transform at a rapid pace. In fact, during the crisis, Gerber has helped nearly 2,000 companies retool their processes to support personal protective equipment (PPE) production.
Here are five anticipated trends that the Fashion Transformation Initiative is aiming to accelerate even further as the industry continues to adapt to this new normal.
A push for environmental sustainability
Environmental friendliness has become an increasingly important facet of business in every industry, and that doesn’t look to change in 2020. As we learn more and more about the negative effects of unsustainable practices, it is becoming obvious that our current efforts are simply not enough. The fashion industry is well aware of this.
It is no secret that the fashion industry has always generated a tremendous amount of waster. Many older materials and fabrics are not biodegradable, and clothing factories can consume an exorbitant amount of energy. While it was common in the past for customers to turn a blind eye to such conditions, this is no longer the case.
Consumers are beginning to demand more sustainable materials and practices from their clothing providers, and the industry will have to pay attention. This means committing to leaner, more connected supply chains that will allow them to maximize material utilization, reduce waste and decrease costs.
Corporate responsibility for the Covid era
As Covid-19 continues to change the way we work, businesses have been tasked with new responsibilities to keep their employees safe and healthy. As many offices and factories began to close due to lockdown, businesses had to quickly implement collaboration tools to enable their employees to work remotely.
Technology has helped many companies quickly and successfully transition to the new reality of manufacturing, without disrupting their workflow. Software, such as AccuMark and YuniquePLM, has empowered companies to still remain productive while working remotely, ensuring companies are able to still deliver products to the market on time.
This goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. With so many synthetic and bioengineered materials that have become available, clothing manufacturers can provide sustainable products that will impress customers and communities. As fashion is always forward-thinking, these items might open entirely new paths for certain styles and trends.
Some of these materials will even break into the digital realm, with the ability to do things like change color or store electricity. Smart textiles will also likely see a surge in popularity, as they help customers remain connected by simply using the clothes that they are wearing.
A new digital world
Fashion has had an increasing online presence for some time now, but it has remained one of the larger holdout industries in the brick-and-mortar realm. Despite the convenience of online shopping, many customers still preferred to see, feel, and try on their clothes in person. Technological advances were starting to change that, and the Covid-19 crisis will likely expedite the transformation to a digital marketplace.
With impressive apps and software programs that can measure customers through a phone camera, there is no longer as much risk in size discrepancies that might arise from ordering a garment online. Online ordering can also increase customization and reduce supply-chain waste, which is something that is a benefit for both the consumer and the manufacturer.
Internally, fashion companies will need to implement software, such as 2D/3D CAD and PLM, to digitally collaborate, manage files and data, improve efficiency while working remotely and perfect the ready to produce fit and style of garments before they’re sold. With online shopping, there’s a greater risk of return because consumers have difficulties identifying the right fit and size, resulting in 40 percent of merchandise being returned, which has a large impact on revenue. By implementing technology that will help consumers identify the perfect size and fit before going to market, companies will greatly reduce the risk of return.
To help their customers digitally transform, Gerber will rely on the power of their end-to-end integrated platform and support their customers as they bring it to fruition in their own factories. With Gerber’s software, fashion companies can leverage tools such as AccuMark® and YuniquePLM® to fully connect their design room to the cutting room, improve collaboration among their teams and build a strong e-commerce experience, from design to the final garment.
The cultural landscape
Fashion may generally be considered a progressive industry, thanks to the artistry and creativity involved, but the major players haven’t always held the most diverse viewpoints or employed a truly multicultural workforce. That is likely to change in the coming years as the push for inclusivity, equality, and diversity has ramped up greatly in 2020.
Fashion is an excellent way for people of different cultures to express themselves, but it hasn’t always been readily available or accessible for certain demographics. Expect to see new, local brands experience more success as the major companies promote them and even fund them. Corporate fashion organizations will likely dedicate entire divisions to inclusivity and community outreach to ensure that their products cater to many different cultures.
A focus on the individual
The final significant trend is the shifting focus on the individual rather than on mass production. On-demand and customized manufacturing is easier than ever before for those who fully integrate their supply chains. They’re able to turn ideas into final products in just a matter of days.
Not only will this make it easier to keep customers satisfied but it will also eliminate the need to keep excess stock of items. With an on-demand model, companies will only have to produce what they sell. While there will always be mass-produced clothing, the unexpected simplicity of customized orders may make a huge dent in that market.
To help manufacturers get closer to this on-demand model, Gerber offers the AccuNest™ automated nesting software and advanced hardware solutions like the GERBERcutter® Z1 and various digital printers to turn ideas into finished products in a matter of hours and days.
Technology is the single solution for transformation
While the fashion industry undergoes significant changes this year, it’s clear that technology will be a major factor for success. Those with a fully integrated supply chain will be able to efficiently handle the new challenges the industry is facing and be better prepared for what’s coming next.
As part of the Fashion Transformation Initiative, Gerber’s consulting services are partnering with customers to reconfigure their supply chains, advise on areas of optimization in end-to-end solutions and provide data driven strategies that allow businesses to exit this economic period stronger than before.
Gerber is offering a free assessment to help identify where a business is in its digital journey, allowing them to offer proper resources, expertise and guidance.
Learn more about Gerber Technology and its Fashion Transformation Initiative.