Fashion sample collections are used to finalize designs, to show potential buyers and to assure consistency within the final production. Just as regular collections, the pre-consumer ones require a lot of resources to produce and are flown across the world –usually just to be discarded after use.
But what if you could opt out from this step completely? What if digital samples could be a sustainable option?
Several players in the fashion game are turning to technology to try new ways of approaching this. Dutch digital fashion startup The Fabricant create digital only clothing items and their idea, among other things, is to show that is possible to eliminate the need of physical samples an instead use digital samples.
The Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency (BRIA) is up to something similar. During a digital fashion installation at London Fashion Week recently, they showed how to both create hyper-realistic items digitally and fit them on digital avatars. Doing this, they even experienced greater accuracy than with physical fittings.
The 3D design tools of today offer great possibilities, the users claim. Not just photo-realistic renders of the garment, but also movement: with the help of animation you can add movement, drape and stretch, key elements in a design process.
But completely without the textile waste.
Complete digital wardrobes might still be a few steps into the future, but digital samples could actually be an important first step, offering at least part of a solution for a big industry problem.
Fashion chatbots: when did you last use one? The AI-powered chatbots for fashion made a brief appearance in the business a couple of years ago. Both Burberry and Louis Vuitton launched Facebook Messenger services primarily for shopping, while the chatbot Epytom did something similar but with styling tips instead, built on the contents of your own wardrobe. Somehow this phenomenon never really caught on though. The services were percieved as too clunky and and not very user friendly.
But now, a few years later, things might be changing.
Improvements in AI technology and the increasing tendency for shopping on mobile, is now cited as reasons to why AI-powered services might make their way back again, Vogue business reports. The development is described as a way for brands to speak with Millennials and Gen Z in their language. And the ones driving this right now are said to be personal shopping services such as Threads and Jetblack, who has seen an increase in interest in customers.
What I find a little discouraging though, is that these bots mainly seem to aim at increasing sales in a time when climate issues are at the top of the agenda, and increasing fashion consumption is a big problem. But hopefully there is a way for brands and services to use the bots for other purposes as well.
Size-related returns is big problem in online retail, not least from an environmental point of view. In the UK, fitting is the number one reason customers return their purchases, according to Globaldata. Online retailers have been turning to technology for a while to find solutions for this problem, Vogue Business reports. Zalando and Footlocker for instance, have experimented with tech that aims at finding the best fit possible for customers, among their existing products. But the core problem remains the same: all the ill-fitting clothes and shoes created to begin with.
So, what to do?
Fit prediction platform Body Block AI and 3D scanning company Fit 3D want to help brands integrate 3D sizing into the design process. They have made thousands of body scans, creating a database that gives brands information about size and shapes in different geographical locations.
And apparently their partners are now exploring another approach to sizing, moving away from the classic Small/Medium/Large scale into sizes that ”match the morphological types in their database.
A start at least.
Event season is on and that means Keyhouse in Berlin is coming up. Between September 3rd and 5th, the Keyhouse presents a number of interesting presentations and speakers within the fashiontech and sustainability space. If you’re in Berlin next week, be sure to check out the following:
+ The SusTECHability panel, discussing how trends and technology influence sustainability in fashion. Trend expert Li Edelkoort, H&M Foundation’s Erik Bang and Michael Stanley-Jones, Cosecretary in the UN Alliance for sustainable fashion, are some of the panelists.
+ Interested in new material innovation? Stop by at The sustainable innnovation stand where forward thinking brands within this area will be highlighted.
+ Natasha Franck from Eon will talk about digital identification and internet of things technology and its role in creating Circular ID:s. As Natasha Franck puts it:
”CircularID will create the digital foundation for the circular economy, making it possible to identify and manage products and materials across the lifecycle”.
Yes, the first full length episode of the Stil & Teknik podcast is out! This time I am exploring new textile materials and innovations, featuring an interview with Enrica Arena from Italian startup Orange Fiber. Click on the link or find it later on Soundcloud:
The fashion industry needs change in every step of the chain to become a less harmful industry. Lack of visibility into a very fragmented and non-transparent industry makes it challenging for brands to make the best choices possible.
But various players are now constructing ways to create transparency and add knowledge to the processes. This year’s Global Change Award winner, Circular Fashion, have created a tech platform to enable circular fashion, providing information about the environmental impact of different material and production choices. The designer making the clothes gets the opportunity to choose the best materials and means of production from the beginning, while the consumer is provided with info on how to care for the product. And finally, when the garment reached its end of life stage, recyclers know how to dispose of it in a sustainable way.
Nike, on their hand, just launched a circular design guide, which aims at creating a common language and a common understanding for circular design in the industry. The guide comes with 10 principles of circular design, including Material choices, Cyclability, Waste avoidance and Durability, and every principle is further explained and provided with case studies to spark thoughts and ideas.
And last week Google, innovation consultancy Current Global and Stella McCartney launched a joint project aiming to help fashion brands make more sustainable sourcing choices. The project consists of a data analytics and machine learning tool that aims at providing better visibility about the environmental impact of different textiles. After analyzing the industry’s largest environmental challenges, Current Global concluded that the biggest challenge is within the raw materials stage. They now hope to be able to gain the data and insights needed to help the industry take action.
– Lack of data in the fashion industry is one of the most pressing and complex issues we’re faced with. If you can’t see it, you can’t measure it, and if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it. In other words, without insights the industry is not empowered to make strategic and beneficial decisions for the sake of reducing their environmental impact,” Rachel Arthur, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Current Global, says, in an article in The Current Daily.
Ten new innovators are joining Fashion For Good and their Plug and Play Accelerator. Several of them are making new materials, an issue I will address in my upcoming full length episode of the Stil & Teknik Podcast.
Among the companies joining the sustainable textile and circular fashion innovation platform is Dimpora, who makes a waterproof membrane material without harmful chemicals. Also joining are PondTextile, who has come up with a resin material made from plant starch, that is meant to replace fossil fuel based polyester fibers, and Checkerspot, a technology platform that enables the design of new materials on a molecular level.