Embracing the “new normal” due to the coronavirus pandemic means going full throttle on all things digital — even for fashion brands.

Singapore-based brand Browzwear, a technology solution firm for the apparel industry, and Stitch, a tech incubator originating from PVH Europe, said the companies will work closely together with the newly launched Stitch Accelerator Program, which creates 3-D design workflows and tools for fashion and apparel brands.

Read the full article, by Tracey Meyers on April 15, 2020

 

Originally posted on Sourcing Journal 

While sustainability may be a common thread throughout any conversation in the apparel business, the truth is that the industry has hamstrung itself thanks to years of poor, inefficient practices and a reliance on fast fashion.

Now, all companies—from brands to manufactures to retailers—are struggling with nearly every aspect of sustainability, including how to even define it.

And although we’re seeing more technologies that promise to improve things, effecting change is more than just installing new tech or even fixing legacy production processes. Lena Lim, the co-founder of Browzwear, joined a recent Sourcing Journal podcast to discuss why it’s more important for companies to develop a holistic mindset—which may be somewhat surprising coming from the co-founder of a tech company.

Listen to learn:

  • Why sustainability is actually more than just decreasing waste
  • Why tech alone can’t save us
  • How companies can use metrics other than sales to gauge their financial growth
  • The “myth” of greenwashing
  • Who’s getting it right

Article by Avihay Feld, published on Fashion Mannuscript Magazine

In the fall of 2018, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company’s State of Fashion projected that 2019 would be a year of awakening for the industry. “The old rules simply don’t work,” they said. To thrive in the new paradigm, they advised, companies need to shift to digital-first thinking, speed their time to market and respond to the increasing consumer demands for sustainability and social responsibility.

The key to making the changes we need to thrive is technology. And while making big expenditures for software and the like may seem like a gamble in an industry where over half of clothing lines fold within their first four years in business (according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute), the reality is that choosing not to follow the path of digital transformation is the much bigger business risk.

The good news is that innovation in the fashion industry is flourishing. If 2019 was the year of awakening, 2020 should be the year of action, and every fashion business, from a small, independent designer to the world’s biggest conglomerates, should make this priority No. 1 in this new year.

Think Digital First

In 2017, a Danish TV station revealed that the fast-fashion retailer H&M had burned 60 tons of new and unsold clothes since 2013. There was an instant backlash, and the retailer immediately rolled out plans to be a better global citizen. A similar public relations nightmare struck Burberry, and while both companies recovered after making clear plans of action to change their ways, it’s almost certain there are still companies that simply haven’t been caught executing incredibly wasteful practices. For them, two years later, the public might not be so forgiving.

Why did H&M and Burberry have so much excess in the first place? Because we make too much stuff. In fact, According to the Australasian Circular Textile Association, about 30% of garments that are produced are never sold.

Fast fashion harkened in an era in which quantity was king. Manufacturers would just keep producing new things, and those things would end up in stores where people might buy them. Since a crop of new merchandise was always on the way, the items that didn’t sell were drastically marked down. And if they still didn’t sell, they were disposed of, whether in a landfill or, a la H&M, in a fire.

Now we’ve been awakened, and in 2020, the action we need to take is stepping away from the materially and economically wasteful path of “produce first, cross your fingers and hope that it sells.” And we do that by thinking digitally first.

In apparel production, digital thinking can take a few different forms. One is to harness the insights that are locked in the data you’re likely already collecting to better align production and sales. With artificial intelligence-based systems for predictive analytics becoming more accessible and affordable, companies of all sizes can gauge demand for a certain item, size, color, etc. and manufacture accordingly. In addition, tech giants like Amazon and IBM are helping brands leverage insights to ensure more of the items produced are sold, and fewer items are destroyed.

Another digital-first initiative that has had positive repercussions for marketing and social responsibility is incorporating the new generation of apparel software into the pre-production workflow. Last fall, PVH-owned Tommy Hilfiger made industry headlines with the declaration that, by 2021, the company’s apparel collection — 60,000 items per year — would be done entirely in 3D. This move drastically reduces resource usage, from decreasing the time it takes to create different iterations and visualize colorways to eliminating the need for physical samples altogether. Going one step further, the simulations that come from the 3D software on the market today are so true to life that it’s possible to merchandise a collection completely digitally, and then only produce what’s been ordered.

Speed Time to Market

The second necessity for survival in today’s challenging fashion industry is getting products to market faster. This is another area where advancements in technology play a key role. McKinsey’s 2018 report, “Measuring the Fashion World,” estimates the average time to market for mid-range companies is 32 weeks, while value and discount companies are a bit faster at 27 weeks (which is still over six months). The design process alone can take 10 weeks; that’s nearly three months, or an entire season. With digital workflows like the ones being implemented at PVH, months can be shaved off the cycle.

With the emergence of smart factories, the entire process from concept to commerce can be brought down to weeks. Deloitte describes a smart factory as, “A leap forward from more traditional automation to a fully connected and flexible system — one that can use a constant stream of data from connected operations and production systems to learn and adapt to new demands.”

In a smart manufacturing scenario, the instructions for a garment’s production are transferred digitally to the factory in a way that is understood by the machines. With ever-more-capable robotics, things like cutting and sewing can be conducted with little human intervention. Because fabric has very different physical qualities than things like auto parts, a fully automated production process is still aspirational. Still, innovations in areas like artificial intelligence and sensors are making apparel industry 4.0 more of a reality every day.

Responsibility & Sustainability

The last of the actions most imperative to fashion businesses in 2020 is addressing — and mitigating — the industry’s history of irresponsible and unsustainable practices. Moving to data-driven production and adjusting supply to meet demand is an obvious positive step in this direction. So is smart manufacturing. Not only can automated processes reduce waste by being more precise than humans can ever be, they require fewer people, thus lowering manufacturing costs. With lower manufacturing costs, companies can adjust where they are making goods to shorten their supply chain. It’s good for the bottom line as well as for Mother Earth.

Perhaps less visible to the end consumer but no less important is minimizing the negative impact caused by the materials with which we make our garments.

“While cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans,” EcoWatch reported. “Synthetic, man-made fibers, while not as water-intensive, often have issues with manufacturing pollution and sustainability. And across all textiles, the manufacturing and dyeing of fabrics is chemically intensive.”

While a designer can’t change how many gallons of water it takes on average to process cotton, he or she can take environmental impact into consideration when selecting which fabrics to use or from whom to purchase them.

For example, the processes involved in denim production are notoriously water intensive, using anywhere from 500 to 1,800 gallons to grow, dye and process the cotton, according to treehugger.com. But there are innovators who are pioneering solutions that use less. One is the Spanish company Jeanologia. Not only has it created new ways to finish denim and other materials in environmentally sustainable ways, but it’s trying to help other companies to reduce the impact of their own garment finishing processes. By 2025, the company strives to eliminate water waste in the textile processing. It’s also helping other companies to understand and reduce the negative impact of its own processes by making their Environmental Impact Measuring software available to the entire industry.

The status quo under which fashion has operated since the dawn of prêt-à-porter has been wasteful and inefficient. Many in the industry have been reluctant to step away from the old ways, but as McKinsey noted, the old ways no longer work.

In 2019, the problems in our industry became so apparent that we had no choice but to have an awakening. Now it’s 2020. Change isn’t a choice; it’s an imperative. It’s also a good thing that will enable us to be a more sustainable industry, both environmentally and economically.

The digital platform allows designers to create new designs incorporating YKK® fasteners and send error-free instructions to production, reducing waste and speeding time to market.

YKK, a global leader in fastening solutions, including zippers, plastic hardware, hook and loop fasteners, webbing tapes, and snaps and buttons, is among the growing number of prominent companies in the industry to partner with Browzwear to facilitate creative design and speed time to market. Both companies also share a commitment to driving innovations for more sustainable processes and practices for apparel businesses.

“At Browzwear, we are constantly building partnerships and developing new solutions that will streamline the design process for our clients from concept to commerce,” said Sharon Lim, co-founder and CEO of Browzwear. “A zipper may seem simple, but designing and manufacturing with that zipper is actually complex. With YKK’s products available in our platform in true-to-life 3D, we’re changing that, and we feel confident that our customers will benefit from the ability to work faster and smarter.”

“Browzwear, which shares YKK’s vision for a more innovative, sustainable and efficient fashion industry, is an ideal partner for us. We look forward to working closely with the company to build pioneering solutions that will achieve those goals.” said Takashi Tsukumo, Vice President, Global Marketing Group, YKK Corporation.

The first stage of the YKK integration will be available in the January product update. The YKK catalogue will be incorporated in phases, with new products added in each of Browzwear’s software updates.

Browzwear and the Fashion Institute of Technology NYC invite you to attend our “3rd Annual Browzwear FIT Night” event, where you will hear from leaders in the apparel industry.

This year we will focus on “Human Creativity in the Digital Age”. Attendees will have the opportunity to:

  • Discover innovative 3D apparel technology
  • Learn about the user experience and end-to-end 3D digital workflow
  • Listen and engage with prominent industry speakers from PVH, Nordstrom, and others
  • Explore a showcase of our partners’ solutions
  • Network with leading professionals over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

September 10, 2019

Fashion Institute of Technology, Katie Murphy Hall,

New York City, NY

5:30 – 7:00 pm  Registration, partners’ exhibition and cocktail reception
7:00 – 8:30 pm  Opening session and panel: Human Creativity in the Digital Age
8:30 – 9:30 pm  Drinks, hors d’óeuvres, and solutions showcase

 

RSVP NOW

 

(Spots are filing up fast)

We look forward to seeing you there.

The Browzwear Team

Looking for ways to expand your knowledge base? Want to get up to speed with the latest trends in apparel design? Now you can earn a 3D Apparel Design Certificate from FIT, New York’s internationally recognized college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business. Browzwear and FIT have teamed up to offer a new five-week course introducing you to VStitcher for more creative designs, faster time to market and less waste. In this five-week course, you will learn how to work in a 3D design environment, develop basic blocks into new garments, build fabric and trim libraries, use 3D imaging to test pattern fit across a range of activities, create and manipulate virtual samples and more. You will also learn to apply a variety of fabric textures and prints onto 3D images to see how’s garments are affected. Click here to sign up today.