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From 3D printing manufacturing to blockchain logistics, how will technology reshape the future of fashion?

At present, the fashion industry alone is worth US$2.4 trillion and is a key industry in the global economy.
Technology is disrupting and rewriting fashion faster than ever. From design to commercialization, more and more emerging technologies are also appearing on the stage, along with various fashion displays.
Liberating Product Design
Technology has further liberated the garment manufacturing industry, and more garment factories have become automated.
Data collection by fashion brands is becoming more and more advanced, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology will reshape the brand’s approach to product design and development. The key point is that it can predict what the customer will wear next.

AI becomes a “designer”
Google recently partnered with Project Muze to test user-driven AI fashion design through experiments deployed in partnership with the German fashion platform Zalando.
The project focuses on training a neural network to understand details such as color, texture, style preferences and other aesthetic parameters in Google Fashion Trends reports. Design and trend data provided by Zalando are also incorporated.
Project Muze uses an algorithm to create designs that are driven by user interests and consistent with stylistic preferences identified by the web.
The innovation of the giant Amazon in this regard is also wonderful. An Amazon project led by Israeli researchers uses machine learning to assess whether products meet current “fashion” standards.
Lab126, another Amazon research and development arm in California, uses images to learn about specific fashion styles and create similar images from scratch.
This also laid the foundation for Amazon’s “fast fashion”. The e-commerce giant also provides patented solutions for manufacturing systems to support on-demand customization of clothing. The technology can be used to support suppliers in its Amazon Essentials product line or Amazon’s logistics network.
However, the results of AI design do not always meet the aesthetic taste of the runway. More research and development is needed before brands can rely on AI in this regard. But artificial intelligence is already helping brands create and iterate their designs faster.

AI provides real-time fashion trend reference
Tommy Hilfiger recently announced a partnership with IBM and the Fashion Institute of Technology. The project uses IBM’s AI tools to judge and track fashion trends.
Stitch Fix is already at the forefront of AI-driven fashion with its “hybrid design” apparel, a line of clothing created by algorithms that identify trends and styles missing from Stitch Fix’s inventory and come up with new designs — based on what consumers love. Color combinations, patterns, and textiles – for reference by human designers.
With its subscription-based, feedback-centric business model, Stitch Fix implements embedded AI operations based on its massive customer database to help product development and new business development form clearer strategic decisions.
3D design platform CLO says it can easily enable dynamic adjustments to designs. This means brands can already use real-time AI to make product modifications.
Similar to Amazon’s Lab 126 and Google’s Project Muze, scientists from UC San Diego and Adobe have outlined a way for artificial intelligence to learn a personal style and create customized computer-generated images that fit that style for new projects.
Based on this system, brands can predict broader fashion trends based entirely on historical data from their user base, thereby generating designs that can be used to guide products or entire labels.
One of the major trends in future fashion is personalization and prediction. As more and more data accumulates, algorithms will become trend “hunters”—predicting (and designing) future trends like never before.
True Fit has just completed a $5.5 million Series C round of financing, bringing its total funding to $102 million. The company’s big data platform facilitates artificial intelligence-driven promotion of fashion products and apparel.
Currently, the platform has more than 56 million registered users and can use transaction data to determine customer preferences.
Consumer preferences will play an increasing role in guiding every aspect of the design and production process, and platforms like True Fit can help identify the types of materials shoppers prefer and even determine sourcing and manufacturing conditions for some special shoppers. importance.

Disruption of manufacturing methods
Fast fashion creates an instant gratification mentality, and fashion weeks in spring and autumn give brands plenty of time to gauge the interest of retail buyers and customers. In the time between fashion introduction and arrival on store shelves, brands assess demand so that they can produce the correct number of garments for a season.
Brands such as Zara, H&M, Top Shop, and Forever 21 have established their territories around speed and agility. Once these retailers identify a new trend, they can deploy their ultra-fast design and supply chain systems to bring the trend to market as quickly as possible. This allows these fast fashion brands to quickly enter the market.

The concept of “fashion season” is diluted
The rise of fast fashion is impacting the fashion industry’s previous peak cycle of two seasons per year. Fast fashion brands can have up to 52 “micro fashion weeks” every year. Topshop launches about 400 styles on its website every week.
Traditional clothing brands are also changing with the situation, and now there are about 11 fashion seasons every year.
Cheap alternatives to high-end fashion products remain a hot topic in consumer goods. Even amid the retail slowdown, Spanish retail giant Inditex, the parent company of Zara, had sales of $20 billion in the first nine months of 2017, a 10% year-on-year increase.
Fast fashion also has a “dark” side. Some brands manufacture low-cost, low-quality clothing in factories with questionable working conditions, using low-wage workers. The cheap materials used to make cheap clothing are often full of chemicals.

Rapid production creates excess textile waste, and cheaply made clothing harms factory workers and the environment: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 12.8 million tons of clothing are sent to landfills each year.
Social media has fueled this rampant trend, largely leading to an increase in fast-moving demand for low-priced fashion.

Rapid iteration and production
Thanks to technology and e-commerce, the cost of starting a fashion brand has dropped significantly.
Etsy makes it easy for anyone to open an online store and build a following. Today, reduced production costs allow small or emerging brands to produce small batches at reasonable profit margins and build an online audience.
In years past, fashion brands had to manufacture hundreds or thousands of items to produce them at a reasonable price.
But now, startups like Maker’s Row can easily find low-volume manufacturing partners who can meet their needs with transparent standards for pricing and sourcing.
Noah, a New York-based men’s clothing line, makes ultra-small batch clothing lines—sometimes as few as 12 or 24 items—and usually sells them quickly.
Large high-end brands are also evolving their production methods to better compete with fast fashion retailers.
Once recognized on the runway, Tommy Hilfiger can quickly make their new TommyNow series products achieve hot sales online and offline around the world.
TommyNow’s products are launched three times faster than traditional products, with only 6 months between product conception/design and launch. The first TommyNow series collaborated with fashion supermodel Gigi Hadid, and you can imagine how popular it is on social media.
In just six months, the Tommy Hilfiger brand may have revolutionized its entire design, manufacturing, and distribution ecosystem.

Shorten supply chain
Some brands are pushing and deepening “in-house production” to speed up the pace of manufacturing and meet consumer demand faster.
Gucci plans to launch a 35,000-square-foot art laboratory in Italy dedicated to making leather goods and shoes. The goal of the project is to bring the Gucci supply chain closer to the original production site to have better control over product development, sampling, and material development.
Additionally, brands are exploring how technologies such as 3D printing can help them produce goods on demand and create new avenues for customization.

3D printing personalized products
Specialty clothing brand Ministry of Supply recently launched an in-store 3D printer that creates custom knitted garments (and can produce custom jackets in just 90 minutes). Printed garments reduce fabric production waste by approximately 35%.
Adidas is also working with Carbon to create 3D-printed sneakers and footwear parts.
The limited-edition Adidas Futurecraft 4D retails for about $300 and has become a popular running shoe due to its high performance and unique manufacturing method.
Even before the product became a big success, Adi Hydra Ventures had invested heavily in Carbon and joined Carbon’s board of directors.
New Balance, Reebok, Under Armor, etc. have also made a lot of attempts at 3D printing.
“Footwear manufacturing has not changed significantly over the past 30 years,” said Reebok chief Bill McInnis. “Every shoe from every brand is made using molds, which is an expensive and time-consuming process.
“With Liquid Factory, we want to fundamentally change the way shoes are made, creating a new way to produce shoes without molds. This creates entirely new possibilities for what we can create and how quickly we can create it.”

Robotic automated manufacturing of clothing
Many brands use automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) to stock and ship inventory.
Robotic manufacturing of clothing is even more challenging. Startups are combining hardware and software to create automated sewing systems.
SoftWear Automation is developing “Sewbots” equipped with robotic arms, vacuum grippers, and specialized “micromanipulators” that can sew a piece of cloth with submillimeter precision. Sewbots use specialized cameras and computer vision software to track individual threads at 1,000 frames per second.
In September 2016, Sewbo announced that their robot was able to sew T-shirts without any human intervention.
By adopting manufacturing systems that rely more on machines and less on humans, fashion brands of the future will accelerate production and minimize concerns about labor conditions in their facilities.

Disrupting inventory and distribution models
Expertise emerges to make inventories transparent and traceable.
Goods produced using ultra-rapid manufacturing systems will be tracked and distributed using next-generation inventory management tools.
Brands are increasingly deploying a combination of sensors, scanners, and cloud-based software to monitor and maintain inventory. Radiofrequency identification technology (RFID tags) is one method that may be widely adopted.
Unlike barcodes, signals from RFID tags can be read from a distance, reducing the time needed to manually record items.
Macy’s and other department stores achieve better tracking through intelligent product marking to reduce lost inventory and out-of-stock.
The program tracks the journey of raw materials through the supply chain to finished garments, recording and tracking every step of the way, from shearing to alpaca farms to factories, and designers’ studios.
After scanning the garment tags, consumers can track every step of the garment’s manufacturing and output.

Accelerating the demise of distribution
Malls are dying and e-commerce continues to invade the apparel and fashion industry.
Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, among others, send monthly product assortments to members. Customers can purchase items they want to keep and send back items they don’t need.

Virtualized merchandise sales and shopping experience
AR/VR redefines the way to experience fashion products such as clothing. Customers can get a realistic shopping experience on-site, such as virtual fittings, without the hassle. VR in the store will also facilitate the shopping process.
Obsess created a realistic CG virtual store for Rebecca Minkoff. The experience includes the use of VR and other equipment and finally completes the checkout in full.

Technology enters the fashion show
Recently, at D&G Fashion Week, the models were not humans, but drones. The drones that calmly carried bags and accessories on the show attracted a lot of attention.
The fashion industry is fully embracing new technologies. Internet-connected clothing accessories, intelligent knitting technology, etc. have also given new life to this industry.

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