Future of fashion manufacturing: Design to sustainability to innovation, tech is re-shaping it all
Mercedes Benz Fashion Talent showcase, Sri Lanka a key highlight
Sri Lankan apparel industry like every other industry will enter a new age with opportunities to harness and build on its strength as a leader in the region for innovation, sustainability, wearable tech and specialist areas such a contour fashion.
SLDF Fashion and Apparel innovation showcase aims to be a global and virtual launch pad to kick off this future aim with some insight in to it with industry showcasing.
“Fashion has always been a hotbed for innovation — from the invention of the sewing machine to the rise of e-commerce. Like tech, fashion is forward-looking and cyclical. At $ 2.2 trillion and even though bound to change, the fashion sector is also one of the largest industries in the global economy. And today, fashion technology is growing at a faster pace than ever. From robots that sew and cut fabric, to AI algorithms that predict style trends, to VR mirrors in dressing rooms, technology is automating, personalizing, and speeding up every aspect of fashion.”
The apparel industry here in Sri Lanka has been a future forward industry with visionary leaders in it and has been a long-term partner and supporter of Sri Lanka Design Festival (SLDF) and with SLDF 2021 a few days from now, we are excited that we can share a sneak peek of future initiatives. From looking at design, tech and innovation education with initiatives like the launch of the MA in Contour Fashion and Design Innovation with De Montfort University UK in partnership with AOD to the launch of CIT labs in collaboration with Hussle Hub, many other industry international and local innovation collaborations will be showcased virtually. It is not just a webinar but a unique content creation platform with storytelling to the opportunity to host workshops to meetings virtually, leveraging AODs strengths in the digital domain. The event will also host almost a virtual Fashion Week, with three days of virtual fashion shows through the Mercedes Benz Fashion Talent Showcase,” shared AOD Chairperson and Sri Lanka Design Festival Founder Linda Speldewinde.
SLDF 2021 whilst focusing on the future, where technology is taking it next, from AR/VR dressing rooms to temperature-changing smart fabrics and beyond and what that means to our fashion and apparel industry here in Sri Lanka.
The future poses many opportunities as much as challenges in a changing landscape, where many areas are changing. For example for product design AI is influencing design and influencing brands phenomenally and in manufacturing there are no more fashion seasons. A push for sustainability has come out stronger than ever and a rapid iteration and production, streamlining of the supply chain 3D printing personalised products, new robot designs for the manufacturing floor are all changes what the future calls for.
Even in areas such as inventory and distribution, from RFID for verification, automation and online integration to blockchain in the supply chain, distribution scaling down to B2C brands shunning physical retail to the rise of clothing-as-a-service all needs to be considered. In the space of retail, AR/VR has redefined the online and in-store experience with digital stylists getting personal to everything in the fashion and apparel industry asking for a re look.
Some of the impacts already tested in Sri Lanka include partnerships with Amazon where Amazon has been over the years innovating in many areas including for example, using machine learning to assess whether an item is “stylish” or not and using images to learn about a particular fashion style and create similar images from scratch.
It’s like a fast fashion by Amazon and it patented a manufacturing system to enable on-demand apparel-making. The tech could be used to support its Amazon Essentials line or the suppliers in Amazon’s logistics network. Sri Lanka manufacturing also supported and was part of this experiment at the time which now very much has become reality.
Since World War II, fashion has been broken up into seasons: Spring/summer lines debut on runways in early fall, while autumn/winter lines debut in February. The staggered timeline is designed to give brands enough time to gauge the interest of retail buyers and customers.
With the rise of fast fashion decimating the biannual seasonality that has long structured the fashion industry. In order to keep up, traditional apparel brands are now debuting around 11 seasons a year. Fast fashion brands, on the other hand, may issue as many as 52 weekly “micro-seasons” per year. What this has meant for manufacturing has been a total disruption.
Technology is changing the game for every participant in the fashion industry: designers, manufacturers, retailers, stylists, and, of course, consumers. From sketchpad to store shelf, every aspect of the industry is being automated or enhanced by tech — making for faster production, more effective inventory management, and a wider range of online and in-store retail experiences.
The result of all this will be a sector that becomes increasingly streamlined while simultaneously offering more options than ever before. A wave of new manufacturing processes, distribution channels, and even raw materials and fabrics will increasingly allow brands to offer hyper-personalised products and experiences.
Automation will displace many roles within the fashion industry and many industries, Sri Lanka Apparel as a forward thinking industry will need to lead and can lead in the region from a manufacturing nation point of view. This initiative at Sri Lanka Design festival will hopefully kick start that direction by showcasing industry initiatives and collaborations in this space.
Sri Lanka Design Festival is conceptualised and presented by AOD, Sri Lanka’s most future ready design dynamic and the most trusted partner for design led industries in the country.
This event is endorsed by Sri Lanka Apparel Joint Apparel Association Forum Sri Lanka (JAAFSL). It will be held on Saturday 16 January from 3 p.m. For more information and registration for this event and others unveiling at SLDF visit: www.srilankadesignfestival.lk.