Smart Key: Can the rapid acceleration of fashion-tech help achieve eco-responsible goals?

The last few years have plunged us into an era of hyper-connectedness. To accompany our transformed lifestyles, the digitization of the fashion industry has accelerated dramatically. From the rapid growth of e-commerce to the arrival of the metaverse as a new way for brands to boost their appeal, tech has infiltrated all business segments.Upstream, in the face of constantly changing demand and supply and production interruptions, technologies for adapting to crises also claim to be able to meet environmental objectives.

From the latest marketing hype to genuine benefits, what technological tools can be deployed to ensure environmental performance in an increasingly volatile context?

Smart Key #1: Better analysis to refine planning

As seasonality is disrupted by collection-timings increasingly focused on micro-trends, some brands are struggling to respond effectively to consumer need.

The mismatch between the product offered and the demand leads to unsold goods, which have a heavy ecological impact. Technological services can help better adapt the offer, to gain in performance and profitability, to produce less and better.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can be used to recommend business decisions. Based on Big Data, Livetrend collects a vast amount of data and images from e-commerce, in order to identify weak and strong signals, translated by their data experts into trends and competitive intelligence for brands.

Smart Key #2: Better design to minimize impacts upstream 

3D scans and design software offer many advantages when designing a collection.
The Vizoo scan captures the physical characteristics of a surface and models the materials down to the smallest detail: the fall, the weave, the texture, the final rendering. The resulting material libraries reliably represent the result.

The next step is 3D pattern making, using software such as Clo 3D, Browzwear or Style 3D. These allow designers to see their ideas take shape in volume on the screen thanks to the skill of model makers experienced in 3D technologies.

These tools are real co-construction tools, facilitating decision making during selection and purchase sessions with an ultra-realistic visualization of the future product. The accuracy of the rendering also provides a digital version of any potential volume defects that need to be corrected, thus reducing the need for numerous prototypes.

Environmental performance is thus improved thanks to a reduction in the use of materials and the multiple shipments required for validation.
Combined with pre-ordering, this reduction in development time allows brands to ensure a more accurate production volume, while delivering their products to consumers earlier than with traditional pre-order systems.

Smart Key #3: Better traceability of the value chain to reduce risk

Traceability is an essential cornerstone in any ongoing drive for improvement.
Digital platforms make it possible to collect online data regarding the origin, composition, water and energy consumed, or social audits, to detect and control any risk in the value chain.

This consolidation is strengthened with blockchain security, creating an unfalsifiable digital register, as proposed by SaaS (Software as a Service) Retraced, Crystalchain and Fairly Made.

Another innovative component are physical markers inserted in the fibers, enabling the authentication of an organic or recycled supply, for example.

Read also: Smart Keys: How do digital tools accelerate traceability?

Smart Key #4: Better produce to achieve both agility and efficiency

Inspired by Lean management systems targeting zero waste, automated manufacturing steps coupled with a balanced management of stock ensures the efficiency of on-demand production services. This approach avoids overstocking and guarantees both economic and ecological benefits.

Tekyn is spearheading this approach with a just-in-time system, based on consumer demand assessed from actual sales. To start, brands develop their collections on the Tekyn platform and determine a first production volume for each reference. These initial stocks will be used to assess the products reception in stores, and define sales trends for each model, color and size.

Subsequently, sales follow-up is connected to the production workshops. Using robot technology, Tekyn’s pre-production sites produce laser-cut product kits that are delivered to contract manufacturers for assembly.

The system works in a short circuit to guarantee utmost reactivity and avoid costs and CO2 emissions due to transport.

Restocking is precisely calibrated, according to previous sales. Garment manufacturers can thus guarantee their production volumes, with a reservation of production capacity dedicated to multiple small batches. The interconnection between machines and humans thus serves to reduce environmental impacts.

Just as AI can be a powerful tool to help us navigate our daily lives, the technologies at the service of fashion in a 4.0 industry pose the same question: what is their purpose? If they have the power to accelerate the transformation of a model, they can also, in the absence of a responsible strategy, serve to worsen the frenetically accelerating pace of supply, production and consumption.

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