Advanced apparel manufacturing techniques are already beginning to transform the way that garments are produced. This makes the manufacturing process more efficient and flexible, and has the potential to reduce some of the waste that is currently being generated by the ‘fast fashion’ approach to textile production.
The traditional model of fashion production is an energy and labour intensive process, using up significant natural resources and creating significant wastage. Here is a look at how advanced manufacturing techniques are revolutionising the clothing industry.
Automated sewing techniques
Robotic or automated commercial sewing machines can be used to make the manufacturing process more efficient and accurate, reducing the need for manual labour and ensuring consistent standards of quality control.
Digital pattern making
Traditional methods of making patterns involves manually creating paper cutout patterns, which is labour intensive, time consuming and generates waste. Now digital tools can be used to produce customisable patterns to a high degree of detail and accuracy. This makes the design process faster and more efficient and sustainable.
Modern technology has enabled the development of ‘smart fabrics’. These are advanced textiles that are designed to regulate temperature, change colour in response to environmental conditions, or even monitor the health of the wearer.
3D body scanning
Much waste is generated in the fashion industry because customers return garments that don’t fit them properly. Technology is being used to address this problem by enabling designers to create 3D samples of garments, which can be matched to 3D body scans of customers.
This allows retailers to order made-to-measure garments that are uniquely designed to fit their customers, reducing environmental and economic waste through overstock and returns.
3D design and printing
The leading fashion brands are now beginning to explore the potential of 3D printing. This enables them to produce goods on-demand and to customise bespoke products to meet the exact demands of their customers. 3D technology allowes designers to instantly adjust designs and alter fit, so that the end product is 100% satisfactory.
Suppy chain optimisation
The fast-fashion approach is now widely understood to be wasteful, as low-quality garments are manufactured, sold, worn and discarded within ever decreasing timescales. The industry is beginning to adopt alternative approaches to break this wasteful cycle, including supply chain optimisation that takes a ‘fashion on demand’ approach.
This adopts a made-to-order model with smaller batches of production, so that sellers can avoid overstock that often ends up in landfill or being burnt, resulting in toxic gases and ozone pollution.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software can be used to create digital prototypes of garments to ensure that they meet the requirements of vendors and customers, rather than create more wasteful physical samples.
Predictive technology for future trends
Cutting-edge designers are now turning to predictive computer learning models to help them understand the latest trends and tastes in the world of fashion. This allows them to produce new collections that reflect the customer’s preferred colours, silhouettes, styles, and so on, reducing waste and potentially boosting sales.