If you’ve ever walked into a clothing store and seen the same sweater in different sizes, colors and styles, or ordered a T-shirt with a customized design, you can thank technology for contributing to scalable sustainability in the apparel industry.
Technology — specifically, fashion design software that enables digital design capabilities for fashion on-demand (the practice of creating customized pieces) — has been disrupting the fashion industry for years. And as we head into 2022, expect technology to be an even stronger force in the fashion industry.
Here are three ways technology will continue to significantly impact the fashion industry in 2022 and beyond.
It’s Easier Than Ever For Consumers To Get What They Want
Fashion design software solutions like Modo and TUKAcad are helping designers and companies quickly get customized fashion in consumers’ hands. Designers can digitally sketch designs, create 3D models and send those patterns off to be made. And with digital fabric printing, designers can also offer consumers unique patterns.
Say you’re looking through racks of clothing at your favorite store and can’t find the type of top or blazer you’ve been envisioning. Frustrated, you try your luck at another store but can’t find what you’re envisioning there, either.
These days, you’re no longer limited to buying ready-to-wear retail garments. Instead of going from shop to shop (in-store or online), hoping you’ll find what you have in mind, you can turn to a fashion designer or a company that makes customizable clothing. From there, you can specify the details you want (like size, color and pattern) and get a made-to-order piece relatively fast.
Brands Are Managing Their Inventories More Savvily
Without a fashion on-demand model, a fashion brand risks having a large inventory of unsold clothing.
But with technology enabling brands to produce garments on a made-to-order basis, brands can manage their inventories more savvily. Consider designer Autumn Adeigbo, whose company has a made-to-order model. A September 2020 article in Fashionista reported that because Adeigbo sticks to creating just what her customers order, she’s “able to purchase her materials in limited quantities and maintain very little inventory at any one time,” which “minimizes fabric waste, excessive manufacturing and surplus stock.”
A smarter approach to inventory management is arguably more important than ever for fashion brands. According to McKinsey’s 2022 State of Fashion report, consumers will move away from loungewear and sportswear in the coming year and “reallocate wallet share to other categories as pent-up demand for newness coincides with more social freedoms outside the home.” In turn, fashion brands should “anticipate these nuanced and sometimes paradoxical preferences” by relying “more on data-driven product development, adjusting their inventory mix accordingly.”
Fashion Is Expanding Beyond “Real Life”
With the increasing popularity of social media, AR/VR and virtual events, there will be a greater need for virtual fashion options.
There’s DressX and The Fabricant, two companies that only sell virtual fashion. Major fashion brands are noticing, too. Two The Fabricant is working with include Puma and Tommy Hilfiger.
This growing trend of virtual fashion is multicultural and global, and it also extends to designers showing their collections virtually — like Congolese designer Anifa Mvuemba, who previewed her collection on Instagram Live with a virtual, 3D fashion runway show in 2020 so consumers could see 3D versions of the garments in motion before buying the physical garments. Another example is Balenciaga. To exhibit its autumn/winter 2021 collection, the brand held a virtual reality runway show.
With virtual fashion, consumers can “wear” their clothing to online functions, skipping the shipping costs and crowded closet space. It’s better for the planet, too — digital pieces won’t end up in a landfill once they’re out of style. And with virtual fashion shows, designers can showcase their collections in more creative ways that can, in some cases, be more accessible to consumers.
Upskilling To Prepare For The Future
As technology continues impacting fashion, it’s important for design students and seasoned designers to stay ahead by learning how to use digital fashion software and hardware. One great way to do this is to sign up for digital fashion design classes online.
I started my career as a technologist, and because I love the art of fashion, I began learning how to sew as a creative outlet. After I eventually learned more about the impact of 2D and 3D designing in fashion, I achieved completing an associate’s degree in fashion design. My digital fashion design knowledge and experience evolved to support my decision to invest in apparel design software and hardware solutions that today play a pivotal role in the digital fashion segment of my company — one of my garments ended up on the red carpet at the Grammy Awards!
Sometimes, people think that creative work and technology don’t mix. But when you leverage technology in fashion, you can open the door to a new level of unique options for consumers.