Crucial lessons can be drawn from the tumultuous year of 2020. The year saw the global fashion industry’s web of supply and manufacturing disrupted and a sharp decline in physical retail interaction. Fast fashion is characterized by short lead times and quick seasonal trends hitting the shelf, a model that carries many inefficiencies—even more so during a pandemic.
So, what of digitization? Digitization in the fashion industry could take many forms. From product design, modeling, fitting to smart inventories, production and efficient supply chain communication—digital resources can be used to enhance investment returns and resource efficiency.
To combat the effects of the pandemic many brands have expanded their online presence. In an abstract manner, digitization is another avenue to connect consumers to creative designers and the value fashion businesses seek to provide. Smarter inventories could take the form of responsive production: only manufacturing a product if a consumer has expressed a demand (made-to-order; just-in-time production). Companies such as ASOS and Zara have already been experimenting with this model.
The benefits of digitization are shared by consumers and producers alike. Less uncertainty in manufacturing, less waste of resources, greater communication in supply chains and increased connectivity to the consumer are all potentially powerful facets of digitization. Further implications of this concept in fashion could see robotics employed in sewing, software interfaces, and virtual fitting rooms. As with automation in other industries, digitization could shift labor needs within the industry—opening up possibilities in other domains.
With fashion’s massive global footprint, the industry leaves much room for improvement. Digitization is just one of the emerging solutions that could alleviate a dated fashion model of large production stocks and endless product racks—contributing to wasted time, energy and resources.
How would you implement digitization in the fashion industry?
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