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How to maintain fashion sustainability under the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Digital Transformation with Fashion Technologies

· Insights,Sustainable Fashion,Sustainability

According to the BOF/McKinsey State of Fashion 2020 report, "Sustainability will be both the single biggest challenge and the single biggest opportunity for the industry in 2020." Under the current situation, we could predict that sustainability will be definitely much more challenging than the previous years.

Fashion Sustainability in The State of Fashion 2020

Fashion is one of the most significant pollutants on the planet. The Ellen McArthur Foundation states that a rubbish trucks worth of clothes is dumped in landfill or burned every second. By washing clothes, we release half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres into the sea every year - the equivalent of more than 50 million plastic bottles. Then there is the problem of the harmful chemicals used to make fabrics like viscose. It's made from wood pulp which needs to be chemically broken down before being made into fibre. Add in the hundreds of gallons of water required to make just a single t-shirt, the dye that goes into rivers from clothing manufacture and the synthetic fibres which take between 20-200 years to decompose.

 

There's no doubt that there is a problem. The public's response has been to demand changes. September's Global Climate Strike, inspired by Greta Thunberg, had 7.6 million participants. There have been environmental protests at London Fashion Week. The passion is reflected in purchasing: 66% of respondents to a McKinsey US cohort survey (75 % of millennial respondents) say they consider sustainability when making a luxury purchase.

How Have Companies Responded?

Companies have considered many ways to meet this. Fabrics have become organic or more environmentally friendly. Closed-loop processes have been put in place so that while chemicals are still used for viscose-making, they are at least recaptured and reused, so they don't leak into waterways. New fabrics are being invented, which biodegrade far more quickly. The rental and resale markets are exploding as customers decide to make the most of the clothes which already exist. They can either hire something and send it back, ready to be worn by someone else, or sell their unwanted clothes for someone else to enjoy. This is far better than the clothes going to the landfill.

Another solution is to own clothes which are loved so much that people will never want to get rid of them. As we all know, this is a near-impossible quest. Maybe a customer sees a dress in a shop in a colour they like, but the neckline isn't flattering. Generally, they buy it anyway because it's close enough to what they want. But then when they get it home, they find they don't wear it. Or they see something online that looks great on the model, but when it arrives, it doesn't fit. The same thing happens. They want to like it, but barely wear it in the end.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are forced to seek different solutions that could help. However, we believe these solutions could not leave sustainability out.

A Whole World of New solutions

– Digital Transformation with Fashion Technologies

The answer could be in fashion technology and digital transformation. Companies like ours, TG3D Studio, can scan the human body using an unique 3D body scanner that easily blended into a fitting room. With millions of 3D points scanned, the contours of each person are mapped incredibly accurately. The data is then output into a very intuitive, user-friendly form: accurate body measurements with a digital 3D copy of the body. We can digitally recreate fabrics and model them into accurate copies of 3D garments, with the same draping and dimensions as the original. We have also invented a new process: "Virtual Try On" means customers can attire their mini-me in the latest fashions. Just with one scan, it allows the customers to confidently shop online and find their desired garments with perfect fit.

However, this is no dress-up game, although it can be just as fun as a real-life shopping session. Replacing physical clothes with digital ones has many distinct advantages.

When clothing fits well customers are more likely to keep an item and wear it again and again, rather than it going unworn because it doesn't look right. They are then less likely to buy more clothing to try and find the perfect fit. When shoppers are happier in their choices, it cuts down the amount of clothing going to landfill.

There are several ways that digital clothing can help with this.

Improving the Fit – reduce return rates and carbon footprints

The standard measurement chart used for creating patterns is outdated and based on unrealistic body shapes. We collated the measurements from our body scans. This anonymous data provides a clear and accurate picture of the real shapes and sizes of people today. Manufacturers can use this information to create better fitting clothing for their target customer

3D digital body avatar

To see if clothing is the right match for them, customers can use Virtual Try On to try clothes on digitally. Both their bodies and the clothing are reproduced exceptionally accurately. This means that they can see whether they are too short, too tight, too big or just right. Customers are then able to avoid buying clothes online which don't fit. This helps to reduce customers’ return rates and the overall carbon footprint since there are less shipping and packaging process.

Industry 4.0: On-demand Service – reduce over-production and over-stock

With digital clothing, retailers can offer variations of designs which are then created on demand. They can choose that dress in the colour that they liked, and try different necklines until they find precisely the right one. It can then be made to order. An on-demand service greatly minimizes waste. Clothing is not produced in the quantity the manufacturer predicts will sell, with a few extra just in case, but in precisely the amounts needed. No more over-production and over-stock problems.

3D digital clothing

Digital Samples – reduce material and resource wastes

Digital garments also make sampling infinitely quicker. Going through the process of getting a garment cut and sewn, then alterations made, then repeated until the clothing is correct is time-consuming and wasteful. A digital garment can be altered as many times as required with the click of a button. Different fabric combinations can be tried against each other, as well as different accents and details. Based on the data provided by our partner “Prosoft VR”, 24000 meters of fabric, 12000 euros of energy, 2400 tons of water and 4800 kg of carbon pollution are used before. However, fabric, energy cost, water and carbon pollution are reduced 80% after adopting digital transformation. With the help of digital garments, they also don't need to travel to showrooms physically as a virtual catwalk and showroom are just as effective.

Fashion sustainability with digital tools
Fashion sustainability with digital tools

Fashion is a creative outlet, as well as an economic force, which none of us wants to see disappear despite our worries about the environment. Using digitization tools, we can minimize the waste involved and return to focusing on designing and creating beautiful clothes.

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