The sustainability of fashion is a constant top issue. While it can sometimes seem futile in the face of ever increasing fashion consumption, there are glimmers of sustainability change. In this article, we’ll take a look at some technological advances seeking to limit the environmental damage of fashion, increasing sustainability while maintaining profitable businesses for fashion brands. This includes the use of data science in apparel production, 3D design and technology to support supply chain transparency and compliance.
3D Printing Will Eliminate Waste
Waste is a major issue in fashion production, and a top contributor to eco-damage. Put simply, brands are using resources to create clothes that ultimately end up in landfill due to overproduction. As it stands, this waste is built into the fashion supply chain by brands. This has huge environmental impacts; wasting fabric, using unnecessary labour and wasting natural resources such as cotton and water. 3D printing is set to change this; developing fashion designs that are printed specifically, one layer at a time. This specificity has to potential to completely eliminate waste from the fashion production chain, making it a genuinely sustainable alternative.
Using data science to support sustainability
Fashion companies typically seek to overproduce their garments rather than risk damaging their brand reputation by disappointing customers; with corresponding shocking environmental impacts. But, advances in smart technology and artificial intelligence are offering manufacturers and fashion brands ways to better forecast; using collection, analysis and data science to produce garments that meet actual, genuine demand. This insight has the power to transform consumption forecasting, allowing raw materials and production impacts to be planned much more effectively. This smarter approach has spilled into eCommerce too, with fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren beginning to harness the power of data science.
‘On demand’ technology will reduce over-production
Smarter, reduced-scale production has the power to produce more sustainable levels of fashion apparel. The power of AI and data science is giving fashion brands the ability to produce clothes faster, on a smaller and more economical scale. Most commonly used in supermarkets and retailers of fresh foods, this ‘just in time’ model can help balance the supply and demand of clothes for retailers; reducing the potential of overstocking while being able to quickly meet customer demand. This benefits retailers bottom line, but also increases fashion sustainability by only using resources within the global supply chain when necessary. Technology capabilities are giving fashion brands the confidence their customer needs can be met easily and more sustainably.
Technology will support supply chain transparency
While sustainability is becoming more prevalent in consumer conscience, customers still find sustainable clothing hard to source. Using technology, or QR codes to be precise, can transform this. QR codes used in innovative supply chain systems such as Bomler will provide consumers with key and relevant information on each garment. This includes valuable data on materials, manufacturers involved and the social and environmental impact of every garment. Providing this information can drive true and lasting consumer behaviour change, providing customers with lasting information to make the best and most sustainable choice. It’s this behaviour change that will ultimately create genuinely sustainable fashion.
To wrap up
The drive for environmental sustainability in fashion, both from consumers and environmental necessity is forcing fashion brands and manufacturers to adopt new technologies to be sustainable as well as compliant with legislation. The use of data science, 3D printing and on-demand technology are all creating more sustainable, demand driven production. The result? More efficient production for manufacturers; increased sustainability and a genuine opportunity to drive customer behaviour for lasting impact.
Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy operating worldwide. We’re currently working with clients to find the best sustainable solutions in the textile industry. Contact us to find out how we can advise your business on sustainable textile solutions.