How technology is reshaping the fashion industry
Written by: India Ambrose
In the age of technology, there are consistent and rapid changes to the quality of life of humans and how we operate. When thinking of technology, fashion and clothing may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Still, The fashion world has always been at the helm of technological advancements, creating new ways to experience clothing. Beginning with the revolutionary invention of the sewing machine to create more garments faster, the fashion world continues to develop game changing technology on a regular basis.
Central Michigan University is just one example of a place that is a secret hub for fashion technological advancements. The Center for Merchandising and Design Technologies is nestled in the Central Michigan Engineering Technology Building. Though small, big changes and revolutionary work happens there.
Headed by Susanne Wrobleski, the center is home to sweating robots and testing chambers. The Sweating Thermal Manikin is used to test clothing items to see how they stand up to a sweating body. The tests help to see wet and dry heat loss for both men and women subjects.
The Thermotron Environmental Systems Walk-in Room Model Environmental Chamber is used to test weather conditions on garments to see how they withstand extreme temperatures and elements. There is also a Human Solutions VITUS XXL/smart 3D body scanner that is used to collect data from 300,000 points on a body to see the exact measurements of a body.
These technologies help designers create garments for customers that specifically fit their needs. Other resources that CMU fashion merchandising and design students have access to is the CAD lab. This lab houses industry standardized softwares used to create technical drawings and patterns for garments.
Students can also use different textile testing technologies to make sure different fabrics fit standards. There is even an environmental chamber that is used to test fabrics and fibers in a standardized setting. CMU also offers 3D printing technologies that students can use to print shoes and jewelry.
Though CMU students have access to these technologies, there are far more industry-wide tech advancements.
Artificial intelligence is lending its talents to the fashion world by way of programs and initiatives. Stitch Fix is an AI driven program used to identify trends and suggest new designs, according to CBinsights.
Shoppers are also looking for slow fashion and sustainable options in the industry. AI technologies are lending their talents to help push for more sustainability in the industry. With AI data, customers behavior can be matched to reduce the amount of clothing returns. Even the new sustainable fabrics are technologically advanced. For example, recycled water bottles are being used in Adidas shoes. There are also textile tests being done to see if there can be self cleaning fabrics, which would eliminate water waste and save energy.
Robotics is also a heavy part of the fashion industry today. Whether it is the use of robots to create and sew garments or used to stock inventory, it is another way to ease the labor and make things quicker in a garment- hungry world. People want more and more and robots can be used to feed that demand.
The fashion industry is bursting with technological advancements, yet there is always room for improvements. Some luxury brands are even looking into digital clothing, according to Vogue Business. This lends itself to better brand equity and sustainability while catering to Instagram culture.
Live video shopping and augmented reality will be boosted by the introduction of 5G. Social media and the internet are platforms that will further the use of AR and create better shopping experiences for consumers.
Retailers can also use in-store kiosks to provide customers with details about the garments they are buying. There are even mirrors in dressing rooms that allow consumers to virtually try on garments without the hassle of getting undressed.
The most important thing about the future of technology is the transparency that brands will have to show the consumer what they are doing and where their products are from. People want to know where their fabrics are sourced and who made the garments, and this goes hand in hand with the future of sustainability in the fashion world.
The fashion world is ever changing in terms of the technologies used and how consumers interact with these brands. Students on CMU’s campus have access to some of these technologies that are improving the industry. There are so many more advancements that the fashion world can look forward to in the upcoming future that will help better shape the experiences of consumers and producers alike.