The digital textile industry: a better fit, less waste

According to the German Trade Association, the HDE, online trade in Germany has grown to approx. 53.5 bn Euros. Half of this turnover is due to fashion ordered online. However, actually finding a garment of the right size and shape on the internet is often a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Customers try and overcome the problem by ordering the desired garment in several sizes and different cuts. Any garments that do not fit are simply returned postage-free. This may be practical, but it is not exactly environment-friendly.

The British company Metail would like to change this state of affairs. With MeModel, it offers online customers the opportunity of creating a personal digital model by entering their height, weight, chest-measurement or bra-size. According to Metail, an avatar generated using this data manages to recreate your actual physique with to an accuracy of 96 %. The software embedded in the algorithm then calculates waist and hip measurements, and recommends garments according to fit and size, which you can then look at on your own avatar. Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to create a digital model that looks exactly like the user. But at least the hair colour can be altered and a model depicted with open or pinned up hair.

As well as avoiding returns, Metail also promises brands and retailers analyses that can improve inventory efficiencies on the basis of customer data. Evaluating preferences also helps increase brand loyalty, because the more a supplier knows about its customers, the better it can serve their needs. Another service offered by the company is the digitalization of clothes and collections – a cost-intensive factor in a fast-moving industry like the textile industry. For this purpose, Metail has developed a digital method for accelerating and simplifying processes that also cuts expense. By composing, it is possible to combine clothes with digitized bodies at the design stage, i.e. before the garment has even been produced, saving time and expense.

Metail’s fitting service is also helpful in the B2B sector and could, for example, help in determining the best fits for promotional and workwear. Fitting is also a topic on the PromoTex lecture programme. Engineer Prof. Thomas Schneider will be holding a lecture at Forum13 on 9th January 2020 entitled “Promotional wear transports the image of a brand and ensures it is recognized. But it doesn’t matter how good it looks if the garments are uncomfortable and the quality not right.”

The Japanese research group Signflux is using digital technology in quite a different context. Here, experts are working together with fashion designers, engineers, architects, researchers and scientists to develop new sustainable paradigms for the textile industry. Signflux is particularly focussing on fashion patterns and, with the aid of artificial intelligence, has managed to create tailor-made clothing without generating any waste. Cutting patterns that follow the curved shapes based on the human form and which are cut from a rectangle waste approx. 15% of fabric. Signflux achieves a 0% wastage with its zero waste technology that is based on historical Japanese pattern cutting techniques and generated by an algorithm. The group’s video channel demonstrates just how it works. The project was awarded the Wired Creative Hack Award in 2018.

Photo: Rose box on unsplash