As consumer demand for sustainable apparel, products and services continues to rise, textile technology firms are streamlining digital design processes to increase speed and enable localization for brands and retailers.
And in response to this movement, companies such as Gerber Technology, a hardware and software solution firm headquartered in Tolland, Conn., developed a portfolio of services for environmentally conscious fashion designers and brands.
Bill Grindle, the chief marketing officer at Gerber Technology, told WWD, “Technology can be a key enabler of sustainable practices. Take sample making as one example: The fashion industry spends billions of dollars each year producing and shipping samples all around the world. It’s expensive, slow and not environmentally conscious.”
The firm’s software applications such as YuniquePLM and AccuMark 3D support digitization of design processes and enable virtual sampling, which could make a major impact by cutting sampling in half or more, Grindle said. And, the implementation of textile technologies — namely PLM, CAD and 3-D design software — can be used in tandem with digital integration for automated spreading, cutting and the emerging technologies for robotic sewing, he noted.
This past fall at its Ideation Summit in Los Angeles, Gerber Technology touted a 3-D platform that could accelerate adoption of the technology in the fashion apparel space. Regarding sustainable practices, Grindle sees technology playing a key role.
“With the constantly evolving regulations on chemical usage and labor standards — technology applications like PLM are essential to centralize and manage critical data and provide deeper insight into your supply chain management,” Grindle noted.
And today, sustainability has become a key driver for reaching Millennial and Generation Z shoppers. Millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, according to three-out-of-four respondents surveyed in a Nielsen study. Gen Z respondents also stated that they are willing to pay more for products manufactured by socially or environmentally responsible companies, which rose from 55 percent in 2014 to 72 percent in 2015, Nielsen reported.
Grindle told WWD, “Localization, sourcing and producing goods closer to the point of sale is a key practice of sustainability. To achieve this, the fashion industry must go from physical processes to digital processes, turning data into speed and using technology to automate design, development and production processes.”
Gerber Technology serves more than 78,000 customers worldwide in 130 countries, including more than 100 Fortune 500 companies across the apparel, aerospace, retail, composites, furniture, technical textiles, transportation interiors, sign and graphics and packaging industries. Clients include Nordstrom, Theory, Target Corp., Ralph Lauren, PVH Corp. and Perry Ellis International.
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