Technology is transforming the fashion industry

April 12, 2018

Encouraged by the growing interest of industry and students in the combination of digital and physical creation, AMFI and the Lectoraat of Fashion&Technology organised the event “Hybrid Fashion Symposium” on Thursday the 29th March.

Article by Melina Pfaff, first year International Fashion & Management student and Esther Kroes, second year International Fashion & Branding student.

Within the framework of an inspirational and interactive day, the Swedish fashion company Atacac presented their thoughts on new ways to design, sell and produce in order to digitalise the fashion world. Moreover, AMFI students explained their work and experiments with 3D design as well as their opinions on the challenges and possibilities of technical development in the fashion industry. The event offered a lot of space to discuss and exchange ideas and visions with each other, and gave the possibility to participate in workshops about Creative Thinking and Kinetic Garment Construction, led by Jimmy Herdberg and Rickhard Lindqvist, the founders of Atacac.

The fashion world is changing. Technological advances are being pushed to the limit. New developments provoke to think outside the box in order to come up with new solutions. The company Atacac is exploring the borderline between the virtual and the physical garment.

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Jimmy Herdberg’s background as a digital creative combined with Rickhard Lindqvist’s development of Kinetic Garment Construction, an alternative model to the static pattern making matrix, offers to explore new possibilities in the field of fashion and technology. They see their company as an ongoing fashion experiment – a laboratory to provide research free for everyone to benefit from it.

With the help of their software programme CLO, they are able to virtually shift designs, including their physical properties of fabric, to our screens in three-dimensional appearance. When Rickhard Lindqvist and Jimmy Herdberg founded Atacac, they aimed to make the digital world more attractive. Following they came up with new ways to display garments online. By adding movement and music to the avatars, which show their clothing online, they succeeded in presenting the digital fashion world in a very innovative and creative way. Besides their ideas on presenting garments, they also came up with completely new ways on how to produce, price and sell items.

Atacac presents a specific business model, including local manufacturing with short production cycles and on demand production. By offering the possibility to pre-order items on their website for a cheaper price, they can limit overproduction and stock keeping and thereby enable transparency and sustainability.

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The Amfi students Marlies Reukers, Kim Schoenmakers, Marjolijn Ebbers and Franziska Hilbert are also experimenting with the possibilities of 3D experiences. Marlies explained how she discovered a new way of working during the Hypercraft/VR-Experience minor and how technology enables to experiment with the ways of presenting garments. Kim focused on the response of consumers on the integration of the digital experiences in physical stores. Marjolijn talked about her work in the field of product development in 3D sampling, where she specialised in knitwear, whilst Franziska researches the impact and implementation of 3D body scanning within the fashion industry.

They all see huge possibilities of improvement and development of the future fashion world.

3D technologies come with a lot of benefits, such as production savings regarding time as well as textile waste and pollution. Nevertheless, there are some questions remaining. Is the customer ready for the new virtual shopping experience? Which kinds of opportunities do come with it, especially regarding career and education? And how does technology challenge the existing structures of the fashion industry?

The Atacac founders see it as the biggest challenge for online stores to increase online sales and at the same time decrease returns. The students explained that garments often do not look the same in real-life as they are presented online. Moreover every garment looks different on everyone and the fit can turn out differently than expected. This is the reason why Atacac is currently working on ideas how they can offer customers to try on garments virtually when shopping online.

Furthermore, the students talked about the customer’s experience when shopping online and the role of the brick-and-mortar stores in the future. They observed the current development of people being more and more online than ever before. Following they see the importance for a company to sell where the people are – online. The Atacac founders aim to create a better experience virtually than physically, because they claim that people nowadays are getting less interested in material things in general. People are more into technology – fashion will become technology.

Even though online shopping is really convenient and technical developments constantly improve the online shopping experience, Kim mentioned that face-to-face retail still has the advantage of the tactile experience and the physical relationship between product and consumer. In this regard brick-and-mortar stores might get the function of a museum.

All present AMFI students talked about the endless possibilities which their creative work offered – a new career perspective as well as the freedom of developing their interest and strengthen their identity. They feel the urge to set out their path on their own whilst exploring the hybrid world of technology and fashion. According to them, the role as a professional in the future of fashion can completely depend on who you are as an individual, your working process, your experiments and ideas. Technology, AR as well as VR experiences, will have huge impact on future developments. The students suggest being open-minded and teaming up with people from all specialties in order to grow and develop within the industry.

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During the afternoon of the event, the Atacac founders invited to take part in two workshops – one on Creative thinking and one on Kinetic garment construction. The Creativity workshop led by Jimmy Herdberg concentrated on creative problem solving using the ‘Six Hat Method’. The method helps to look at problems from all points of view – Information, Optimism, Judgement, Feelings, Creativity, Thinking. This practice forced everyone to move outside their habitual thinking style and helped to learn new ways of opening the mind to new solutions. Additionally the workshop participants discussed new ways to experience virtuality combined with reality and talked about ideas, such as touching fabric with your eyes.

The other workshop led by Rickhard Lindqvist focussed on his innovation of Kinetic garment construction, an alternative pattern cutting method using as its point of origin the actual body instead of a static matrix. Within this workshop, participants draped one rectangular piece of fabric and worked with the variable body as well as the direction of the skin to create garments. They combined movements and breaking points of the body in order to create patterns based on how the body works. During discussions, the students agreed, that this way of pattern making should be introduced in the early stages of design degrees as an alternative to traditional pattern cutting and that designers, pattern cutters and developer will have to come together and collaborate into more technical directions.

During the Hybrid Fashion Symposium event, Atacac provided us with a glimpse of advanced technical developments, which have huge potential to be evolved in the future. AMFI students demonstrated what kind of impressive projects may emerge when the creative side as well as the technical and commercial one come together. On demand production and Virtual and Augmented Reality promise a more innovative and more sustainable world. Atacac has great plans for the future of fashion technology and aspires to further develop the physical as well as the virtual combination of product and experience. In fact, the increasingly personal nature of online shopping is going to create a new challenge for retailers – and a new opportunity.

We will open our eyes for new ideas and diversity. Technology is transforming the fashion industry.