Technology has made leaps and bounds in addressing the issue of mass consumption occurring in today’s fashion world. It has created ways to manufacture and design clothing with minimum to zero excess waste, and it also has the ability to create zero waste product with biodegradable elements.
Betabrand, a fashion company, experimented with its consumers by posting a digital image of a 3-D shoe rendering on its website along with a poll for consumers to take in order for the brand to understand what consumers want and would buy. The 3-D shoe allowed consumers to see how the shoe was made and essentially all details that a consumer would otherwise be able to see from a real product - except, the company didn't need to create any real product just yet. If the polls showed consumers would purchase, then the brand could begin manufacturing based on that demand. Had the shoe, or a prototype of the shoe, been made before consumers could see it, it could have taken the brand upwards of 10-12 months to pass before a shoe was even marketed, and by then, such a trend could be gone (and lots of excess inventory unmarketable).
“Retailers and brands who are embracing this are going to be winners of the future... [it is] flipping the business model on its head.” - David Bassuk
3-D printing is in its early stages of understanding what we can really do with it, but it’s inherent operation eliminates waste that the fashion industry experiences every day. “Items are created one layer at a time with extreme specificity. . . [f]abric for clothing doesn’t need to be rolled out by the meter, then cut and stitched, instead it’s printed and ready to wear.” Gone is that 15-20% of unused excess fabric that would have been headed for landfill. 3-D printers also play a role in the future of biodegradable fibers used on clothing. Poly Lactic Acid (“PLA”) is made from cornstarch and sugarcane, both organic materials. PLA can be used by 3-D printers, giving products a “really nice, easy to use safe material.” Moreover, “PLA is also reusable; it can be melted down and recycled as the user sees fits.” Even more convincing than that and what separates this material from traditional recycling, is that this material is endlessly renewable, “with the potential to eventually negate the endless demand for ecologically damaging textile production.” Even better, 3-D powering plastic can be made in-house with an empty shampoo bottle or milk jug, and the fibers won’t break down and retain their value.
So much to cover on fashion tech... stay tuned for more thoughts into specific fashion tech brands that I admire.