Collaboration is the key
Our vision is bold, but also undeniably challenging and we (or any single company) are not going to be able to achieve all of this on our own; at least not in the limited time our industry and planet has to make these systemic changes. This is why we have shared our vision publicly. We believe that only through a coalition of aligned partners and stakeholders from across the industry can we achieve the objectives outlined above. This is also why we have also started this process by helping to form the Virtual Fashion Collective (VFC).
The Virtual Fashion Collective is a group of independent FashionTech companies that have come together with a vision to help the fashion industry unlock the potential of 3D Design and Development. Find out more about the VFC here.
If you like our vision and think you can assist us in realising it, whether you’re an individual, a brand, potential technology or industry partner or investor, please reach out to us below.
McKinsey State of Fashion 2017 report, McKinsey & BoF, in 2016.
Ellen Macarthur Foundation
Materials traced back to source and digitised to facilitate more sustainable design practices.
Material science can facilitate replacements for synthetics and improve the performance characteristics of natural fibres, but all materials will be traced back to source as part of a closed loop supply chain. Components like fabric, yarn and trims will be digitised to facilitate product development without the current cost and wastage of traditional sample production.
MATERIAL TRACING & DIGITISATION
Collections released to brand's community for digital sale and physical pre-order
Brands are provided a new sustainable revenue centre through digital sales and can offer their physical collection for sale without having to pre-order inventory with high MOQs that may not be sold and end up in landfill or destroyed.
For digital sales customers can dress their avatars with their digital garment purchases in gaming and metaverse environments, or with our Compass online fitting solution they can "wear" their digital garments through AR for content creation and virtual fitting. They can also provide their bod-e-map (fit related body measurements) with their pre-order for M2M production of physical garments.
Returns of physical garments are significantly reduced and customers have a much more sustainable alternative to fast fashion for content creation.
M2M Pre-orders sent to the closest micro-factory to the customer's location for production and delivery.
Through the manufacture of fashion items as close as possible to the end consumer waste and transport costs are significantly reduced.
A Digital ID attached to each individual product provides customers a repository of information on their purchase replacing labelling and helps guide the customer to manage its entire post purchase lifecycle in a circular manner.
Textile use can be reduced through the replacement of garment labels with a digital ID that can not only store care instructions and content information but also provide supply chain transparency. In addition the digital ID can direct customers to repair, resale and recycling partners to help maintain an item's useful life for as long as possible and ensure it is disposed of in a sustainable way at end of life.
Collections developed and managed in Quadrant and produced as 3D digital assets for both development sign off, marketing assets and for digital sale.
The time, cost and waste of physical sampling is removed along with costly processes like product photography all while generating assets that can provide a more immersive online sales experience and be offered for sale in their own right.
Our vision for a new fashion future
Fashion is one of the biggest industries in the world. “If it were ranked alongside individual countries’ GDP the global fashion industry would represent the seventh-largest economy’’. 1 The 2023 forecast of the worldwide apparel and footwear market’s retail value is just under 2 trillion dollars. 2
Yet, around 30 percent of all clothes made around the world are never sold, according to the Australian Circular Textile Association (ACTA). As a result, every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truck (2625kg) load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill, roughly enough to fill Sydney Harbour each year. 3
Despite all this revenue the global fashion industry is not commercially viable under its current business model of overproduction. We have just passed the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where 1100 garment workers were killed and 2500 were injured when the building they were working in, making garments for well known western brands, collapsed. It is estimated that as little as 2% of garment workers earn a living wage 4, yet of 350 public fashion companies tracked by McKinsey in their State of Fashion - 2022 Report only 31% were profitable in 2020. A trend that has steadily worsened since 2011 when 72% of the same group of companies were profitable. 5
"every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truck (2625kg) load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill, roughly enough to fill Sydney Harbour each year."
Charting a better future
We need to find creative solutions to disrupt the model of gross overproduction and allow fashion brands the means to create less physical products and still be commercially successful. Also we need to fulfil the needs, particularly of younger generations like Gen Z, that fast fashion currently provides, such as an affordable means of self expression and personal identity, without the waste and environmental damage.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways technology can help facilitate the kinds of change needed to solve the apparent paradox of providing the fashion industry the means to become more commercially viable while reducing the amounts of physical products it makes;
For circular fashion design and development to be adopted across the industry the tools that can help facilitate circular processes need to be accessible to brands of all sizes, not just at the enterprise level. The reality today is that most of the industry still relies on spreadsheets to manage their collection development, borne more from lack of viable alternatives than choice. As the requirement for greater transparency and timely reporting increases in line with the growing tide of ESG legislation around the world, this approach will have to change. This is why we created Quadrant. Our PLM solution reimagined for a circular future.
Quadrant was designed to both make traditional fashion development more efficient and transparent and to facilitate more sustainable development practices such as digital (3D) sampling, in a way that reduces the cost and business transformation required to implement this process. Reducing and ultimately removing physical samples from both the development and the wholesale sales process will save brands significant time and money along with greatly reducing textile waste, water consumption and CO2 emissions; all for apparel that was never designed to be sold to customers.
Digitise and democratise circular fashion development
Fix the returns issue and create new sustainable revenue streams
The creation of 3D assets during collection development will open up new opportunities for brands to dramatically reduce online returns and create new sustainable revenue streams.
3D assets in combination with online fitting technology, such as our Compass solution, promises the tipping point for true ‘virtual try on’ solutions that can significantly reduce the issue of online returns; an industry wide issue where 30% or more of online sales are returned to the seller, often at their own expense. Estimates suggest that the cost of returns can be ⅔ of the price of a product 9 and often returned items will end up in landfill or incinerated.
In addition, selling digital only versions of a garment that a can be “worn digitally” is a growing market in response to the trend of users purchasing clothing solely for purpose of social media content creation. (A barclaycard survey in the UK revealed that 9% of those surveyed bought clothing solely for the purpose of content creation (instagram posts etc) and then returned them).
High quality digital clothing sold In gaming platforms including Roblox and Ready Player Me also present new sales opportunity's for brands without the need for physical production.
Lead the transition to on-demand production and circular supply chains
On-Demand micro factories offer a solution to the wasteful model of overproduction and discounting. Because of their high level of automation they provide a means to re-shore manufacturing to consumer economies. This combined with their small size, which enables an ability to be highly distributed close to end users, greatly reduces transport costs. Finally, only producing apparel on demand mitigates the 30% of clothing currently produced each year that never get's sold.
For fashion to become truly sustainable and circular the entire value chain from raw fibre to end of life recycling needs to be both transparent and connected. Closed loop supply chains (one where all stakeholders have transparency) powered by Digital ID's can help make this a reality. A digital ID not only provides the means to store and then display the provenance of each and every product to a purchaser back to raw fibre, but to facilitate product stewardship schemes that can link purchasers to resale, repair and recycle partners. They can even incentivise brands to make their products more durable by facilitating their ability to automatically take a cut of each resale transaction via smart contracts.