A look at the evolution of the fashion industry and where technology is taking it next, from AR/VR dressing rooms to temperature-changing fabrics and beyond.
Fashion has always been a hotbed for innovation — from the invention of the sewing machine to the rise of e-commerce. Like tech, fashion is forward-looking and cyclical.
It’s also a huge industry. The ~$2.4T fashion sector is one of the largest industries in the global economy.
And today, tech is transforming fashion at a faster pace than ever.
From robots that sew and cut fabric, to AI algorithms that predict style trends, to VR mirrors in dressing rooms, technology is automating, personalizing, and speeding up every aspect of fashion.
NEW ROBOT DESIGNS FOR THE MANUFACTURING FLOOR
As with every other industry, automation and robotics are also coming for fashion manufacturing. They’re already in the warehouse: many brands use automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) for stocking and transporting inventory.
Using robots in garment manufacturing, however, has been more challenging.
Robo-cutting fabrics has been possible for years, but sewing presents a challenge, as hard robots have difficulty working with pliable, elastic fabrics.
Advances in soft robotics will infiltrate garment-making in the future. In the meantime, startups are combining hardware and software to create automated sewing systems.
SoftWear Automation, for example, is developing “Sewbots” equipped with robotic arms, vacuum grippers, and specialized “micromanipulators” that can guide a piece of cloth through a sewing machine with submillimeter precision.
The Sewbots use specialized cameras and computer vision software to track individual threads at 1,000 frames per second. (In one contract, the startup brought a supplier’s T-shirt manufacturing costs down to just $0.33 a shirt.)
Read the full report here.