How tech­nol­ogy and col­lab­o­ra­tion are shak­ing up the fash­ion in­dus­try

Computer Arts - - Contents -

How tech­nol­ogy and col­lab­o­ra­tion are shak­ing up the fash­ion in­dus­try

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­put­ing have al­ready ex­pe­ri­enced trans­for­ma­tive dis­rup­tions. Now it’s the turn of man­u­fac­tur­ing and de­sign to un­dergo a sim­i­larly dra­matic up­heaval, en­abled by tech­nol­ogy and in par­tic­u­lar the democrati­sa­tion of dig­i­tal fab­ri­ca­tion tools.

In fash­ion, where lead times are usu­ally spec­i­fied in months, Un­made’s dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy was cre­ated in re­sponse to its founders’ frus­tra­tion at the in­dus­try’s lethar­gic at­ti­tudes to mass con­sump­tion. While re­search­ing per­for­mance cloth­ing for UK Sport, Ben Alun-Jones and his part­ners, Hal Watts and Kirsty Emery, re­alised the un­tapped po­ten­tial of industrial knit­ting ma­chines. Com­bin­ing their pro­gram­ming and en­gi­neer­ing skills, they de­vel­oped a new way to con­trol them. "Ev­ery­thing is un­made," says Alun-Jones, "un­til the cus­tomer chooses their de­sign, when ma­chines whirr into ac­tion and knit a one-of-akind item for a sim­i­lar cost to mass pro­duc­tion."

Post-Cou­ture Col­lec­tive, founded by Mar­tijn van Strien, is a brand that lets cus­tomers de­sign their own cloth­ing to be man­u­fac­tured lo­cally on laser­cut­ters and 3D-prin­ters. Van Strien says that be­cause gar­ments are "de­signed on the spot by our soft­ware" and pro­duced only when they’re sold, his ap­proach avoids cre­at­ing the re­dun­dant 40 per cent of gar­ments that ar­rive at shops only to be dis­carded at the end of each sea­son. In keeping with maker cul­ture, van Strien’s meth­ods democra­tise pro­duc­tion so that all gar­ments can be ‘"pro­duced any­where by any­one."

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