We believe that the industry needs an all-out, all-forces-joined drive for digitization. Digitization works as a double-edged sword. It technically enables the supply chain to become more responsive. But it also forces processes to change. It both forces and enables buyers and suppliers to engage in more collaborative relationships. Through digitization, processes become more integrated within the supply chain, even extending to third tier suppliers supplying fabrics. When suppliers are more integrated into a complex but more profitable collaborative supply chain, the relationships with suppliers also become more difficult to untangle, strengthening the position of suppliers.

Because of this complexity digitizing the industry relies on education and training. It is not just about learning to use the software, it is about learning entirely new processes and interactions within companies and between companies. So digitization will be the main topic of IAF’s work on education and training as described above. Another important pillar of the drive for digitization is standardization, particularly of the processes to create the authentic digital twin of fabrics and of garments. Here, IAF has started to work with some of its members to bring more coordination to the efforts already underway and to determine on an industry wide scale where gaps still remain.

Digital Fabric Roadmap (DFR)

IAF, Dutch fashion and textiles association MODINT and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI), powered by ClickNL, have drafted the ‘Digital Fabric Roadmap’ (DFR). All three organisations are fully aware that 3D virtual visualisation of garments is one of the prime challenges, and also one of the prime opportunities for the fashion and textile industries. 3D virtual visualisation or creating a true to life virtual garment sample or digital twin requires the fabric used in the sample to look, behave and drape exactly the same as the physical sample. But when it comes to materials simulation based on physical and mechanical properties, the industry is still underdeveloped. There is lack of experience, but also a lack of standardization of gathering and communicating the data on which the digital twins are based. Standardisation efforts have certainly commenced, led by large brands and retailers and the major technology suppliers. But the ‘rest of industry’ as represented by industry associations across the world is insufficiently connected to these efforts.

The Digital Fabric Roadmap aims to act as a catalyst for a global and industry-wide collaboration on this topic. Proposed actions in this roadmap range from stimulating companies to simply get to work and start digitizing their fabric and garment samples to specific calls for further standardization of measurements and communication. Aided by the Digital Fabric Roadmap the IAF and MODINT are taking a leading role in our industry’s drive to accelerate the implementation of 3D virtual visualization.

On Thursday April 22, Matthijs Crietee took part in Talking Threads, the Textile Innovation Show by WTiN, where he explored the road map to the digital future in the apparel market. Please watch the full episode below.