Information Technology in the Fashion Industry

Why sophisticating the fashion and apparel industry? Well, this is the question every individual involved in the fashion business must think about. In this article, you would know how Information Technology in the fashion industry has become the gem today.

Do you know the gigantic fashion and apparel industry produces 110 million tons of fabric and 150 billion garments every year?The mass production of such volume create excessive textile waste, lots of apparel ends in landfill and harms both factory workers and the environment.

Around 57% of discarded clothes is sent to landfill each year. Above this, the fashion industry is responsible for up to 10% of global CO2 emissions, 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater, 24% of insecticides, and 11% of pesticides used.

This means that the apparel industry has the great potential to reduce the burden of waste which will increase profitability and reduce cost. Moreover, nothing other than the earth would be thankful for this industry. Below is the list of the latest Information Technologies that are revolutionizing the fashion industry.  


1. Artificial Intelligence

In past, where mathematics, skills and experiences were being used to analyse data and make decisions; today data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is being used to make most accurate and efficient decisions. Whether it be process improvement or forecasting and planning sales Artificial Intelligence is key technology for success today.

To understand, Data analytics is a process by which we extract business-relevant information from your data to support your decision-making. The availability of data provides various opportunities to use more data in the context of machine learning.

As data is collected from multiple sources, AI provides ample opportunities to understand the behaviour of many people covered through different data sets. This provides brands with a strong tool that helps them forecast and predicts aspects of consumption and trends of behavior. Luxury brands are using AI to gain high-quality information on their customers, which potentially helps them create personalized products and customize their offerings online.

Data could also be a reference to business decisions or even design decisions so then applying data analytics to the fashion world so it’s important to know that the fashion industry has evolved from this one-size-fits-all model and structure and now it’s all about the customer. AI is being used by various fashion designers, not only in trend forecasting but in producing collections embedded in cognitive technologies.

Types of Artificial Intelligence:

  1. Computer Vision:- Computer vision is the field of computer science that focuses on replicating parts of the complexity of the human vision system and enabling computers to identify and process objects in images and videos in the same way that humans do. Until recently, computer vision only worked in a limited capacity. Computer vision also plays an important role in augmented and mixed reality, the technology that enables computing devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart glasses to overlay and embed virtual objects on real-world imagery. Using computer vision, AR gear detect objects in the real-world in order to determine the locations on a device’s display to place a virtual object.
  1. NLP Sentiments analysis:- Sentiment Analysis (also known as opinion mining or emotion AI) is a sub-field of NLP that tries to identify and extract opinions within a given text across blogs, reviews, social media, forums, news etc. NLP system analysis is used in customer review analysis, sentiment analysis from social media. This method can be used to do comparative analysis of two brands based on customers’ sentiments. 
  2. Recommender system:- A recommender system, or a recommendation system, is a subclass of information filtering system that seeks to predict the “rating” or “preference” a user would give to an item. Many eCommerce companies are already using this tool of Information Technology in the fashion industry.


2. Big Data

Big data deal with data sets that are too large or complex to be dealt with by traditional data-processing application software. Data is analyzed and information is extracted systematically. Big data can take AI to the next level, providing the latter with powerful tools to analyse large sums of data on the prescriptive and predictive sides of forecasting and analysis.

The availability of data provides various opportunities to use more data in the context of machine learning. Big data can take AI to the next level, providing the latter with powerful tools to analyse large sums of data on the prescriptive and predictive sides of forecasting and analysis.

To keep up with the demands of the ‘fast fashion changes’ and to reduce the ‘turnaround time’ from ramp to stores, fashion retailers are increasingly turning to ‘big data’. Many leaders in the fashion industry are now using big data to solve the problem of counterfeit merchandise.

Companies are now using pattern recognition coupled with big data to protect the integrity of their company. For example, a designer can create a new design and can use pattern recognition to find if something of a similar nature has ever been created. Cognitive Prints, a suite of AI tools can be used for pattern recognition where it will scan through huge amounts of data looking for similarities.


3. Blockchain

Did you ever come across duplicate branded products in the market, probably yes? People from fashion world know how much it goes behind the scene before product is launched into the market. Fashion designs, range, fashion shows, product development, production, logistics, merchandise planning and distribution and many more activities at micro level are involved to make final product at store.

The brand is not just about name or logo. It involves marketing research, designs as per current fashion trends, quality standards, standardized process, compliance, supply chain, retailing and many more. Above all this it is a vulnerable business where nobody could predict accurately for sales and people’s choice. Apparel and fashion brands face so many issues to manage a brand.

Unfortunately, many small companies survive today because of imitation or surplus business. Blockchain technology is a concept where manufacturers and designers can protect their brands against counterfeiting.

For each fashion item, its origin and ownership can be tracked all the way up to its manufacturer. Each step in the manufacturing process from source of raw materials to finished product with time and location stamps get recorded.

The purpose is that through the identification code product can be traced where it was manufactured so that the original product is identified by brand owners or retailer or customers. Blockchain in the fashion and apparel industry can help in protecting intellectual property rights that brand owns and identifying duplicate products in the market.

When we look at the fashion and luxury industry it is one of the biggest industries where retailers and manufacturers are almost every corner of the globe. It is a big challenge for whole supply chain to adapt to the complexity and implement this technology.

Today, Amazon has implemented small module of Blockchain which automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions. We need to wait and watch how brand owners and manufacturers adapt and implement this technology.


4. Cryptocurrency

Companies adapting Blockchain are also eyeing Cryptocurrency for their payment systems. With integrated Blockchain system Cryptocurrency would help customers to pay internationally and also companies will be able to make payment to their vendors through this system. Deutsche Bank predicts that the number of cryptocurrency users will grow 4x in the next ten years, reaching 200 million.

The fashion industry takes notice of what is popular and transforms it into the latest trend. Digital currency symbols on fashion items are in trend as more and more people get connected to Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin payment.

Cryptocurrency being used in the fashion industry:

  1. Bitcoin: – Bitcoin is basically a computer file which is stored in a ‘digital wallet’ app on a smartphone or computer. People can send Bitcoins (or part of one) to your digital wallet, and you can send Bitcoins to other people. Every single transaction is recorded in a public list called the blockchain.
  2. USD Coin: – USD Coin (USDC) is a digital stable coin that is pegged to the United States dollar and runs on the Ethereum blockchain. Each USDC is backed by a dollar held in reserve
  3. Litecoin: – Litecoin is a form of digital money that uses a blockchain to maintain a public ledger of all transactions. It is used to transfer funds between individuals or businesses without the need for an intermediary such as a bank or payment processing service.
  4. Dogecoin: – Dogecoin is used to create a peer-to-peer digital currency that could reach a broader demographic than Bitcoin. The purpose of this Crypto method was to distance it from the controversial history of other coins.
  5. Bitcart: – Bitcart is a popular cryptocurrency service that lets you transfer cryptocurrencies into Amazon gift cards or Amazon products. This payment mode using Information Technology in the fashion industry is future technology.
  6. Bitfash: – Bitfash is a startup that serves as an intermediary between retailers and shopper, allowing consumers to spend bitcoins on apparel from premium brands on their web platform, such as Zara and Forever 21.


5. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Online shopping through eCommerce websites or apps has been there for many years. VR and AR is next level that lets brands and retailers experience 3D 360 shopping on their websites, mobile apps and social channels via a 3D Commerce Cloud.

This technology is another big revolution in the fashion industry that enables brands to render real clothing virtually in 3D and also to customize them on digital body models for web, mobile, and AR.

Another feature of Virtual Reality technology is online fashion retailers virtually illustrate the size to find the accurate fit for the products their customers choose. Customers can virtually measure their sizes and decide garments of custom fit.

Other new 3D rendering technologies tool allows brands to edit designs in the moment and instantly review changes. This can help improve the quality of designs by checking the silhouette and fit sooner in the development process. This way minimizes waste and reduces error in the sample before finalization.

Louis Vuitton designed “skins” for League of Legends characters. Another one is Ralph Lauren’s recent collaboration with Bitmoji where customers can create their own Bitmoji look with the new mix-and-match wardrobe from Polo Ralph Lauren.


6. Internet of Things

Internet of things technology allows products to get connected to a network through Bluetooth or other wireless connections. This technology uses network to collect required data, do data analytics and make decisions through Artificial Intelligence.

The Internet of Things (IoT) enables data sharing, inventory management, security, and increased efficiency and productivity. Many businesses consider IoT in improving their customer experience. Depending on customer’s movement in the store suggestion of products and offers can be shared to the customer.

Another application of this technology is products are displayed with digital price tag and based on the situation the price is updated dynamically. Brand owners or retailers can achieve high profitability and sales using this technology.


7. Sutainability

Today fashion and luxury brands are adapting sustainability to avoid waste and hazards to the environment. In fast fashion, designs move quickly from runway to store shelves. Fast fashion giants can produce as many as 52 micro collections per year. To keep to the rapid consumer demand traditional brands had to keep up and release up to 11 collections per year.

On the contrary, in the past fashion has officially been broken up into seasons. Designers released spring/summer and fall/winter lines, as well as pre-fall and pre-spring runways. A huge number of designs were made and produced. This used to cause uncertainty and waste.

As consumers are conscious toward environment today they are inclined towards ethical and sustainable products over fast fashion products. According to the fashion search engine Lyst there is a 47% increase in shoppers looking for ethical and sustainable products.

As many of the technologies are still under development and in implementation phase we need to wait and watch the future of the fashion and luxury industry. Please do write your opinion and suggestions regarding these technologies in your company or the fashion industry.

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