Marci Zaroff «Reducing Fashion’s Climate Impact: How Technology Can Cut Waste, Water, and Chemicals»
As the world population continues to grow, so does the demand for clothing. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is known for its negative impact on the environment. The industry is responsible for significant amounts of waste, water usage, and chemical pollution. However, technology is offering solutions to these problems and creating opportunities for more sustainable fashion practices.
Sustainability is becoming a significant lever in technology as it is now focused on reducing environmental impact. Many new technologies are being developed with the aim of making supply chains more efficient, while minimizing waste and reducing environmental impact.
Technology for the Win
For instance, Kornit, an on-demand printing company, promotes sustainable manufacturing by transitioning the industry towards on-demand production. This allows them to fulfill demand as and when it arises, which enables them to provide consumers and brands with greater customization, innovation, and supply chain efficiency. By adopting this approach, they never miss out on emerging trends or must resort to marking down or discarding excess inventory.
3D sampling and circular technologies are being used to reduce waste as well. Various companies like Renew, Clo, SEDDI, and Style 3D are using 3D sampling and fitting technologies and avatars to reduce waste and increase efficiency.
CLO, for example, provides you with an intuitive and user-friendly platform that allows you to envision the fabric, fit, and shape of your designs in a rapid and effortless manner. By utilizing virtual sampling and remote collaboration, you can significantly reduce your time-to-market. With the ability to design using virtual garments, you can eliminate the need for physical samples, minimize shipment expenses, and decrease material waste.
DressX is a virtual reality wardrobe that enables customers to try on clothes, reducing the need for physical clothing which minimizes waste. They advocate for more sustainable production methods, decreasing output, and even elimination of production altogether. So, is this the future of fashion?
The world has been buzzing about AI. Everyone is asking how it will affect their business. How will it affect the fashion industry?
Amazon researchers are proposing AI algorithms to create a virtual shopping assistant to help customers shop for clothes. The algorithms consist of three main functions. The first function enables customers to adjust their search queries by providing descriptions of product image variations. The second function suggests products that complement the items already chosen. The third function generates a composite image of a model wearing clothing pieces from various product pages to showcase how the items can be styled together as an outfit.
Amazon already uses AI to power Style by Alexa and other style recommendation programs to attract customers and boost sales. At Amazon’s hardware laboratory, Lab126, scientists have created a virtual try-on system called Outfit-VITON, which utilizes images to assist consumers in envisioning how clothing articles in reference pictures would appear on an individual’s image¹.
As customer demands change, the store of the future will use tech-driven experiences with augmented reality (AR) technology. This technology will allow customers to try on garments virtually and visualize themselves wearing virtual clothing in a virtual setting, like a beach or gala event, through a blended reality system.
Brands can use this technology to increase conversions, personalize shopping experiences, and reduce returns by offering safe and efficient fitting without the need for in-person interaction. By removing uncertainties around shopping for clothes online, pioneering brands using virtual try-on technology like 3DLook have seen up to 48% decrease in return rates².
Blockchain is another technology changing the sustainability game. Blockchain is a centralized and secure platform that connects information, documents, data, and suppliers. It is a valuable tool for enhancing traceability, transparency, and efficiency in supply chains using technology. At our brand, YesAnd, we believe that everyone should be aware of their sustainability journey, especially with a global supply chain that requires constant connectivity.
Fashion’s supply chains are often plagued with exploitation, corruption, and environmental damage, but we, along with several other sustainable brands, believe that the industry can transform into a more empowering and restorative one. With the help of blockchain technology, YesAnd aims to digitize our manufacturing process to track and trace our materials from farm to finished product. We can then benchmark, audit, and improve our processes by providing visibility at every stage of the supply chain.
In the spirit of climate action and protecting our vital ecosystems, our ultimate goal is to track impact metrics, such as carbon, energy, and water usage, to ensure that our products are sustainable and ethical. We hope that more brands will continue to follow suit.
The intersection of technology, regeneration, and circularity is accelerating, allowing people to make better lifestyle choices supported by material and manufacturing innovation. The focus is shifting towards making quality products that are resourceful and efficient. This transformation will enable us to make better decisions ultimately leading to a positive change in the fashion and lifestyle industries.
Marci Zaroff coined the term “ECOfashion» in 1995 and is an internationally-recognized
ECOlifestyle expert, educator, innovator, serial entrepreneur, and Author of «ECOrenaissance: Co-Creating A Stylish, Sexy and Sustainable World,» (Simon & Schuster).
Founder and CEO of ECOfashion Corp —a “Greenhouse of Brands”—including B2B turnkey sustainable fashion manufacturer MetaWear, regenerative/organic cotton farm project RESET, QVC affordable sustainable lifestyle brands Farm to Home and Seed to Style, and new D2C organic fashion brand YES AND.