The fashion industry has been slow to embrace technology relying instead on methods that have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years. Embracing technology and change within the industry is giving some brands a much-needed cutting edge over the competition. We are going to introduce you to three technologies you can incorporate into your brand today and see how these can be utilized to give you an advantage in the market.
A technology we are very excited about at Music City Fashion Design is 3D software. This technology allows you to visually see a flat 2D pattern from your pattern maker on a 3D virtual model. It allows you to get an idea of what the finished garment with your chosen fabric quality will look like before you go into buying materials and having someone sew a sample.
When you are going through the development process it’s normal to have 3-4 or more samples made of your style before approving for production. Each time you are using a professional pattern maker, seamstress, and materials. It can get quite expensive and take a lot of time. Especially if you have a factory sewing the samples overseas. By using the 3D software you can cut down the number of fittings you need saving you both time and money.
We personally use CLO3D for every pattern we create at Music City Fashion Design. It’s not only a great way to check the fit but is also the perfect communication tool when we are working with clients. By getting a visual of the garment beforehand our clients can comment on the length of the hem and where a seam is hitting on the body. We can even review the same pattern using multiple fabric specifications and make any updates needed as the fabric changes. We have also used this technology as a tool to review print scale and placement.
Sometime in the near future we are all going to have virtual 3D models of ourselves and will go into virtual fittings rooms to try on clothes before ordering online. Wouldn’t that have been nice to have during this past year?
When you think of wearable technology, you probably think of things like the Apple Watch or Fitbit. There are other, more simple forms of wearable technologies you can incorporate into your line that will be a huge benefit to your customer.
The Owlet Smart Sock
One of our designers used the Owlet Smart Sock when she had her first baby and said it was hands down, the most important baby gift she received and no, this is not a paid advertisement! The first year can be scary for new parents. This little sock slips right onto the baby’s foot and monitors their heart rate and oxygen levels giving parent’s the peace of mind to get some much-needed sleep. It’s a fairly simple idea when you think about it. What parent wouldn’t want to monitor their baby’s stats 24/7? Or are we the only helicopter parents out there?
Bluetooth Sleep Mask
This is another existing technology that someone has built into a clothing accessory. It’s a sleep mask with a Bluetooth headset sewn in between the shell and lining. This allows the wearer to listen to their favorite music while drifting off to sleep. Great idea right? Again, Bluetooth technology was already in existence. This designer just incorporated it into their clothing design for a great wearable technology pairing!
To Patent or Not to Patent
What we propose you consider is that there are existing technologies out there waiting for someone to build them into the latest wearable technology people can’t live without. They didn’t invent the technology but thought outside the box and solved a major problem for the target customers. Questions you should ask yourself:
What types of existing technology could you build into your line?
Who would you need to partner with to get your idea off the ground?
Is there an existing app developed that you could coordinate with?
If you have a unique enough way of integrating a known technology into your pieces, it’s possible you could also patent your idea. There are patent lawyers out there who can help walk you through the process. Most patents will require a technically correct drawing of your idea. If you do not have the skills for this piece, Music City Fashion Design can provide patent drawing assistance. If you are pursuing a patent, we would also highly recommend that you have every person you explain your idea to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). This ensures you retain all rights to the idea.
Software for Inventory Management
Another area we highly suggest you consider incorporating technology is in your inventory and sales management. Trying to manage your inventory can be very time consuming, especially if you are only using an Excel sheet. You need to be able to track and analyze your sales and react to you client at an instant.
100% of the brands that our designers worked for in the corporate world had a management software called Flex PLM. However, Flex PLM is very expensive and meant to be used by a very large team. We want to look at management software that is geared toward and will help meet the needs of smaller and growing brands.
You might be asking yourself, why do you need this? This is why: If you blow out of a certain size and style, you need to be able to react quickly and ship more bulk inventory to your manufacturer to keep your best-selling items in stock. It’s also extremely helpful to be able to track which sizes, silhouettes, and colors your clients are buying most of so you can analyze and buy smarter for your upcoming collections. In the corporate world, sales are analyzed weekly if not daily and the brand strategy shifts instantly to react to the new trend. This reaction to your customer’s buying trends is even more imperative for a growing brand. You need this data at your fingertips so that you too can react quickly to meet your ever-changing customer needs.
Apparel Magic is an inventory software that is specifically built for apparel. This is a web-based software you can access anywhere you have a wifi connection which is especially great for those that travel often. It even has a coordinating app so you can quickly pull the information you need right from your phone. It not only allows you to track your apparel inventory but also manage multiple sales channels, divisions, warehouses, and suppliers.
While your product is in the early stages of development you can input and manage the style fabrication, image, supplier, manufacturer, and even house some of the tech pack information to keep your development well coordinated.
All of your fabrics can be at your fingertips so you can access and re-order as soon as possible. It is also helpful to keep any supplier notes connected with the fabric so you can reference before calling them.
Costing your garment and planning retails and margins is another helpful tool that this software provides. You should be looking at your costing and planning ahead as you develop each style. This software helps you do it seamlessly.
At $80/month. This software is well suited for a growing fashion business.
There are several companies out there that offer this type of software including BlueCherry, ParagonSMB, NetSuite, Sync, and the list goes on and on. Find the one that will work best for you and where you are right now.
We love working with small businesses because they often have an open box mindset and are able to embrace change and whatever the world decides to throw their way. Technology will always be a big part of our world and embracing it can help give you a much needed edge over the competition and keep your customers coming back for more!
If you’re looking for more tips on how to get started building a fashion brand check our our Top Ten Items to Research list below!