In an effort to meet the needs of an industry shift toward personalization and sustainability, apparel manufacturing is innovating. From 3D printing to sew-bots, automated cutting to VR mirrors in dressing rooms, tech is automating the fashion designer.
One of the more recent innovations in fashion tech is digital, on-demand printing. This apparel manufacturing solution has zero water waste compared to traditional printing. It allows for small-to-large sized apparel brands to compete on the global fashion stage by providing just-in-time product runs and on-demand, inexpensive customization.
A couple of apparel entrepreneurs are leading the charge to sustainably innovate the fashion industry and democratize fashion for brands nationwide, right here in Arizona.
Co-founders Sherri Barry and Angela Johnson have created FABRIC — a non-profit fashion incubator located in Tempe, Arizona. FABRIC is also a business accelerator, design studio academy and manufacturer that is sustainably disrupting, redefining and reshoring the fashion industry for the modern apparel entrepreneur.
FABRIC provides guidance, no-minimum manufacturing, business resources, product development, education and studio space to apparel entrepreneurs. It’s a one-stop shop for fashion brands, created by experienced apparel entrepreneurs who wanted to make manufacturing and owning a brand more accessible and less challenging for others.
Since their inception in 2016, FABRIC has helped over 800 fashion entrepreneurs bring their designs to market.
Barry went one step further and created The Fashioneer, a sustainable, technology-driven alternative to the traditional manufacturing model that shortens the sewn product lifecycle. This apparel manufacturing solution allows for apparel brands to compete on the global fashion stage by providing just-in-time product runs and on-demand, inexpensive customization.
The Fashioneer is the future of fashion. It’s a multi-line full-service apparel manufacturer offering design, print, cut, sew and ship services both on-demand and using more traditional manufacturing options with low minimum order quantities.
Fashion, art and technology
The link between fashion and fabric printing is quite strong. The technologies at the heart of this industry revolution include the Kornit Presto single-step, direct-to-fabric printer and the Gerber Z1 cutter with ContourVision.
Kornit Digital is an Israeli-American international manufacturing company that produces high-speed industrial inkjet printers, as well as pigmented ink and chemical products for the garment and apparel, home goods and textile industry.
A unique personalized print is engineered and dropped directly into a digital pattern file using Gerber’s Acumark CAD program. The garment pattern is virtually stitched together and displayed as a 3D rendering that includes the engineered print prior to being physically cut and sewn. This step reduces the number of prototypes required to perfect a design. The ContourVision camera of the Gerber Z cutter then scans the printed fabric before swiftly auto-cutting the pieces of the garment from the fabric. The garment is then sewn in the Tempe factory.
Investing in digital printing allows The Fashioneer and FABRIC to meet demands for customizable fashion while still being eco-conscious. “We want to provide the best sustainable technology to our designers so they can fully realize their design potential and offer truly unique personalized products to their customers,” Barry explains.
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion brands create fashion in a way which is most considerate of humanity and the environment, reducing the environmental impact where possible. The ultimate goal is to have a system that works without leaving a negative footprint.
Sustainable fashion saves natural resources, reduces carbon footprint, requires less water and is healthier for people and the planet.
The Fashioneer and FABRIC can meet demands for customizable fashion while still being eco-conscious. The Kornit NeoPigment Robusto water-based pigment ink, according to Barry, is “highly UV-resistant, has durable wash and rub results, has soft hand feel, and employs zero water waste.”
Fashions are made to order according to the customer’s wishes. All jobs are completed in one location. Barry notes that this service is unique and rare in the fashion industry today, placing Arizona on the national fashion design and implementation stage.