Alarmingly, the fashion industry accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Consumption trends and a heightened regulatory climate are driving more and more fashion brands to move away from traditional polluting manufacturing practices.
New-age technology is helping fashion brands make fast fashion a sustainable proposition by streamlining supply chains and logistics, reducing waste, and eliminating inefficiencies.
In India and globally, fashion brands pursuing sustainability are utilizing new-age technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) in the following key areas:
Efficient demand forecasting and planning
The biggest challenge facing fast fashion brands is to manage shortened production lifecycles effectively by minimizing wastage across value chains.
As a result, fashion brands have to offer buyers multiple seasonal offerings to keep up with fast-changing consumer trends. Multiple production cycles require brands to use scarce resources like water and polluting elements like colour dyes repeatedly.
To offset the effects of increased and repeated resource consumption, fast fashion brands are deploying AI technologies to predict consumer choices accurately. Manufacturers are using AI tools for demand forecasting, or predictive analytics to get the colors, patterns, materials, and cuts right.
With AI-powered algorithms, designers with the support of data scientists are spotting future fashion trends by capturing consumer information on search engines, blogs, and social media platforms.
This vast and valuable set of data informs fashion brands’ decisions regarding what to buy, how much to buy, and the final product count that needs to be supplied to the market.
Using AI across the value chain, fashion brands can reduce wastage across sourcing, materials used, and manufacturing a limited number of clothing and accessories.
Reducing product wastage with customisation
Leveraging AI as a technology, fashion brands have more chances to customize clothing and products for their target audience.
For example, AI-powered body scans are enabling manufacturers to produce clothes that fit a larger group of people instead of manufacturing clothes that fit an assumed “body type.” AI helps make clothes that will fit real-world people. With AI fashion brands can offer consumers the option of virtual fittings. This practice helps reduce the number of product returns significantly.
In the world of e-commerce, consumers often order clothes in multiple sizes and colours to try them on and then return them. Shipping these products comes at a huge environmental cost. It is also a logistical challenge for manufacturers and sellers.
With AI helping brands predict the right size based on a vast sample of body measurements, fashion brands can reduce their manufacturing and logistics costs significantly. In addition, they can manufacture products sustainably
3D modelling for testing apparel style-and-fit
AI-powered 3D modelling of apparel and other finished products is helping fashion brands reduce their dependence on manufacturing multiple physical iterations of a product. This is helping industry players to reduce raw material wastage along with natural resources such as water in manufacturing the same piece of cloth multiple times.
Rather than physically producing samples, AI-powered 3D modeling allows fashion brands to try and test multiple digital versions of the same product. Making iterations to a product in this manner is a quicker process without using physical resources, thus helping manufacturers save natural resources.
Efficient inventory and supply chain management
AI and ML tools also help brands have an accurate view of their stock. With AI-powered algorithms, fashion brands can keep track of how many products have been sold and how many remain in inventory at any given time. The information helps sellers and brands make informed decisions about restocking popular products and discontinuing merchandise that’s not selling well.
AI is also playing a big role in helping brands transform their supply chain management. Intelligent warehouse tools can assist brands in managing inventory more efficiently. Fashion brands can deploy AI-powered chatbots to process purchase requests and manage product returns.
On the logistics front, players in the fashion industry can maximise route and fleet utilisation with AI.
In the long run, planned and informed technology investments can help manufacturers and brands make fast fashion a sustainable concept and in the process grow responsibly as an industry