Fashion business as we know it has been evolving for the last few centuries. Today, the majority of garment production takes place far away from the sales locations. Because of this long-distance supply chain, it takes between 4 and 6 months to get from the drawing of the dress to its delivery to the stores. The extensive supply chains create not just the managerial and economic problems, but environmental hazards as well, because overproduction and inability to easily recycle the majority of garments put a strain on the environment. Fashion industry today is the world’s third largest polluter.
On the other hand, 3D printing’s potential for the fashion business is clear even today, and it grows with every year. Experts agree that in the next 5-10 years we can expect radical changes in garment manufacturing cycles and the whole supply chain. Research predicts explosive growth when it comes to the future of 3D printing equipment market, which is set to reach $23 bln in 2020, while the service market is expected to grow to $50 bln by 2025.
Manufacturing companies that do 3d printing estimate that 3D-printed fabrics will become available within the next 3-5 years. Materials identical to leather will be available within a year, while the flexible biodegradable plastic is available even today. 3 Fashion business today is experiencing one of its greatest upheavals since the moment it started to become a global affair.
Long Manufacturing Supply Chain
The extremely long and risky chain of supply, which can’t be radically transformed within the framework of existing (analog) paradigm of the fashion market.
Today, apparel stores are forced to order the new collection half a year before it ships (and is produced), while the fashion brands have to work with an even longer cycle: in order to get pre-orders 6 months prior to shipment, they have to actually produce the apparel collection to show the clients.
AGGRESSIVE RETAIL AND RETURNS
After receiving the collection, which was ordered half-a-year ago, the retail stores use all the available methods to sell it. Anything goes: advertising, discounts, free delivery and free returns for 365 days after the purchase, and much more.
The outcome is familiar to anyone who follows the business of fashion: statistics show that online shops have 25-50% of returns, while offline retailers have 8%4 of returns. The resulting competition inside the fashion business is the competition of supply chains, investments and advertising budgets, and not the competition of design, which was initially meant to solve the client’s problems, not create them.
Part 2 of ‘3D Printed Business of Fashion Business’ Sergey Moliavko will be exploring OVERPRODUCTION AND LOW SUSTAINABILITY.
**Sharecloth has been developing the technology of digital fabric simulation, apparel 3D-rendering and SaaS solutions since 2013. If you can’t wait for the next installment, then please feel free to download their White Paper in its entirety here. **