Digital Future of Fashion: 8 Startups to Watch from PI Apparel Milano 2018

Here are 8 startups from this year's from PI Apparel, an event designed to explore the challenges and technologies disrupting the fashion, apparel and footwear industries.

If you happened to be in Milan on October 11 or 12 you would have felt the atmosphere of the fashionable future thanks to PI Apparel 2018 – the most innovative gathering of the fashion industry. Several times a year, in different locations, this trade fair brings together top brands, consultants and most progressive fashion startups, to discuss challenges and share experience on digital product creation, augmented and virtual reality AI, machine learning, automation & robotics and many more.

Taking part in this event, I was given the opportunity to meet incredible people and explore strategies and ideas from the most advanced companies. Having met and spoken to various companies at the event, here is a list of the startups to watch, if you want to keep up with front-rank technologies in the apparel industry.

1. Swatchbook

Founded in 2017, Swatchbook creates cross-platform cloud software that changes the way brands work with materials. The application connects brands with suppliers and allows secure communication between the design team, material person and librarian. Simply put, it helps to understand the real properties of materials without actually touching it. So the exploration, visualization & sharing of materials move to the digital world.

2. SUBSTANCE by Allegorithmic

Allegorithmic was established in 2003 as a company in Game and Film industry, now turning towards fashion to reimagine the process of creating textures and patterns. Substance consists of Substance Painter, Substance Designer and Substance Source, solutions for parametric PBR materials. Software called Painter allows to apply materials on 3D objects; a Designer is a tool for creating and editing digital materials either from scan or scratch; and Source is an online library of Substance materials, known for its visual quality.

3. ShareCloth

ShareCloth Editor Videocast #1: How to import DXF into the Editor

A complex cloud solution for apparel on-demand e-commerce. ShareCloth, a startup that I founded, develops infrastructure that connects brands with manufacturers while enabling direct-to-consumer apparel business. On the manufacturing site, it helps to optimize unpredictable demand and overproduction. And in the retail – reduce returns and increase customers loyalty.


Fision helps to answer «to buy or not to buy» question. The body scanning technology allows scanning your body in seconds with a smartphone or notebook. Then the AI algorithms match the body data with product data and give recommendation whether the item will look good on the person, fit the size and match the style. Omni-channel shopping experience boom is a matter of nearest years now.


3DLOOK – Your body is a new medium

Take a selfie – know your ideal size. 3DLOOK is developing a virtual try-on solution using AI technologies. It’s API called SAIA Perfect Fit encourages online retailers’ customers to upload two mobile photos. Then it recommends the best size based on measurement and body shape data. For brands, it means fewer returns and higher conversion rates. The other product is SAIA 3D. It generates customers’ body models from that two photos and the 3D avatars can be used for virtual fitting rooms or pre-production.

6. Bespokify

Just as you can see from its name, Bespokify enables to create bespoke apparel patterns in no time. The web application helps to create individual fit of any garment, from a t-shirt to a wetsuit. After the pattern is created, all other materials needed to produce and sell your unique designs can be generated in minutes.

The technology includes automating product development, grading, sampling, costing and much more. It allows brands to shorten the product launch timeline from months to hours and even minutes, as well as to be extremely responsive to trends.

7. CLO

CLO, the 3D Fashion Design Software

CLO Virtual Fashion makes 3D samples look real. This company created a software solution that gives brands a tool to instantly visualize any number of variations and design details and garment categories. So you do not need to review and remake a physical sample many times before production.

8. Inspectorio

Inspectorio helps companies to build an interconnected digital ecosystem around their supply chain. It offers a SaaS platform, promising outstanding collaboration and connectivity between key stakeholders as well as robust algorithms for automation with the help of cognitive computing. The platform features real-time data sharing, predictive-recommended action plans, defect prediction algorithm, risk assessment, compliance verification, the adaptive inspection process, and more.

Overall, PI Apparel 2018 opened doors and gave me the opportunity to talk to the founders and teams of these startups. The demos that I got to see at the fair were so impressive, that I cannot wait to watch the innovations disrupt the industry and becoming part of our everyday life as fashion and apparel professionals.

Check the complete list of all the startups here. You’ll definitely find some more hidden gems there.

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Muchaneta Kapfunde

Founding editor-in-chief at
Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.
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