More firms in fashion industry turning to tech

More firms in the local fashion business are turning to technology in a bid to fend off the challenges of shorter product cycles and rising competition.

The prize is to snare a slice of a lucrative and growing market.

The 3,000 or so apparel and footwear specialist retail outlets here racked up sales of $3.33 billion last year, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

Mr Mark Lee, president of the Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore, told The Straits Times: "As buyers get more demanding, technology is increasingly critical for the fashion industry - not just for designers, but also across the spectrum, including manufacturers, retailers and distributors.

"The shift towards e-commerce has forced many brand owners to adapt and change the way they run their business."

Many fashion firms seek to improve productivity and revolutionise their products through technology. Take Matex, a chemical company that specialises in making eco-friendly dyes for the textile industry. In order to give itself a competitive edge, the firm teamed up with Octagon Studios to create a clothing collection known as Curiosity Wear 4D+.

The Curiosity Wear 4D+ collection by Matex and Octagon Studios incorporates augmented reality into the T-shirt designs. A four-dimensional version of the print on a shirt can be viewed using a free mobile app called Wear 4D+. PHOTOS: MATEX

The collection, which was launched last November, incorporates augmented reality into the T-shirt designs. This means a four-dimensional version of the print on a shirt can be viewed using a free mobile app called Wear 4D+.

"In such a competitive market, everyone is always asking for the next new thing," said Matex executive director Dro Tan.

"We are one of the first in the world to implement augmented reality on clothes. Beyond style and comfort, this is what gives us the innovative edge."

The brand has three retail outlets in Malaysia selling the 4D T-shirts.

The shirts are also available on the brand's website as well as hobby and specialist sites.

Pleatation, which was founded in 2014, is another local company looking for a competitive edge. It specialises in making pleated items that are often heavily printed. It began a collaboration with print company Epson Singapore in March. Epson helped to digitally print items such as bags using its innovative dye sublimation and direct-to-garment printing technologies.

Unlike traditional screen printing, which is done by hand and can take two to three months, digital printing can be finished in an hour or so. This shortens turnaround time and enables printing in small volumes for customised prints.

Retailers can now have designs on the rack faster and customers can enjoy higher quality and more vibrant designs. Pleatation will incorporate machines next month that will slash the hour-long pleating process by around half.

Pleatation founder Chiang Xiaojun said: "With rising consumer demand, technology needs to be infused as a complementary method of production. However, while we increase our productivity, companies need to ensure that the quality of the product remains."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline More firms in fashion industry turning to tech. Subscribe