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From Virtual Design Tools to AI, Technology's Real Impact on Industry Sustainability

The true influence of sustainability in fashion is still debated. Is it a real carbon footprint decrease or greenwashing? As the fashion industry faces environmental scrutiny, designers are using 3D printing, virtual sampling, AI, and augmented reality to lessen their environmental impact. These technologies have benefits, but doubts remain. Are technological advances replacing traditional methods? Do these innovations solve the climate crisis?

Most fashion designers seem interested in technology. Many also preferred analog approaches that worked for them in the past. Designer Ridhi Mehra thinks the answer is in between. “Old-school methods are resource-intensive and increase carbon footprints. Instead, AI trial rooms and 3D design save energy, materials, and trash. Digital breakthroughs fit fashion's environmental conscience. She claims most of her audience prefers trying on pieces in person.


Changing Sustainability

Indian fashion week Lakme Fashion Week started a digital couture campaign with Nexa in 2021. Abraham & Thakore, Payal Singhal, Amit Aggarwal, Huemn, Kanika Goyal, and Ridhi Mehra were the campaign's six distinguished Indian designers. They each sketched clothing and created a 3D virtual ensemble that was digitally reproduced on a model for display. Ingenious marketing eliminated fitting rooms and counters by letting customers experiment with virtual clothing before buying.

Designer Vaishali Shadangule values technology's sustainability impact. Digital technology has improved operations, and 3D design software can help produce collections with fewer resources. She thinks sharing digital lookbooks and 3D models reduces meeting travel. Shadangule still thinks fashion, especially luxury, needs physical and sensual encounters. Despite technological advances, she believes physical samples are necessary. “The real effect of texture and garments can only be appreciated through real samples,” she says. Thus, despite digitalization, physical tools and techniques endure, especially in haute couture, where digitalization has yet to take hold.

Fabricant Iridescence DigiCouture DressFabricant Iridescence DigiCouture Dress



The Fabricant, an Amsterdam-based digital fashion firm, sold their Iridescence Digi-Couture garment for $9,500 (roughly ₹7 lakhs) in 2019, demonstrating the existence of non-physical apparel. Mehra argues, “Digitization has only empowered the seamless operation of this demand and supply chain,” ending the debate. The fashion industry's carbon footprint is affected by landfill waste, CO2 emissions during manufacture and shipping, dyeing water pollution, and microfiber pollution. These contribute to the industry's massive carbon and environmental footprint, underscoring its urgent need for change.” The Marico Innovation Foundation estimates that 30% of manufactured goods are wasted within months of creation.


The AI Revolution

The biggest challenges to fashion sustainability are overproduction and waste. Companies invest a lot of time and money trying to predict and create for the latest trends, resulting in clothes that don't sell even at bargain retailers. Overproduction and fuel purchaseshaves caused waste and inventory. Mehra notes that the fashion business has globalized due to consumers' need for cheap, mass-produced clothes. She claims rail, road, sea, and air delivery of clothing worldwide to meet consumers' next-day wants generates massive carbon emissions. AI algorithms can better predict consumer demand by assessing target markets, historical data, social media patterns, and other aspects. This lowers uncertainty and human error, allowing resources to be invested in selling clothes. Brands may avoid overstocking and waste by improving manufacturing with this data.

The 3D Fashion Tech Revolution, Vaishali S And Bigthinx AiThe 3D Fashion Tech Revolution, Vaishali S And Bigthinx Ai



AI-based solutions provide real-time data and analytics, among other benefits. This data lets brands manage and monitor their production process, detect inefficiencies, and make data-driven resource consumption reduction decisions. AI can analyze clothing designs and determine materials. It can also recommend natural fibres and sources without breaches. AI can also help brands evaluate their sustainability initiatives and success, minimizing global environmental impact.

Rapid generative AI progress and influence have affected fashion in recent years. The BoF-McKinsey State of Fashion 2024 Survey found that “73% of fashion executives said generative AI will be a priority for their businesses in 2024.” Indian brand Opium Eyewear uses AI to create new commercials that violate rules. Levi's partnered with Lalaland.ai in May 2023. AI-generated fashion models should complement human models. While Levi's believes AI won't replace humans, it will offer new potential to improve the user experience. Levi's will use AI-generated models to offer shoppers their products on models that look like them, delivering a more personalized and inclusive shopping experience.


Road Ahead

Despite its many benefits, integrating technology into fashion may present some obstacles. Data privacy and ethical client data handling will be major problems. AI-centric operations will also demand reassessing industrial employment positions. To respond to changes, skills development and training in developing technologies are crucial.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse for fashion sustainability. It provides instruments to assess and mitigate environmental effects, but careful implementation is needed. Touch, material investigation, and workmanship enrich the creative process. As designers and makers, we should balance digital and tactile elements to create a comprehensive design experience, says Mehra.

Vaishali S Kala Ghoda Flagship Store

Vaishali S Kala Ghoda Flagship Store


How well the digital and physical worlds interact is the ultimate test. Digitalization will not eradicate waste, but judicious use of developing digital technology and AI in fashion may help green the planet.



Source: https://elle.in/the-real-impact-of-technology-on-sustainability-in-the-industry/
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