TEXTILE VERTICAL SOLUTION
Textile value chain is characterized by the production and treatment of unfinished goods in B2B business relationships. It is very fragmented and distributed in a plethora of very small specialized subjects, usually sub suppliers, working for a few number of relatively larger fabric producers (wool mills), of medium dimension, mid caps mainly.
Especially in the case of high-value textiles, the design of new products’ catalogues (collection) has recently implied a transformation for EU textile companies into ”product-service” suppliers, since even the highest quality textile production would now become empty and worthless if disjoint from a close symbiotic collaboration with the stylists of clothing, in order to personalize fabrics (exclusive textiles) and to support them with the design of extremely customized products.
The textile market is characterized by some very specific peculiarities, among which some ones are critical:
These factors, combined with these last years unpredictable global demand because of macro-economic reasons (textile/clothing is typically a pro cyclic market), caused a fast decrease of average lot dimension and a deepening of demand fluctuations.
The 5 PSYMBIOSYS tussles
On the way from traditional products towards Product-Service combinations various obstacles have to be overcome. Each of them goes along with significant risks and requires therefore thorough investigations which have to be done individually for each application context. Within PSYMBIOSYS 5 categories of such problem areas have been identified. They are called tussles (reflecting a kind of conflict situation) and will be briefly addressed in the following
The evolution from simple product supplier as a role of active part in the design proposal by fabric manufacturers represents the passage towards servitization of textile industry, where the physical manufacturing of fabrics is only the last act of an activity which starts from the proposal and collaboration with clothing designer to support style definition. This process, already ongoing, will be strongly enhanced by the application of virtual prototyping which will provide stylists with a new and agile instrument for new fabric definition, on the basis of virtual proposal in substitution to the present physical ones. If properly exploited this tendency will extol the peculiar design skills of EU fabric manufacturers, favored by the geographical and cultural proximity to clothing producers, enforcing the market barriers against new competitors from low cost countries.
Design and manufacturing functions are usually in contrast position in textile companies, since production aims at optimizing process efficiency, which is based on fabric lot optimization inversely proportional to the number of items produced, and design is focused on the maximization of style proposal on the basis of the number of items and colors per each collection. This divergent vision has led to an increase of prototyping costs in textiles up to 6-7%, with a rate of success around 5%, comparing prototype proposal and regular production . The adoption of virtual prototyping can reverse this tendency by increasing the rate of success of design proposal, reducing proportionally the production cost dedicated to prototyping. A second indirect positive effect of symbiotic integration of production parameters into fabric virtual design is that the characteristics affecting production performance and cost can be considered directly at the moment of design definition, This process can drive designers to look for the best balance of all parameters, overcoming the actual tussels caused by information silos division. This process can be imagined to enable sales force to implement a more innovative relationship with consumers even during fairs and at their premises, increasing the symbiotic win-win relationship between fabric and clothing industry.
At present the relationship between real and digital representation of fabrics is based on the optimization of virtual representation of real fabrics. In other words, it is necessary to produce 1 physical sample to check the real finishing effects of fabric’s surface, which is then introduced into CAD representation by post production processes to support the virtual representation of color variants. Considering that the average number of color per fabric design is around 60, the application of this process is already capable to drastically reduce the number of prototypes of color variants. But the frontier of this symbiotic relationship is to enable virtual prototyping not only to reproduce real fabrics, but also to predict their aspect before the physical production of the first sample. The implementation of this process will be realized by the definition of the relationships between materials, production cycle and surface finishing aspect and by the comparison of prediction and real fabric aspect. In the long run it would be theoretically possible to simulate new and original finishing effects, never realized, boosting the design capacity of fabric designers, and to pass to a virtual reverse engineering business model.
Fashion is based on the satisfaction of sentiments and trend of consumers. Knowledge supports the production process, sentiment the style definition one. Despite the very short commercial lifecycle (6 months) of the product, the length of each season design and preparation activities is 18-20 months. This un-efficient business model is based on the scarce integration of the value chain, where yarn, fabric, clothing producers and retailers are very often represented by different stakeholders, very often of SME dimension. Each one is preparing its own product proposal to the following one. The consumer sentiment transfer from retail back through the value chain would support a critical increase of its efficiency. Based on the joint exploitation of e-commerce and virtual prototyping KETs it is nowadays possible to reverse the process, introducing fabric virtual design proposals to clothing decision makers (stylist, but also retail managers and eventually selected trend setter consumers) in order to capture their sentiments about new design proposals and to focus it towards more successful ones.
Until ‘60s of the past century, before the development of clothing industrial mass production and fashion stylist, fabric producers where at the center of the value chain. Famous examples of this tradition are Zegna and Loro Piana, born as pure fabric producers. Consumers used to purchase fabrics directly from wool mills or fabric stores and to bring them to tailors to create made to measure suits. On the basis of this business model it is now potentially possible to apply servitization model by passing from the traditional output of wool mills, the fabric, to an innovative complete service to tailors. Enabled by actual KETs , tailors can be provided with a dedicated software by which o collect customer measures, to simulate the virtual aspect of the consumer wearing a simulated suit, to transmit the order to the fabric producer from which they will receive the pattern already cut with consumer measures, all the materials to manufacture the suit (interlinings, slipcover, buttons, labels, etc…) and the eventual support to its production. This innovation would create a new business for fabric producers, putting them in contact gain with final consumers, and developing a local tailor production, supported by training sand tutorials. Psymbiosys will investigate the feasibility of this new business model on the basis of a new symbiotic relationship between business and innovation.
The implementation of Psymbiosys strategy requires the creation of an adhoc instrument where all the involved partners, with different credentials, will access and interact. Staring from the outcomes of FP7 FFD research project closed in December 2014 it will be created the Virtual Showroom environment.
The Virtual Showroom will exploit a set of authorized information released by the virtual design office to deal with clothing customers.
It will be designed in order to support sales force when visiting customers and during fairs, natively optimized also for mobile devices. Since one physical sample per fabric design is envisaged, in order to show customer physical “hand” sensation of finishing aspects, the platform will be fully integrated with real tagged samples to support a fast and precise synergy of virtual variants and real samples.
Additionally this platform will be synchronised in real time with production and cost, in order to suggest the best deliveries to optimize lots of production and scheduling.
As further development it is expected to partially open the platform to selected trend setters, customers and consumers (eventually integrated with Piacenza e-commerce clothing as a Service platform) to collect advanced trend sentiments to support design process and.
In order to prevent fraud copies of design this activity must be carefully managed to monitor accesses and credentials.