Identification of ‘knowledge gaps’ in fashion supply chain is one of the most significant requisites to successfully navigate the various complexities. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that ‘digital transformation’ of the fashion supply chain processes should be the topmost priority of the apparel companies and, although there is no denying the fact that many progressive companies were successful in their endeavours of making themselves digitally conversant well before the pandemic hit the world, a lot of scope of improvement, at large scale, is still required and this is where the role of digital technology providing companies becomes even more crucial.
Alvanon, a renowned fashion tech company which has a first-hand experience in the digital transformations of over 200 apparel brands around the world, is the one which not just keeps addressing the pain points of the apparel retail as well as manufacturing industry, but also talks about at length as to how it can help the brands with its technology, strategic planning and robust worldwide network. The leaders of Alvanon – Janice Wang (CEO) and Jason Wang (COO) – have always been quite vocal about their views on the digitalisation needs of the industry. Team Apparel Resources, therefore, got in touch with them to know more about as to how Alvanon is helping industry transform in a difficult year like 2020. Here are the excerpts.
AR: The need for digitalisation was also there in pre-COVID time but the pace of adoption was slow. However, digital transformation of fashion business has become a necessity in the ‘New Normal’ or post-COVID world. How is Alvanon boosting its efforts to make the fashion supply chain ‘digitally better’ in COVID-19 era?
Jason Wang: I think Alvanon is putting a lot of resources into developing better and more efficient ways to enable our clients to implement their fit standards into their 3D product development supply chains.
1. With our Alvanon Body Platform (ABP), we are encouraging brands to use their Virtual AlvaForms within whatever 3D software they are using (ABP now supports Browzwear, Clo 3D, EFI Optitex, FNX, Gerber Technology, SHIMA SEIKI, TG3D Studio, Toray ACS and Vidya). We have ramped up our integrations into different 3D softwares and will be compatible with more than 12 software partners by Q1 of 2021. This is almost a complete coverage of the entire 3D apparel software market.
2. In addition to 3D apparel software, we are expanding the usage of the Virtual AlvaForm within the digital product development process. We believe that companies should be able to use the same Virtual AlvaForm throughout the entire development process.
- We have launched a human-like Virtual AlvaForm and are constantly developing new anatomically correct poses. This allows technicians to test digital garments for ease of movement, stretch etc. At the same time, we are developing more stylistic poses so that design teams can visualise digital garments in their intended look.
- We are working with 3D studios like REBLIKA to apply realistic human skin, eyes, hair etc., on our Virtual AlvaForms. The result is that the design and merchandising teams can now visualise the garments on realistic looking 3D avatars that have the exact same body shape and measurements as their fit standard – the AlvaForm.
- We are also working with rendering companies like FNX to integrate the Virtual AlvaForms within the final renderings of the product. Combined with the human-like Virtual AlvaForm, this will allow companies to showcase their digital garments to customers while maintaining the intended fit and sizing of the actual garment.
3. Finally, we are also consulting with our clients on how to approach the digital transformation of the product development process. This is happening through the online courses that we are developing with our educational partner Motif.org, and with the help of our consulting team that helps to provide insight and guidance through this change for the industry.
AR: In the Alvanon’s 3D report, you mentioned: ‘the fashion professionals across the product life cycle must trust that the digital garment is the same as the physical product’… As the entire digitalisation starts with this trust factor only, according to you, how can this ‘trust’ be built’?
Jason Wang: The ‘trust’ factor is built from having good tools and processes, and a strategy to execute them. It starts with having the correct collaborative mindset. Are you using 3D to create a pretty rendering? Or are you using 3D to create an actual garment? If it is the latter, then employ the proper tools like fit standards and blocks in the very beginning of 3D development. Validate your digital garment with a physical prototype. When you approve the final garment, make sure to approve both the digital version and the physical version together. Don’t try to cheat the system by making small tweaks to either the digital or physical version to make it look better. Trust is built up on one authentic digital garment at a time.
AR: How is Alvanon faring in a country like India which is not just one of the leading manufacturing hubs of the world but also a huge apparel/fashion market worth US $ 120 billion?
Jason Wang: Alvanon is working with several large brands and retailers within India to develop fit and sizing standards. It is a growing brand market for Alvanon. Primarily though, we supply the manufacturing base by providing them with our physical and digital AlvaForms. India currently accounts for more than 20 per cent of total AlvaForm shipments.
AR: Do you see Bangladesh as a prospective market for your business? If yes, what synergy Alvanon may have with Bangladesh’s apparel industry?
Jason Wang: Bangladesh is already a sizable market for Alvanon. Many brands’ supply chains are in Bangladesh and it is one of the larger manufacturing hubs today.
AR: Janice, do you strongly feel ‘the C-suite executives must own and support the digital transformation else processes may become disjointed and disoriented’. What’s your message for making the fashion industry more growth-oriented using digital solutions?
Janice Wang: The aim of the 3D Tech Festival was to bring the industry together to share intelligence on what strategies and technologies are succeeding in the digital space. We chose to partner with MOTIF to emphasise the strategic importance of skill development and organisational capabilities to tap into the opportunities of digitisation.
C-level executives think that it is purely a matter of implementing a snazzy new tool – but it isn’t that simple. There has to be a shift in mindset. Digitisation needs bold leadership and a commitment to education – upskilling and continual learning is the only way we will successfully equip our people with the skills they need to navigate the digital roadmap.