Philip Bart Explains How Digital Innovation Could Propel Textile Industry 

Curious what the future might have in store for textiles? See what industry expert Philip Bart has to say.

The textile industry is one of the oldest industries on earth. Yet while textiles, or woven fabrics, have been around for a long, long time, the industry continues to advance by leaps and bounds. Textile expert Phil Bart covers how digital transformation could revolutionize the industry going forward.

“Human ingenuity is a powerful force and as innovation marches onward, change is becoming increasingly rapid,” Mr. Bart says. “Right now we live in a tech-empowered era of digital transformation. But while many folks focus on gizmos, more traditional industries like textiles are rapidly evolving.

Philip Bart Talks Digital Transformation Past and Present

Digital transformation has already had a profound impact on society. Thirty years ago, the Internet barely existed, online shopping was only a dream among entrepreneurs, and shopping malls reigned supreme. Then Amazon and other companies emerged, and now the online apparel market in the United States alone is worth more than $180 billion.

Yet online shopping is far from the only business process that has been or will be reshaped by digital transformation. Up and down supply chains, digital transformation could drive efficiency and spur innovation. This includes not just clothing but other textiles too.

“One of the challenges in textile is lead time,” Mr. Bart notes. “The process from conception to reaching store shelves is quite lengthy and complex. We’re seeing advances in 3-D printing and other areas that could someday soon shorten lead times.”

Fashion is a fast-changing industry and last year’s hottest pieces are already out of date. But digital innovation may shorten lead times in textiles. This means designers, among others, may be able to bring their creations to life far more quickly.

Fashion has long stood at the intersection of society and technology. What’s fashionable on modeling runways is often influenced by trends in movies, TV shows, and more. Likewise, movies and other media can be influenced by current fashion sensibilities. However, as lead times shorten, this respective influence may increase. Overall, digital transformation may encourage fashion senses to evolve more quickly as ideas spread more quickly.

Speaking of high fashion, for a long time, fashion runways have been dominated by industry insiders. This is true both for the clothing on display and also for who’s in the crowd. However, the rise of virtual reality may open things up. Some day in the not-so-distant future, fashion designers may be able to graft their clothing onto lifelike digital models to stage runway shows. And if you’ve ever dreamed of watching the runway in Paris, soon you might be able to do so from the comfort of home.

“We’ve seen digital technologies and the Internet open up many industries while also shrinking the world,” Mr. Bart notes. “And we’ve already seen some change in the fashion industry with VR and other bleeding edge technologies playing an increasingly important role.”

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