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Technology Shaping the Future of Fashion

by Eddie Rayner

We are living in an age of technology-enabled disruption, and it is happening in every industry, from food to engineering. So it is no surprise that we see increasing signs of disruption in the world of fashion, which will massively shift the way the industry operates.

To get a view from inside, we spoke to Denis Ravizza, the co-founder and CEO at ESMOD Fashion Institute Dubai.

How do you think 3D printing will affect the fashion industry?

3D printing is beneficial to textile, particularly in its weaving process. It reduces wastage and water consumption in areas such as fabric dying. It is also a great help to visualise a finished garment at the sampling stage. The downside, which hopefully will not take place, is the increase of robotisation in the industry, leading to the reduction of the human workforce, particularly in countries where the fashion industry offers access to employment for individuals with a basic education.

Do you think machinery and technology will affect certain skills required to be a fashion designer?

It certainly does with the robotisation of pattern-cutting, sewing, and assembling, but that is in the fast and mass fashion sectors. The more significant demand is for technicians versus designers. However, this does not affect other sectors, such as couture and haute-couture.

A garment is a specific product, which is linked to the personality and the image of a person. But scientists today are trying to connect the robotisation of the manufacturing process and fashion. In Zara, for example, we may see the same numbers of mathematicians as fashion designers. They are called data scientists and allow us, in 15 days, to analyse, replicate to some extent, produce, and distribute the most wanted fashion pieces and those which mathematically can be sold easily. They are using the full system: mixing data, artificial intelligence, and robotics, but creativity is non-existent!

Hopefully, there are still Fashion Houses who are looking into hand-made designs first, to get the feeling of the personality of potential in-house new designers.

“Scientists today are trying to connect the robotisation of the manufacturing process and fashion. In Zara, for example, we may see the same numbers of mathematicians as fashion designers.”

We already see machinery taking over in the manufacturing front of fashion; do you think AI and algorithms will slowly take over design too?

I don’t think so. AI and algorithms may be useful to facilitate the initial pre-design steps of the design process, such as research and consumer trends analysis. Still, it may be a long road ahead for AI to take over the seats of design thinkers, as, particularly in fashion, inspiration encompasses so many variables.

Is technology causing young designers to become more in tune with engineering and familiar with algorithms?

Today’s designers are highly connected; technology is part of their daily lives. A designer today must be pro-active, re-active, versatile, and adaptable to change. That is challenging, as the act of creation requires time: time to think, time to step back – creation is timeless. But as fashion is a business, time is limited and is measured. At ESMOD Dubai, we first nurture creativity, then technicity, followed by innovation. Our mission is to prepare our students for these new technologies.

Denis Ravizza is the co-founder and CEO at ESMOD Dubai International Fashion Institutes & University Group. In 1989, Denis was rated by the world-renowned American Head Hunter Rita-Sue Siegel as being among the top 1% designers in the USA.