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Textiles Intelligence

Digitalisation and AI in the future fashion industry

Changes could lead to the formation of a supply chain which is ultimately more sustainable and less wasteful.

2nd July 2024

Innovation in Textiles
 |  United Kingdom

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Report summary

Digitalisation and artificial intelligence (AI) are developing rapidly in textile and apparel manufacturing and it is predicted that they could facilitate a shift from fast fashion to a new, ‘slow fashion’ model which involves: manufacturing long-lasting products on demand; instant and digitally enabled responses by sellers; and the shipping of individual items which are personalised in terms of shape and colour.

It is also predicted that many of the processes used for the final product manufacturing stage will be moved to locations which are geographically closer to their intended regional target base of consumers in a process known as ‘near-shoring’.

If these changes happen on a wide scale, they could lead to the formation of a supply chain which is ultimately more sustainable and less wasteful. Right now, the opposite is happening as the advanced algorithms of AI are having an unintended negative effect by facilitating the emergence of so called e-tailers who are offering even faster fashion and exploiting AI in order to flood the market with ever cheaper mass produced garments.

In April 2024 the ultra-fast fashion retailer Shein, based in Singapore, was designated as a very large online platform (VLOP) under the EU Digital Services Act (DSA), and Shein has to prove that it has complied with the expectations which come with this designation or face penalties.

In particular, the company is required to identify and analyse risks relating to illegal content and products and to report them. It will also need to mitigate issues which include ‘the listing and sale of counterfeit goods, unsafe products, and items that infringe on intellectual property rights’.

The company has already been accused by brands and small businesses of infringing on trademarks and copyrights. If it wants to be in compliance with the EU’s new demands, it may have to re-evaluate its terms of use, its algorithms and its internal processes. In France, even stricter legislation to combat Shein and other ultra-fast fashion e-tailers is in prospect. If a bill to crack down on fast fashion is enacted, penalties could be imposed on suppliers of low-cost clothing to compensate for negative impacts on the environment.

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Publisher: Textiles Intelligence

‘Editorial: Digitalisation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the future fashion industry’

12 pages, published in May 2024

Report price: Euro 325.00; US$ 446.00

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