Fibre2Fashion brings to you 10 select developments from 2017 that we believe will have a bearing on the textiles-apparel-fashion industry in the days to come. By Subir Ghosh
Not always do big-ticket events or headline-grabbing incidents dominate the developments over a calendar year; more so in the textiles and apparel industry where the throwing of a stone into a pond creates ripples years later. On the other hand, quite often in fact, there are silent developments that tend to have a bigger long-term impact on the fashion scheme of things. The year gone by was one such phase, with many key developments of 2017 not causing a stir.
1) Digitalise, or be done with
Unless one is consciously cued in, developments on the information technology front are becoming increasingly difficult to keep track ofsuch is the frenzied pace of advancement. This, however, is only the first of the problems. What renders all this even more difficult to gauge is that developments are taking place all the time at various levels, in innumerable directions, and through varied means. The task becomes more gruelling since the sum of all these factors would be true for an industry only at one point in time. As had been pointed out earlier in this magazine, what was considered futuristic even at the turn of the millennium is old hat now, relegated to the footnotes of history. Among many of the technologies that are turning out to be disruptors, blockchain is set to become the most powerful of them all. The big brands have welcomed the development since they can now tackle counterfeiting at a different level, and cement loyalty among customers, besides speeding up the supply chain. Moreover, law enforcement agencies will find it easier to nail culprits. Yet, the embracing of blockchain has been rather slow in industry, and is yet to become the talk of the town. Looking at it from a different angle, all this would lead to nothing unless intergovernmental agreements are put in place in a globalised world where the supply chain cuts across borders. Industry reports have already pointed to the fact that digitalisation would mean zilch unless it comes with the right human intervention. There have been a quite a few disasters related to artificial intelligence that together serve as a word of caution. With the textiles-apparel-fashion industry notoriously slow in adapting to emerging technologies, it is the technology companies that are increasingly calling the shots, at least in terms of distribution as well as customisation. How things shape up in the near future will depend considerably on who calls the shots eventually: the textiles-apparel-fashion industry, or its technology cousins.