How digital twinning will revolutionise the fashion industry

By Mirko M Scolari, CEO at Happy Finish

Fashion has always been at the forefront of innovation – you just need to look at how quickly brands like Gucci, Nike and adidas embraced technology trends like NFTs. It’s safe to say the marriage of tradition and innovation in fashion is here to stay.

In 2023, we’re now starting to see fashion brands use digital twins to push the industry into a new era. With fashion legends such as couture designer Rubin Singer showcasing a digital twin at this year’s Metaverse Fashion Week in February,  it’s clear the tech is making its mark.

Fashion weeks are the genesis of trends – whether it’s the newest trainer for Summer ‘23 or the first place to say crochet is making a comeback. It’s the same for technology. Now that digital twins have had the spotlight turned on them during fashion week, the technique will be being used by the whole retail industry before we know it.

A digital twin isn’t a simple replica of a physical product. It takes into detail the fabrics, photos of advertising campaigns, fashion show photos, technical photos and so much more. Being able to create something so detailed in one go streamlines the concept-to-purchase journey for designers, retailers and consumers.

Because digital twins exist in real-time as a virtual representation of a physical object or system, they can be used to achieve a faster time to market as well as offering more flexibility and versatility. The technology showcases the detail of fabrics and textures rendering the item as it would appear in real life. It can also provide details on how many samples exist in warehouses, for example. This saves time and money as well as reducing carbon footprint by limiting the amount of travel undertaken to check on stock.

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Using digital twins to tackle fashion’s challenges

Obviously the fashion sector has challenges to tackle – from the pandemic, to increasing sustainability concerns, through to, most recently, economic issues surrounding the cost-of-living crisis. This has forced the fashion industry to adapt to survive. Digital twinning has the ability to soothe pain points and help in areas where changes must be made:

Cut costs

Keeping costs down is always hard – especially in fashion. Luxurious fabrics and innovative shapes cost money. Physical prototypes and samples can be costly, time consuming, and wasteful. By going digital, there is much more flexibility for making tweaks, as multiple versions can be experimented with. With digital twinning, designers can create virtual prototypes and test them in simulated environments, saving money on materials and production costs.

Faster time to market

Some high-street brands, such as Shein, take between two to three weeks from concept to final product. To compete with time frames like this while retaining quality, designers can turn to digital twins. The tech enables rapid creation and iteration of digital prototypes, meaning they can bring products to market faster. This speed-to-market advantage is crucial in an industry that moves quickly, and when trends can change swiftly.

Improves sustainability

The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global waste water due to yarn and fibre preparation plus dyeing and finishing. By reducing the need for physical prototypes, the fashion industry can reduce its environmental impact by minimising the materials used. This also creates less waste and reduces carbon footprints associated with production and transportation.

Changing the consumer’s experience

Consumer behaviour has shifted fast in recent years. Above all, adoption of technology accelerated due to the pandemic. Paired with widespread technological advancements it changed how consumers want to experience brands and products in their day-to-day lives.

Consumers want a brand to make them feel good, enable them to create memories with loved ones, and they also want to take part in experiences that are kinder to the environment. Technologies such as digital twins can enhance a consumer’s experience, creating immersive and interactive experiences by showing products in action.

For its part, the fashion industry has been forced down a more digital route by changing consumer preferences and behaviour, as well as tech innovation.

But the truth is, the sector can benefit from the adoption of digital twinning. It can lead to cost savings, faster time to market, improved sustainability, enhanced customer experience, flexibility and versatility, and more realistic and immersive experiences.

This is all part of the new remit of fashion brands, to leverage the best combination of physical, digital and virtual experiences, reach their customers more effectively and efficiently, and drive sales. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of next year’s Metaverse Fashion Week where the lines between IRL and virtual will no doubt blur even further.

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Mirko M Scolari
Mirko M Scolari
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