Technology Trends - Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Apparel Industry

This article is contributed by Ashish Gupta.

Technology for apparel industry


As per the reports, about 97% of clothing ends up in landfill and 60% of them lands within 12 months [1]. With enormous rise in fast fashion in recent years has accelerated the contribution of greenhouse gases and currently the emissions stand at 8% to 10 % of total emissions. In the recent news breakout, when the news of Atacama Desert, Chile broke out of how fast fashion retailers are dumping clothes. And it has become one of the biggest dump yards of the apparel/textile sector in the world [2]. It's high time to stop snoozing the alarm and consider this as a wake-up call to act and take certain decisions for the future.

We are witnessing this fast-paced world of competitiveness, continuous improvement, and the growth of tech-based products and systems. It has become the need of the hour to upgrade for better efficiency and quality. To reduce waste, sensible production, instant decision making, and bring down the adverse effects of apparel and textile industry on the environment. Technology has played a vital role in addressing human needs and challenges and overcoming them subsequently.

On the same side, the apparel industry has been going under great transformation with the wave of technological advancements and lately the use of AI and machine learning. Tech- based solutions are working as a catalyst in a plethora of areas like safety, scalability, improved efficiency and productivity, cost reductions, customization, waste reductions, sustainable manufacturing and competitive advantage which are helping businesses to reap great benefits, and profits and help to reduce carbon footprints.

Let’s dig into the areas of technology in the apparel industry where the impact can be visualized and help develop new business models and generate new business insights as well as intelligence with strategic technology upgradation.

1. Digitization and Automation 

One of the key challenges currently faced by apparel manufacturers and retailers is the lack of decision-making at the right time due to the lack of analyzed data available. This is because of the disjointed system and gaps in the internal system that are currently processed by manual documents. 

The Industry 4.0 revolution has helped manufacturers unlock new potentials of the business in a much more efficient way using digital platforms for effective data analysis. On the other hand, repetitive tasks, or severe workforce intervention, need urgent attention to implement automation at various levels. 

Automated cutting has come out to be a game changer in the field of automation in the garment industry and continuous efforts are being made for further improvements. It has significantly reduced waste and improved the productivity and efficiency of the cutting room. Robotics [3] have been introduced to counter repetitive tasks with more precision and accuracy with less human intervention. It brings the key potential to optimize the production system and reduce labour costs.

2. Smart Fabrics and Wearable Technology 

In the digital age where each and everything is tracked down via different types of digital technologies, how can it be left from the textiles [4]? 

The growth of smart textiles and subsequently garments has been tremendous because this has brought new business intelligence, and many big market giants are ready to take a bet on it. The demand for garments with built-in trackers and sensors is prevalent. Fabrics with the properties of self-resistant and self-cleaning have paved the way for new business opportunities.

3. Sustainable Manufacturing and Green Practices 

With the advancement of production systems, the apparel industry is now moving towards the practice to reduce the adverse effects on the environment and supply chain. Many control measures are being taken at the initial stages to overcome the demand as well as amend the production methodologies. Producers are shifting to renewable energies like solar energy, wind turbines, and energy-efficient systems for their manufacturing.

Water saving has been prioritized to pull down the consumption of water in garment manufacturing. At the Kingspin Denim show in Amsterdam 2023, Jeanlogia, one of the biggest players in textile and garment finishing showcased the technology developed and working on to curb the 100% use of water for washing in denim washes [5]. Certain experiments are also under process by the company to even get the desired wash at the cutting stage eliminating the most important department of denim manufacturing, the washing procedure. Now, these are what we call technology-driven products that are capable of eliminate or transform the conventional method of processes.

Related post: Sustainable Fashion Brands - Practicing Not to Harm the Environment

4. AR/VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality)

Gone are the days when the customer had to undergo a physical visit to the retail outlet to get the feel of their desired product. Wise use of technology has helped the customers to witness the product feel at their convenience. This has helped end consumers to take wise decisions and improve the purchasing capabilities of the customers. With the help of AR/VR, fashion brands and retailers can engage customers in a much more interactive way and showcase the products with creativity. This has stimulated retailers to reduce operational costs and the need for physical prototypes. 

The German market giant of apparel and footwear Adidas (Adidas AR Sneakers Try-on App, 2023) [6] launched AR-supported mobile applications for customers to try out its iconic models. Now this is an integrated part of Adidas's marketing policy, and its mobile application supports most of the products for its customers to feel a hands-on experience.

5. Circular Economy 

With the current pace of increasing demands, it's high time to fulfill them with limited resources, and the Fashion industry has been a hot topic in recent years when it comes to the circularity of its business. 

The industry is coming up with solutions and inventions to close the traditional production method of raw material-produce-waste to raw material-produce-waste-reuse/recycle/upcycle. In this way, the loop gets fastened in the production cycle and the lifespan of the product is increased. Many brands have come up with the idea of using recycled products to decrease their carbon footprint and are working on the path to developing technology for easy recycling methods to increase the life span of the products. The Swedish Fast fashion retailer, H&M have taken up the initiative to put the best use of technology to recycle garment products. They have also supported Renewcell, to produce fiber from recycled waste [7].

At the governmental level, laws are being drafted to overcome this challenge and France was the first path-making country that introduced the laws to promote a circular economy where severe sanctions were made against the brands to destroy unsold stock [8]. Several laws are made for the promoters of apparel brands, and distributors to donate, reuse, and redistribute or recycle unsold items which will help to curb the release of significant greenhouse gases to a certain level. However, these progressive steps should be taken collectively by major economies to have a larger positive impact.

6. Transparent Supply Chain and Traceability 

As the demand rises, the chances of authenticity manipulation rise, and in the apparel industry the most important is the transparent follow-up of the materials in the whole supply chain. The intervention of technology in this segment has laid a strong base for the brands for their authenticity from fiber to retail as well as to target new customers. 

This helps brands to monitor the supply chain in real time and take decisions. Lately, many companies have invested and come up with products using technology to intervene in this segment. On a larger scale, this has enabled us to narrow down the wastage generated at each supply chain level and track it down efficiently for a sustainable supply of goods to the customer. As per reports, Germany has directed instruction to the retailers to strictly follow the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (GSCA)[9] and track down the supply chain from the raw material stage to the finished product.

Related post: Importance of Traceability in Textile Supply Chain

7. AI in Production 

The most searched topic “Artificial Intelligence” [10] in recent months, has even outperformed some of its technological counterparts in terms of performance and the integration of AI into production will not only revolutionize the production systems but also enable the business to optimize and streamline the manufacturing.

The pain point of manufacturers to detect defects and anomalies in production has been addressed by AI-integrated tools where the discrepancies can be visualized with high precision and speed. AI will also enable brands to forecast much more efficiently and effectively for sensible production helping to reduce waste and over-production.

AI-powered tools can be used to analyze vast amounts of data for better design options to meet certain required criteria. With the pace at that businesses have started to integrate AI into the system, with time as it advances, AI holds the potential to revolutionize design and production systems offering business innovations.


Without a doubt, it can be said that by using technology, the apparel industry can reap the best fruits in the business be it shorter lead time, improved efficiency and productivity, better customer experience, reduced labour costs, the authenticity of the products, key insights of the business, new business models and certainly many more.

This will not only happen with the developments in the tech-based area but also with using the products and solutions at the right time as most of the business promoters are blissfully unaware of the losses, they incur due to a lack of gravity towards innovations and developments.


1. levis-adidas-zara-to-stop-trillions-in-fast-fashion-from-going-to-waste/ar-AA1coUW0

2. ground-for-fast-fashion-leftovers

3. garment-technology-and-manufacturing/

4. and-garment-manufacturing/

5. tonello-jeanologia-atmos-officina39-recycrom-dye-washing-429446/

6. on-app-2/

7. climate/recycling/

8. country-specific-sustainability-laws.html


10. google-search-trends-all-time-high-8642590/


About the Author: Ashish Gupta is a Bachelor in Fashion Technology from NIFT. He is a certified PMTS (timeSSD) practitioner and currently working as Technical Process Developer in a denim plant located in Egypt.

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