Is China’s Mysterious $15 Billion Fast Fashion Retailer Shein Ready For Stores

Over 30? Then you had better read on. Shein may not be a household name like e-commerce giants, Alibaba BABA -0.4%, Taobao, or JD.com, but as China’s newest retail Decacorn, its mystery-shrouded low profile is matched only by a single-minded ambition to become a global fast-fashion retailer.

Founded in 2008, Nanjing-based Shein is aimed squarely at Gen Z, luring young shoppers via Instagram and TikTok influencers and a barrage of discount codes for low-cost styles – with a dress costing just half that of a Zara equivalent, according to Societe Generale – uploading new products online in their hundreds every week.

Yet beyond its teen audience, ultra-publicity shy Shein remains largely unknown. But that anonymity could all be about to change after the Pearl River-based company became a surprise potential bidder for ailing U.K. fashion group Arcadia. While it failed in that attempt, the message is clear: Shein is ready to take on Main Street.

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The story really starts at the beginning of 2012, when notoriously hard-working founder and CEO Chris Xu (sometimes known as Yangtian Xu) – an American-born graduate of Washington University – gave up his wedding dress business to acquire the domain Sheinside.com. Initially selling women’s clothing, in 2015 he renamed the company Shein, focused on overseas markets, and began snapping up fashion rivals.

The U.S is now Shein’s largest market, while it also ships to 220 countries, with websites for Europe, the Middle East, Australia, and the U.S. Rapid growth has been propelled by a series of funding rounds, most recently completion of Series E financing in 2020, which gave Shein an eye-watering valuation exceeding $15 billion. Revenues are not disclosed but are locally estimated in excess of $10 billion annually and have continued to soar throughout the pandemic, while it currently counts a number of Asian and international VCs and private equity houses among its backers. MORE FOR YOUFashion’s Nightmare Before Christmas As Debenhams Joins U.K. CarnageAs GameStop Army Goes Global, U.K. Retail And Malls Among Most ShortedDr Martens Puts Best Boot Forward With Year’s First Big IPO

Shein: Fast Fashion, Made Ultra Fast

Remember that age/awareness divide? Well, in the week starting September 27, Shein was apparently the most downloaded shopping app globally on iPhone, according to analytics platform App Annie. It ranked in the top 10 in the U.S., Brazil, Australia, the U.K., and Saudi Arabia.

To service the U.S. market, products are sent from Shein’s warehouse in Foshan, Guangdong province, to a warehouse near Los Angeles, Ca., and fulfillment can take over ten days, glacial by Amazon Prime’s AMZN +0.5% next-day delivery standards. But its affordability has ensured a loyal customer base, lured by an ever-changing roster of women’s clothing and accessories added at an average of 2,000 SKUs every day.

Shein is obsessed with identifying hot searches and trends in different countries to predict the colors, fabrics, and styles that will be popular, with an even faster cycle than Zara owner Inditex. It then promotes heavily with Instagram- and Weibo-friendly imagery, for accessible and attainable fashions across all its social platforms.

However, Shein’s ascent has not been without its problems. In July it was roundly condemned for having a swastika pendant available (an error for which it profusely apologized), while paid-for posts from celebrities and fashion influencers have elevated the brand’s image as well as slowly rebutting its low–cost, low–quality rap. The label even managed to sequester stars like Katy Perry, Lil Nas X, and Rita Ora for its May 2020 #SHEINTogether global streaming event.

The Emergence Of A Global Fashion Player

All this remember for a company that didn’t even have its own supply chain before 2014, preferring to buy directly from Guangzhou’s Shisanhang Garment Wholesale Market. However, faced with soaring demand, Xu created an in-house design team and within two years had assembled an 800-strong army dedicated to designs and prototyping for ultra-fast production. It also garnered a reputation for timely payment, something of a rarity in China, and as a result when Shein moved its supply chain operations center from Guangzhou to Panyu in 2015, almost all of the factories it worked with relocated.

In the same year, Shein entered the Middle East and sales soared, with revenues in 2016 rising to $617 million and exceeding $1.5 billion the year after.

Shein and the hundreds of factories that work with the company have coalesced in a production cluster bearing close similarities to A Coruña in north-east Spain, where Inditex’s headquarters are surrounded by its upstream and downstream suppliers. It has four R&D facilities in Nanjing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, plus six logistics centers in Foshan, Nansha, Belgium, India, and on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. It also has seven customer service centers, based out of Los Angeles, Liege, Manila, Yiwu, and Nanjing, and employs more than 10,000 people.

Future plans are thought to include the development of new businesses in mobile payments, supply chain finance, advertising, and, of course, opening brick-and-mortar stores. Whatever happens, it’s likely to do it ultra-fast.

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Mark Faithfull

Mark Faithfull

I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events.  I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!

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Randomfacts by Shikhaa

Buy Shein similar style clothing on Amazon from below link: https://amzn.to/37KnH7Uhttps://amzn.to/314dxxEhttps://amzn.to/2BmAVMehttps://amzn.to/3dhw6kAhttps://amzn.to/2YgLj0Rhttps://amzn.to/3difjxFhttps://amzn.to/3djbYykhttps://amzn.to/2YTmeZ1​ Buy Shein similar style footwear on Amazon from below link: https://amzn.to/3fIZNfOhttps://amzn.to/37QkLXEhttps://amzn.to/3189Bfc​ Buy Shein similar style necklace on Amazon from below link: https://amzn.to/30XLIaphttps://amzn.to/2BpY4NEhttps://amzn.to/2UZ0n16https://amzn.to/3ekU7bK​ Here are few interesting and quick facts about Shein. SHEIN is an international B2C fast fashion e-commerce platform. It was founded in October 2008. The website offers a large range of women’s wear in apparel, men’ clothings, children’s clothes, accessories, shoes, bags and other fashion items. It has its customers from Europe, America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. It has business in more than 230 countries and regions around the world. Its primary office is in England.

Chris Xu is the Founder & CEO of SheIn and has an approval rating of 62 from Owler members. They have over 200 employees. Shipping takes 2-3 weeks. Please refer to customer feedback before taking the item. Sizes may also vary from each clothing item. Track Info: Title: Ukulele Artist: Bensound Genre: Pop Mood: Happy Download: http://goo.gl/qNeHBq​ Ukulele by BENSOUND http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-​… Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b​… Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/G7HoUVcL5-U​ ––– • Contact the artist: bensoundmusic@gmail.com http://www.bensound.com/https://twitter.com/Bensound

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How These Women Investors Crushed It In 2020

In an investment industry known for big egos, overconfident analysts and “activists” who routinely tell CEOs how to run their companies, investor Nancy Zevenbergen and her team of four portfolio managers differentiate themselves by simply listening.

Zevenbergen, 61, founder of $5.7 billion (assets) Zevenbergen Capital Investments, believes the crucial job of an investor in today’s economy is to uncover the next great entrepreneur or technological innovation early on. The style is about “optimism and a view toward what the future might be,” she says. According to Zevenbergen, her task is to be curious and “understand the ‘crazy’ visions of new leaders and become investors alongside them.” If she likes a company, her Seattle-based firm will load up and watch from the sidelines, tracking the business patiently and holding their shares so long as growth doesn’t stall. Rarely do they worry too much about valuation.

This humble approach to investing has yielded results that make Zevenbergen among the best investors in the world. She has stuck by mercurial Elon Musk and owned Tesla for about a decade; Tesla’s stock is up 730% this year, and is the top performing stock of the ten years. She discovered Ottawa, Canada-based ecommerce company Shopify and its founder CEO Tobi Lütke in late 2016 when it was trading below $50; it now trades for $1,170.

Last September, Zillow chief executive Rich Barton decided the real estate platform would begin buying homes, leading to complaints from skeptics who sent its shares cratering 20% to below $30. Zevenbergen’s team liked Barton’s experimentation and built a large position. Fifteen months later, Zillow now trades for $140.

Nancy Zeverbergen
Seattle-based Nancy Zevenbergen calls investing with a less than five-year time frame “truly speculative.” Case in point: She’s owned Amazon since it traded in the $60s and still holds shares after a 90-fold rise. Tim Pannell for Forbes

With stock-picks like these, Zevenbergen’s Innovative Growth Fund (SCATX) and Genea Fund (ZVGNX) are up a staggering 126% and 154%, respectively, in 2020. Of over 1,000 peer funds tracked by Morningstar, the two mutual funds rank in the top percentile. 

Zevenbergen created her firm from her living room in the late 1980s with just $500,000 in assets while she nursed a young child. Her flagship strategy has beaten the S&P 500 Index by around four percentage points annually since 1987, but 2020 was a watershed. Assets more than doubled soaring towards $6 billion, based on performance and inflows to her mutual funds.

Zevenbergen is not the only woman fund manager who has crushed competition in 2020. Forbes found at least a half a dozen firms led by women-led funds that have blown away their peers and drawn in tens of billions of dollars in assets collectively since the start of January.

Cathie Wood, founder of Ark Investments, had the best year of anyone. In 2014, Wood, 65, created Ark with the idea of packaging stock-picking into tax-efficient exchange traded funds, and focusing exclusively on breakthrough innovations in genomics, robotics, financial technology, autonomous driving, digital services, and artificial intelligence. 

Six years later, Ark manages nearly $44 billion in assets, up from just $300 million at the end of 2016. This year, Ark funds have pulled in over $10 billion in new assets, led by extraordinary returns. Her flagship Ark Innovation Fund (ARKK) has seen assets soar to $17 billion, fueled by a 154% gain in 2020 and a 46% average annual return over the past five years. Her $6 billion Ark Genomic revolution ETF is up even more this year. “I wanted individual investors to catch the wave,” says Wood of today’s enormous technological change. Her funds were designed for those “willing to step out and away from fixed income and into some of the most exciting stocks in history.”

Ark publishes its financial models, trading logs, and research to the investing public, and the firm’s analysts are happy to engage in discussion on Twitter, opening themselves to criticism and mockery. Wood’s $4,000 a share valuation of Tesla a year ago drew many scoffs on Wall Street. But her heady valuation was spot on. Short sellers have been burned by Tesla’s rise, while female investors like Zevenbergen and Wood have been patient bulls. On Friday, Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index.

Female investing success in 2020 extends well beyond soaring growth stocks. Women-run funds are leading the way in everything from small cap stocks, to emerging market debt portfolios, dividend paying companies, and sustainable investments.

Amy Zhang, portfolio manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus Fund (AOFIX) and Mid Cap Focus Fund (AFOIX) was hired in 2015 to expand Alger’s presence in niche small and mid-cap stocks. When Zhang arrived at Alger, the Small Cap Focus Fund had just $16 million in assets. Now, after a 54% return in 2020 and a 30% annual average return over the past five years, Zhang’s Small Cap Focus Fund has $7.5 billion in assets.

Top holdings include refrigerated logistics upstart CryoPort and fast casual restaurant Wingstop. Her Mid Cap Focus Fund, launched in mid-2018, has attracted over $500 million in assets as it has soared by 84% in 2020, bolstered by casino operator Penn National Gaming and power equipment manufacturer Generac.

Long before sustainable investments became a prolific buzzword, Karina Funk, an MIT-educated engineer at Baltimore-based mutual fund giant Brown Advisory, was a pioneer in bringing sustainable investments mainstream. Funk, 48, a vegetarian who watches her carbon footprint by biking to work, launched the Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund in June 2012, alongside David Powell, with a goal to back about 35 companies with products improving social and environmental sustainability, or efficient operating footprints.

Its focus on companies like Ball Corp. and American Tower has made it one of the best funds on the planet during down markets. Even in 2020, the fund has gained 38% despite its defensive posture, thanks to savvy picks like life sciences conglomerate Danaher and Etsy, which has empowered many small businesses during the pandemic. Funk can be a tough customer. She exited Facebook in the fall of 2018 due to data privacy concerns.

“Sustainability is a means, not an end in and of itself,” she told Forbes as part of a profile three years ago, when the fund’s assets were just $1.1 billion. “Our end goal is performance. We achieve that by finding fundamentally strong companies using sustainability strategies to get even better.” The fund’s assets have since soared to $4.6 billion.

Other female-led funds that have done well include Capital Group’s $128 billion American Funds New Perspective (ANWPX), led by a team of managers including Joanna Jonsson and Noriko Chen, and the $36 billion in assets JPMorgan Equity Income Fund (HLIEX), led by Clare Hart. The New Perspectives fund has beaten its benchmark by four percentage points annually over the past decade, while Hart’s Equity Income Fund has returned an annualized 11.65%, two percentage points annually above its benchmark, according to data from Morningstar.

Rebecca Irwin, Natasha Kuhikin and Kathleen McCarragher of the $1.3 billion in assets PGIM Jennison Focused Growth Fund (SPFAX) have returned 68% in 2020 and 25% over the past five years, ranking in the top decile of peer funds. At Alger, Ankur Crawford, co-manager of the Alger Spectra Fund (ASPIX) and Alger Capital Appreciation (ACCAX) has seen returns surpass 40% this year.

In fixed income, Tina Vandersteel of the $4.4 billion in assets GMO Emerging Country Debt Fund (GMCDX) has been able to outperform emerging market bond indices despite underweighting China and many Gulf-states due to her skepticism of the veracity of their economic data.

The bull market of 2020 is also creating new opportunities for female fund managers to shine. Two years ago, Julie Biel of Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson Rudnick, was a rising star at the $30 billion (assets) firm and excited about the looming public offering of software company DocuSign. Known for investing in established businesses, Kayne had never participated in an IPO. Biel was late in her pregnancy as the IPO progressed and trying to win an allocation. She needed a doctor’s note to fly to the Bay Area to meet with DocuSign’s management. Kayne eventually won a large block of shares, quickly becoming one of its largest outside investors.

Biel also began to manage the firm’s KAR Small Mid- Sustainable Growth strategy around that time and made DocuSign the fund’s top holding. Its shares have risen 225% in 2020. This year, Biel’s fund has returned 42% through November. In December, Kayne decided to launch a mutual fund version, launching the strategy, called the Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Growth Fund (VIKSK), with Biel in charge.

Like Zevebergen and Wood, Biel is starting small and manages just $60 million. But the investment industry rewards performance above all, hinting at much larger things to come. Entering 2021, Biel’s portfolio is loaded with hidden gems like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and MarketAxess that could grow for years to come. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

Antoine Gara

 Antoine Gara

I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to agara@forbes.com. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara

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NewChic – Discover Your Most Fashionable Collocation Shopping With The Latest Trends

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In a world where fast fashion is king, and your next killer closet staple is available through the click of a button, offering trendy styles at cut-rate prices has become a global retail standard.

The internet has made the retail world smaller and offered shoppers a world-wide marketplace where they can find cheap deals on all kinds of fashion, electronics, and home products.

Multiple e-commerce retailers are working to earn your dollars by promoting deep discounts on trendy clothing and on-style accessories to build a wardrobe on a budget. One of the popular sites taking advantage of this shopping trend is NEWCHIC.

If you love a good deal on new, chic clothing, then the banners offering women’s fashion starting at $2.99 and shoes for 70% off will definitely catch your eye. But, how much can you trust these rock-bottom prices?

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Newchic is a legal online fashion company found in 2015. They have both registered website and app. They even got their official Youtube channel, ins, FB and other social networking accounts. This website is a kind of one-stop website with products ranging from men and womens clothes,shoes, bags, accessories, beauty to home& garden.

I believe a scam company won’ t be so professional and usually they won’ t let you find them easily. As for Newchic, it is obviously not that kind of company. Whey you do online shopping, things may happen that you got clothes or shoes with wrong sizes or wrong colors. Just tell their customer service your problems and they will find a solution.

How to tell if a company is legit or not? First, Reviewing the website to determine legitimacy. Telephone number, address and indicator of professionalism are all useful info. Second, review the company’s policy pages. Legit company almost got use of terms as well as privacy policy. Third, consider how the company accept payments.Legal company usually will support official and mainstream payment. Finally, check their social networks. As I said, most of the scam company they get your money and then disappear. So they won’t let you to have a chance to find them.

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Scientists, Designers And Activists Collaborate To Tackle Fashion’s Biggest Problem

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As the first World Economic Forum summit of this decade in Davos approaches, several announcements and launches are taking place to define the direction of sustainability across industries, with a notable focus on fashion. The upcoming Study Hall – Climate Positivity At Scale conference in New York (and live-streamed online) later this month will bring together eminent environmental scientists, chemists, fashion designers and activists to push the sustainability conversation beyond incremental and marketing-driven initiatives towards a decade of “listening to the scientists,” as urged by activist Greta Thunberg. The Study Hall Conference will use the UN Decade of Action to begin writing a new chapter in fashion history, where science is its closest collaborator.

Fashion and science have historically had a tricky relationship. Fashion reinvents itself perpetually and is heavily influenced by art, politics and popular culture, dancing to the beat of ephemerality, fleeting trends, and creative whims. Science employs a rigor and methodology that demands an entirely different and resolutely rational approach. The environmental situation we find ourselves in today demands that the two sectors harness the power of each other to fulfill our collective climate goals.

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Climate Change and Fashion

I spoke to Robin E. Bell, the ground-breaking Geophysicist and environmental scientist based at LDEO, Columbia University, who has been correlating antarctic ice sheet changes over the past three decades with projected climate change and agreed to speak at the conference for two reasons. One is practical and action-oriented, she told me, with the very top line message being “the planet is changing and we are the cause of it.” The second is her belief that the fashion industry can take an intellectual and emotional lead by being part of the climate conversation. She also urges collaboration, saying “it’s very clear that we have to build partnerships across all industries so we have the knowledge to look at this [climate change] as a system.”

This is where the fashion industry has struggled. Sustainable transformation in the context of the industry’s total environmental impact (from design to end-of-life) has been difficult to diagnose and evaluate. Without capturing the critical data and applying appropriate analysis any transformation strategy is a guess—educated or otherwise. This is where listening to the scientists (and digitizing the supply chain to ensure all required data is collected) comes in.

On the topic of the supply chain, Bell will urge fashion companies to assess the use of energy and the amount of CO2 generated, (and therefore the contribution to increased global temperatures) in their supply chain. The subsequent actions of the industry should be “looked at in relation to the CO2 budget,” she stated. Underpinning this is a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

The concept that people think we are doomed—we are not. We are fortunate as a species to be able to see what we are doing. We, as a species, can look at the planet as a whole. We can see how this global system works. We haven’t done that yet because we haven’t gotten awareness of the problem.

Robin E. Bell, professor, Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

What’s striking about the conversation with Bell is that she is utterly optimistic and warns again a fatalistic attitude to climate change. Knowing the facts, I asked why. “We have a lot of resources on the planet— solar, wind, nuclear. The application of this knowledge and the will to do so is missing,” was her response. How can the fashion industry help catalyze action toward renewable energy? “Fashion conveys the sense that our planet is a beautiful home in a way that other industries can’t. Fashion can be a platform for the voice of science,” she believes. She makes the point that it is far more difficult to communicate what we cannot see, like carbon emissions. If the message of science can be delivered by fashion that is a powerful partnership.

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The fashion industry is powerful because everyone sees fashion, it is a way to communicate.

Robin E. Bell, professor, Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Fashion Storytelling

A fashion brand with a voice it isn’t afraid to use is Noah Clothing. Co-founded by Estelle Bailey-Babenzien (interior designer) and Brendon Babenzien (ex-Design Director at Supreme) and based in NY, the brand shares global environmental news interwoven with fashion product images and photos of their community—devotees of the skate, music and fashion scenes.

We present a lot of terrifying facts to our customers, but in the middle of that we are a brand that talks about skateboarding.

Brendon Babenzien, co-founder, Noah Clothing

If fashion is synonymous with culture and lifestyle, then the decisions each of us make about what we wear says something about your beliefs and values. Noah Clothing’s values are rooted in a commitment that puts morals ahead of profits. “We will not grow if it means making a decision we are not proud of. If the conversation becomes about paying people less, that’s not appropriate,” said Brendon Babenzien. This no doubt draws admiration, dedication, and trust from fans of the brand, which is why when Noah Clothing speaks, their community listen.

Brendon Babenzien reflects on the business values he saw as a kid growing up in the ’80s. “It was all about ROI, what Wall Street is saying, the money value. But if you make people sick in the process it is a failure,” he said.

If you have to factor in human suffering everything changes—you’re not going to make as much money. We need a complete and total value shift about how we talk about things.

Brendon Babenzien, co-founder, Noah Clothing

Noah Clothing will contribute to a discussion at the conference on why fashion isn’t sustainable, presenting open and honest viewpoints about why sustainability is often talked about, but rarely achieved in a measurable, verifiable way. When asked about sustainability initiatives within his brand, he points to heavy reliance on textile mills and suppliers to guide them on sustainable materials. However, without the ability to assess the relative merits of one textile versus another, he says they have chosen to opt for the highest quality virgin and recycled materials to ensure the longest possible lifespan of their garments.

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Quantifying Sustainable Materials

A chemist tackling the lack of verifiable material sustainability data hampering companies like Noah Clothing is the CEO of Bolt Threads, Dan Widmaier. He has overseen the growth of Bolt Threads from a three-person material science startup in 2009 to a biomaterials and fabrics company with over 125 staff that has raised over 215 million dollars in investment. Since inception, Bolt has worked on the principle that nature is making extraordinary protein-based fibers that, if they could be made synthetically, would require far less planetary resources. A win for the planet, and a win for those wanting to take advantage of the billions of years of evolutionary refinement that nature has distilled in those natural fibers. Following nature’s blueprint and introducing lab-based efficiencies has led to Bolt Threads developing their Microsilk (synthetic spider silk) and Mylo products (a mycelium-based leather alternative) in small batches to test via designer collaborations.

Bolt Threads are very aware of the power of fashion to tell the story of science and have worked with Stella McCartney and adidas to release small ranges of sportswear knitted from Microsilk yarns. At the conference, Widmaier will discuss the role and methodology of Life Cycle Analysis, which is the current best practice tool (but far from perfect, he told me) for assessing the total environmental impact of a material or product—information that would be highly useful for fashion brands, including Noah Clothing, who do not create their own textiles.

We don’t sense and experience CO2 increase, we see the climate change effects—hurricanes, wildfires…  As carbon goes up, we need to make materials that stop contributing to that.

Dan Widmaier, CEO, Bolt Threads

It is evident that a symbiotic relationship between fashion and science is evolving, along with a moral imperative for the fashion industry, as a global leader in visual storytelling, to present a version of the planet we want to live on, to counter the current doom and gloom view of climate change. The Climate Positivity At Scale Conference is bringing this unique array of speakers together to foster a new fashion and science debate and instigate new collaborations. Other speakers at the conference, which is free to attend, include actress and advocate Yara Shahidi, Creative Director of Timberland, Christopher Raeburn and the fashion designer Mara Hoffman. Sustainability and regenerative farming experts from G-Star Raw and Hudson Carbon will also be amongst the speakers.

 

 

Celine Semaan, Founder of Slow Factory Foundation, a non-profit design lab and sustainable literacy initiative based in New York, established the Study Hall summit series in 2018. Reflecting on the purpose of the upcoming conference she said “fashion has only had a platonic relationship with science so far. What Study Hall is aiming to do is infuse the industry with important knowledge to accelerate the actions needed to achieve a reduction of 30% of carbon emissions by 2030, leading up to zero carbon emissions by 2050.” This feat is surely only achievable by bringing together science-based facts and the powerful voice of fashion. The Climate Positivity At Scale Conference is set to start a new chapter in the partnership that will facilitate this action.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a sustainability and fashion tech journalist, innovator and public speaker with several years of experience working across this growing sector. I am also Director of the innovation agency BRIA, where we create materials-tech collaborations and sustainability innovations with brands from both the fashion and technology sectors, directly combining my knowledge of the latest developments in fashion tech with my cross-discipline approach to developing new materials. As one of few specialists with career experience of working in the fields of both science and design, as well as previously running a fashion brand, I use my expertise to write about the new emerging sector of fashion tech, along with the advances which will drive sustainability in the fashion industry. I have written for a number of publications, including HuffPost and my own platform, Techstyler, and have been invited to speak about fashion tech at numerous conferences and events, including delivering a TED talk.

Source: Scientists, Designers And Activists Collaborate To Tackle Fashion’s Biggest Problem

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Is Digitization The Savior Of The Fashion Industry?

Digital Fashion

Digital transformation of fashion design and manufacturing is viewed as both an opportunity and a threat, depending on who you ask. The perceived threats include job security, creativity, and loss of the “human touch” in fashion design and garment-making. The opportunities span time and cost savings, vast and swift sustainability gains (including removing textile waste and reducing the need for dyeing, water use and the carbon emissions generated by physical sampling) and the ability to manufacture small quantities of products profitably.

Other creative industries, such as gaming and film, have adopted digital tools and subsequently platforms that link design, the beating heart of all the products created for human consumption, with every other person and process necessary to bring that design to life (whether that be on a screen or in physical form). It follows that these industries have therefore provided a blueprint for the digitization of fashion—or have they?

To put this debate into the current context, the sustainability pressures facing the fashion industry point to digital transformation being necessary, rather than optional. The rising cost of raw materials as the planet’s resources dwindle, the carbon and financial costs of manual garment sampling and shipping back and forth from manufacturers in Asia to Europe and the U.S., and the switch from two seasons per year to monthly (or weekly) product launches to keep up with social media trends, mean that the only way to meet global consumer demand is to digitize and streamline manual processes. Indeed, the question seems to be how can the industry progress in a manner that is sustainable, ethical and profitable without digitalization?

To draw parallels and find out what fashion can learn from the gaming and film industries, I spoke to Remo Gettini, a serial innovator who is ex-Dreamworks, and DWA NOVA, and now the CTO of the human-centric app-based community of 16 million buyers and sellers of fashion, Depop. What is holding fashion back? Why has digital transformation been so slow? What steps should the industry take to transform expensive, slow, manual, unethical, unfair and unsustainable practices into processes fit for today’s consumers, who want a paradox of constant newness (often personalized) within the planetary bounds?

As CTO at DWA NOVA, Gettini worked with brands ranging from Tommy Hilfiger to Nike and Burberry to navigate the digital landscape and define and implement digital solutions for product design, development and merchandising. “The fashion industry has the opportunity to increase its creativity way beyond what it can currently imagine,” says Gettini. What it lacks is access to human-centric technologies fit for the creative nuances and ephemerality of fashion design. “How do you express the value of a Burberry scarf in a 3D render?” asked Gettini. This is a tough question and one that is being asked by fashion brands, too.

Why has 3D digital design fallen so far short for fashion, I asked? The answer, according to Gettini, having spent decades orchestrating digital transformation as a solutions architect, technical director, and CTO, is that digital design has been borne out of engineering and is based on CAD/CAM solutions, which are “not creative or intuitive in a way that empowers designers.” His view is that the solutions on the market right now, CLO3D (one of the newest CAD solutions for fashion) included, are driven by technical specifications that still do not bridge the gap between creative design and product creation.

The width of this gap is astonishing if you think about the current turnover of styles and speed of fashion, paired with dwindling order volumes as e-commerce has ushered in a shorter shelf-life for styles that are driven by fleeting Instagram trends. This is a phenomenon Depop knows only too well as they provide a seamless platform that integrates social-media trends, e-commerce, and online communities.

The second barrier, he believes, is that solutions providers approach fashion like it was any other industry. They present the same tools to fashion as they do to automotive, aerospace and architecture. “This just won’t work with fashion,” he says. “Fashion needs a platform that plugs creative design into the supply chain painlessly and without designers having to change the way they work. This is fundamental. Designers should not be asked to drop their manual design and illustration techniques in favor of a mouse and keyboard.” To Gettini’s mind, this is where digital transformation “falls at the first hurdle.” So what is the solution?

Reflecting on the strategy of digital transformation at Dreamworks, he explained that they gave designers a tablet and pen so that whatever they drew was digitized—the action was the same, but the options for color, texture, and effects were greater. They expanded the designers’ toolkit, rather than changing it. This unleashed their creativity and the rest of the digital solutions were built around translating these digital sketches into products that could be manufactured via CAD/CAM solutions, seamlessly.

He stressed throughout our conversation that the technology “needs to disappear” and leave only the impression that the work is easier, better and more creative. “Human-centricity is the key to digital success.” In fact, at Depop, the users never talk about the app. They talk about “the experience, the friends they make, the communities they join, the clothes they buy—never the technology,” says Gettini.

What else would Gettini do to fast-track digital transformation in fashion? From a C-level perspective, he would hire new talent graduating from fashion colleges with 3D design skills and an appetite for creative digital design in place of traditional methods of fashion design. He would place these new recruits with the current crop of designers and task them with developing the next collections collaboratively, to leverage both approaches. Fundamental here is the integration of digital design in the actual design and development of products, rather than as an isolated “project.” “

There is no point running a separate pilot to dip your toe in—digital-native designers need to be introduced into the process as part of the business, not as an experiment,” he says. This triggers memories of views shared with me by digital designers working in siloed departments at global brands, who express frustration that digital solutions are adopted within their departments, but do not influence or integrate with other departments, or the supply chain. The very “project” approach that Gettini warns against is a common approach, it seems.

So what does the digitization of fashion design mean for the future of Depop? Depop currently has 16 million buyers and sellers of fashion on its app (the tip of the iceberg, according to Gettini), and in all likelihood, they have the next generation of fashion designers on their platform, too. What would happen if the Depop community could create and share digital fashion designs for crowd-vetting, that are connected to digital manufacturing facilities allowing production on demand, to the quantity determined by the seller (and demanded by the Depop community)—a kind of “Unity for fashion,” as Gettini calls it? This is something that Depop is currently looking into as a possible evolution of their fashion platform. This example further illustrates how 3D digital design has the power to provide fashion-on-demand in a more sustainable manner than the current model of overproduction and inevitable deadstock creation.

During a recent conversation with Kees Jacobs, head of insights and data, global sector consumer products and retail at consultancy firm Capgemini, he explained that in the past decade, digital fashion solutions have been prioritized in consumer-facing domains (website, mobile, in-store experiences) where tech solutions can increase customer engagement and facilitate customer services. On the subject of 3D digital design adoption, his experience has demonstrated that “the urgency to do this is less. The top line (for digital solutions) is retail.”

He went on to state that “we see a big shift happening with digital twins of consumer and products and where the two meet.” Regarding the top two investments fashion retailers should make that promise good ROI, the first was data analytics solutions, and the second area was “consumer engagement and the digital avatar (to allow) the use of CGI to be able to have digital experiences around the products.” Who should retailers look to for these solutions, I asked? Capgemini is working with large players (including Microsoft) and a number of smaller, highly specialized startups to deliver on digital avatars, products, and experiences.

It seems that a potential future direction for the fashion industry is implementing digitized fashion illustration at the first stage of design to connect to 3D CAD/CAM software and equipment for on-demand manufacturing, then eventually the digital product presentation tools at the consumer end. Of course, this is dependent on 3D design tools being adopted by designers and brands, which still proves to be a challenge, based on the views of Gettini and a number of designers I have spoken to at global brands. The challenge is largely due to the technical nature of the interfaces currently on offer to fashion designers via 3D design software.

In addition, the preference for hand-drawing and painstaking manual design techniques still dominates amongst senior designers and creative directors (for whom the design and development processes are often structured to accommodate). Indeed, 3D digital design is still notably absent from the curriculums of top fashion colleges, with many 3D digital designers being self-taught (or from a gaming or film background). The fashion design students I have spoken to who are exploring 3D digital design are learning from online tutorials and forums in place of being taught formally at university. If a “Unity for fashion” does emerge, a new generation of fashion designers who buck the tradition of a fashion college education may yet define, and design, the fashion of our future.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a sustainability and fashion tech journalist, innovator and public speaker with several years of experience working across this growing sector. I am also Director of the innovation agency BRIA, where we create materials-tech collaborations and sustainability innovations with brands from both the fashion and technology sectors, directly combining my knowledge of the latest developments in fashion tech with my cross-discipline approach to developing new materials. As one of few specialists with career experience of working in the fields of both science and design, as well as previously running a fashion brand, I use my expertise to write about the new emerging sector of fashion tech, along with the advances which will drive sustainability in the fashion industry. I have written for a number of publications, including HuffPost and my own platform, Techstyler, and have been invited to speak about fashion tech at numerous conferences and events, including delivering a TED talk.

Source: Is Digitization The Savior Of The Fashion Industry?

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