Sewbots? 3D printing? Get ready for the new machines of fashion production, according to a Fashion Group International of Los Angeles panel.
Last week, FGILA produced a panel which focused on technological change on the horizon, specifically 3D printing during the March 14 panel discussion “Fashion Technology Innovation, Challenges and New Frontiers,” It took place at the CTRL Collective, a comfortable, art library-like, shared workspace office in downtown Los Angeles’ Fashion District.
Architects Julia Körner and Jenny Wu spoke on how they make clothes and jewelry with the help of 3D printers, or printers that can produce 3-dimensional items such as a wearable jacket or a necklace. These printers are equipped with ink jets which produce materials such as nylon to make the wearable items.
While technology of 3D printing is in its infancy, panelists forecasted that this printing and other upcoming technologies could shake up the way clothes are made. Eventually, most clothes could be produced by robots and machines like printers, not by humans.
When the panel was asked how these technological changes will affect the labor market, the panelists did not forecast dystopia. Instead they imagined sewing factories packed with “sewbots” sewing clothes. These machines might revive and propel domestic production, said Pat Trautman, an apparel production guru and president of Connecticut-based Global Garment Engineering. “In this country, we don’t have anybody that wants to sew. That’s why we need sewbots, to have a competitive advantage over foreign production” she said.
Irina Palmer, a technical designer for the Kendall + Kylie clothing brand, forecast that there was still a place for humans on the shop floor. “We need people to monitor the machines,” she said.
The panel's moderator, Nancy L. McCullough, said the fashion industry will hear more on new ways to automate its business. “FGILA was proud to feature our four eloquent panelists for a thought-provoking, forward-thinking panel on the future in innovative solutions to accelerate and transform production in the apparel industry,” McCullough said. She also works as an attorney for Law Offices of Nancy L. McCullough. “The future is already at our thresholds. The challenge for modern designers and manufacturers is stark and clear: embrace the future, or get left in the past.”