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As we proceed into our fifth year of the Gerber Technology Student FashionTech Competition, I want to take a moment to highlight what makes this competition truly shine: the students. This competition would be nothing without their dedication and creativity. Starting from the new year, we ask a lot of our student designers. From concept to completion, the students are challenged not only to provide a unique and well constructed garment, but any number of other tasks: sketches and design outlines, AccuMark pattern data, YuniquePLM tech packs, and social media updates. Every year, we are astounded by the industry of these students on display; all of this is achieved in addition to their busy school and personal lives!

Innovation is a buzz word for as long as I have been in the Textile CAD industry. Universally it can be a company’s search for sustainability, cost savings, faster production or shorter time to market. Innovation affects a company’s bottom line, public perception as well as the quality of their product.

Developing CAD software has dropped Pointcarre right in the middle of that equation. We are constantly approached by clients looking to push the envelope and do better in many ways. Innovation is viewed as ways to make their product more attractive to their customer and gain new customers, but at the same time to make a positive impact on the world. Pointcarre allows clients to discover new ways to produce their product with less chemicals, better uses and develop new ways to knit, weave and digital print their product. Pointcarre's most recent innovation has come in the form of digital printing. This alone can save millions of gallons of water from traditional printing processes. Smart Tailoring, another innovation, is a new term for just weaving, knitting or printing only what’s needed for the specific individual garment. Pointcarre's seamless integration with YuniquePLM makes that process even easier. 

A boss once decided to challenge me. He asked me to create a process for creativity. He wanted me to find a way to make innovation repeatable and predictable. My first thought was that innovation requires creativity, and that's unpredictable by definition.

I became pretty frustrated at the business minded approach to optimizing innovation. If you want to make innovation repeatable, it’s not about specific steps you can take. It’s more of a matter of attitude. It’s what happens when the right product meets the right people at the right time. It’s understanding all of the moving parts that come into play to make that idea a reality. Then a sudden and ironic burst of spontaneous creativity came to me. While innovation might not be a process, I realized that there is a formula to it that anyone can use:

Innovation = f(passion * velocity * creativity * some array of variables) ^ risk

Initially, when I thought about fashion technology, I immediately feared that some cold, unfeeling algorithm was going to take away the need for a fashion designer like me. It would take all of the heart and soul out of the creative process and reduce it to a series of events most likely to occur at check out – completed purchase for one blue shirt, size medium, long sleeve, button front. As designers, we do this as designing to metrics, but then there’s room for interpretation and freedom of expression. What’s more, there is the human emotion, the gut check that signals the way to the next best trend, not simply a rehash and remix of your previous choices. Technology where it has its benefits, may not signal the way to true innovation – or does it?

Digital transformation is not about IT or technology. It is much more than applying technology to your current business operations. It is about redefining your entire business strategy, your company culture and creating new business models that leverage data and technology. Companies striving to succeed in today’s digital world should think of technology as a strategic competency, not as a support function. It is crucial for every business to adapt and take advantage of the ways the digital world has radically changed consumer behavior and expectations.

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