The Next Decade of Digital Sampling
16 January 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
It’s safe to say we’re heading into our new decade extremely ‘conscious’. We’re conscious of what we buy, how much and where from. This is now also extending to the way brands can assemble, produce and market a product, with many industry professionals citing traditional sampling methods being both frustratingly slow and costly. With technology continuing to adapt and evolve at lightning speed, is there now a suitable sampling alternative on the horizon?
What new possibilities are there?
Samples themselves provide an incredible essential opportunity for a company to analyse what is working before putting their chosen designs into production. There tend to be multiple stages to this process, leading many brands to look to find new alternatives to traditional sampling methods in an effort to reduce lead times, waste and simplify the process as a whole. Developing technology such as 3D design, printing and virtual reality could now allow such sampling to take place digitally, having potential positive success rates on being able to deliver the best quality product possible. Digital sampling has the potential for production to take place from a first pattern, inspiring improved efficiency. Particularly in ‘fast fashion’ environments, there is now a real pressing need to source processes that can provide a ‘need for speed’, be cost saving and harness the growing rise in data-driven practices. However, there are still kinks along the way that need to be worked out, with maintaining satisfactory fit and construction still proving a challenge.
Why should industry not rule digital sampling out?
Perhaps it is because of these issues that many industry professionals are slow or hesitant to embrace digital sampling wholeheartedly. Despite the current challenges the process faces, the possibilities it can provide cannot be ignored. The growth of digital sampling is matching that of digital showrooms, meaning in wholesale terms, the current trade show as we know it may become completely obsolete and unnecessary – something many people are already seeming to avoid and heavily critique. There is also the possibility for purchases to be making before a product has even been put into production. Companies are trialling algorithms which allows shoppers to pay less when a garment is at a ‘pre-order’ or ‘pre-production’ stage in order to minimise production and stock-keeping. Others are looking to accurately communicate aesthetic characteristics of fabrics through virtual vibrations, using sound waves to transmit a certain sensation through the air. There is historically a tendency to over-sample within the industry, producing a lot of unnecessary wastage with sample products not being bought. Many feel there is now a large need to champion a form of change, reducing the effects of traditional sampling without having to compromise. With this technology predicted to be commonplace within the next five years, digital sampling is still taking baby steps forward. They offer a real opportunity to reduce time and waste, with more retailers exploring complete digitalisation before the risk of being left behind.
Photo source: https://www.clo3d.com/