Imagine taking a dress from an on-screen design to being ready to ship in 25 minutes. Meet the collaboration making that happen.
What’s being described as the “world’s most” sustainable garment micro-factory is a North London garment manufacturing centre creating apparel on demand, in a single location, at speed, all the while minimising waste.
Could this be the future of fashion’s quest to be more sustainable through improvements including shorter supply chains, less waste, and more efficient technology?
The collaboration between global digital printing company Kornit Digital and garment manufacturing social enterprise, Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) makes us believe it is. Their vision for the modern fashion industry is showcased in their Fashtech Innovation Centre, where technology and ethical manufacturing meet in a single space.
The ‘Direct to Fabric Micro Factory’ highlights Fashion-Enter’s work as a garment manufacturing centre, offering tools and knowledge for fashion professionals. While Kornit Digital’s technical savvy complements the future-forward approach through digital printing machines and software development.
The “from pixel to parcel” concept means that a virtual design on screen can be turned into a physical product through printing and can be ready for packaging in under 30 minutes.
CLEANING UP FASHION
The fashion industry’s waste problems are a poorly kept secret today. Washing, solvents, and dyes used in manufacturing are responsible for one-fifth of industrial water pollution, according to a 2020 report by McKinsey. Meanwhile, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated that the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year.
Kornit Digital’s direct-to-fabric and direct-to-garment machinery, now based at Fashion-Enter’s headquarters, removes harmful chemicals, uses 95% less water, 94% less energy and produces nearly 83% less greenhouse gas emissions, according to Kornit’s statistics.
Fashion-Enter's CEO Jenny Holloway, speaking at the collaboration’s event launch, said that “traditional fashion is dead” and the digital age is already here, ideas that align with Fashion-Enter’s vision of making the industry more ethical and sustainable.
Holloway founded the award-winning not for profit social enterprise 17 years ago, creating a centre for ethical garment manufacturing, focused on development and education within the textile and fashion industry through production, grading and sampling. Clients include ASOS and brands such as Brora and Matthew Williamson.
The collaboration between Fashion-Enter and Kornit Digital allows designers to create virtual designs, press a button, and print out the fabric to start work on the sample straight away. The benefits are broad, from reducing waste by eliminating the need to re-start samples when changes are made to the cut-out version, to changing the way designers approach their creative process by giving them the opportunity to print on previous designs to create new work, for example.
Holloway is proud of the fact Fashion-Enter is now home to the UK’s only ‘on-demand’ sustainable service and rather than keeping the IP shrouded in secrecy, the vision is to actively encourage industry professionals, as well as large brands and retailers, to use the facilities for their own designs and to experiment with the technology.
Future steps include replicating the micro-factory model in other parts of the UK, and Holloway is confident that as the system benefits become more widely understood by fashion professionals, it can grow to become an industry norm.
A founding principle of Kornit Digital’s work is to “create only what you truly desire and waste nothing”. Together with Fashion-Enter they are ready to make that an industry reality.