Interview with EFI Optitex

GAF: Please tell us briefly about your professional background.

Jan: I have 10+ years in the Textile & Apparel Industries, and a great understanding of the whole supply chain from design to production to store. My work experience includes companies such as IDEAL Fastener, Avery Dennison & Lectra. I recently joined EFI Optitex one year ago and am heading the sales team in APAC.

GAF: Working closely with Fashion, Apparel and Textiles industries for so many years, how does EFI Optitex associate itself with these industries, today?

Jan: EFI Optitex solutions enable leading brands, retailers and manufacturers to set new standards for time-to-market, on-demand manufacturing, cost efficiency and automation.

At EFI Optitex, we are 100% committed to being in the frontline of technology. This includes constant innovation, full lifecycle customer support, and a passionate belief that inspiration is everywhere. Over 7,000 companies are using Optitex solutions to save time and costs at every step in the textile industry workflow – while keeping up with today’s fast changing market.

GAF: What makes EFI Optitex’s services and products to stand apart?

Jan: EFI Optitex software is the world’s leading provider of a single-integrated 2D/3D platform that enables to quickly create true-to-life 3D digital garments, while empowering apparel and soft goods companies to revolutionize the way they develop, produce, and market their products.

GAF: For markets with and without technological know-how, what strategies help EFI Optitex make headway in both?

Jan: Our solutions save time and costs at every step in the textile industry workflow.

GAF: CAD/CAM capabilities have emerged from being standalone business processes to become an integrated part of the entire supply chain. What other key trends do you see in technology adaptation and business processes to be evolving in coming decade?

Jan: A new shift is beginning in the fashion & apparel industry, where speed is no longer just an advantage – it’s a requirement for survival. Production cycles have shrunk from months into weeks, as brands are trying to get from concept to shelf even faster than before.

However, speed isn’t just about shortening concept to shelf. It’s also about efficiency, earlier validation & creating better products. Shrinking production cycles is just one part of the key to success.

As the technology improves and adoption for 3D grows, we are seeing more brands and retailers go digital. If a business wants to keep up with the fast-fashion world, they need to step into the digital realm. “Going digital” doesn’t mean changing your whole business structure, but to understand its impact to improve speed and quality, maximize revenues, create the right products for consumers and maintain an innovative and competitive edge.

Technology will be used more and more to interact and engage with the consumer. There will be a push for omni-channel retailing to connect offline and online, including increased personalization and more immersive shopping experiences.

As consumers want to be more aware of where and how their goods are being made, the industry need to adapt their business strategies to be more natural and environmentally friendly. In some cases, this is shifting to more responsible, green suppliers, such as using natural dyes or better utilization of fabric materials. In other cases, companies are seeking more digital or smart manufacturing options to be more sustainable.

Smart use of big data will bring success. Knowing how to utilize the wealth of information and data is key to building new profitable strategies. For example, smart data can analyze what trends are popular with consumers, and instantly provide feedback to the whole supply chain.

GAF: How can Computer Aided Designing (CAD) solutions enhance product development and production process integration for the textile and clothing industry?

Jan: We see a combination of operational and strategic motives driving businesses of all different sizes to adopt CAD solutions.

One of the biggest benefits on the operational side is time saved. It’s about saving time and costs associated to product development, particularly related to proto and fit samples, by reducing the number of physical samples needed. Technology also closes the gap between distances making it much easier for decision makers to see virtual designs and make decisions fast and more effectively. You can speed up collection reviews between a brand’s merchandising, design and product development teams, and between the brands and their vendors. In other cases, it can even extend to the sales and marketing process, by reducing costs and time associated with salesman samples, changing the experience of buyers in the showroom, improving store merchandise planning, and even photo shoots.

On a strategic level, companies are driven to adopt 3D with the goal to deliver the best possible product to their customers. Virtual sampling gives merchandisers and designers more color and design options to select from without impacting time and cost of delivery. You can present 3D samples in any meeting, even without a physical sample, in all colorways. The decision making is happening much faster and the quality of the product is better as you visualize a true-to-life garment, all months earlier than brands could have done before. In other cases, the motivation stems from a desire to be innovative and leaders in the industry, with forward-thinking technology and a vision of a future that includes consumers interacting with 3D samples, whether online or in-store.

Regardless of the initial driver for adopting 3D, the bottom line for all the brands and retailers we work with, is that where it starts is never where it ends. Within a relatively short period of getting started, they see additional uses and benefits of 3D for their whole workflow, and implement them from concept all the way to the in-store experience.

GAF:  What is your say for the evolution in the global apparel manufacturing over the years?

Jan: Digital Transformation is the key in my point of view.

To stay competitive, lots of manufacturers have started to adopt the most advanced technologies, (e.g. auto-cutter, spreading, semi-auto sewing machine, etc), new production methods, and lean manufacturing. After that, would transform from OEM to OEM+ODM. Then, what is next?

Migrating manufacturing to countries with lower labor costs will continue. Today, factories are migrated from US to China, from China to Vietnam, Bangladesh or India, while now is talking about Ethiopia, so where is the next country?

In the past few years, Industrial 4.0, Big Data, Automation, Lean, or “made in China 2025” are the hottest topics globally. All these trends are related to “data”, and these “data” would have to be managed in a digital way. ERP has become a MUST for production while PLM is getting hot in the market. And, before the implementation of ERP, all the production data will have to be in digital. Same for PLM, all the Product Development related data will have to be in digital as well. 3D Prototyping technology is definitely the key.

3D Prototyping technology is to create true-to-life digital samples that can be leveraged from design and development all the way to sales and marketing. It can reduce a huge number of physical samples in the development stage, in other words, save time and money.

By transforming the product development workflow to digital, with creating 3D photorealistic images, approval decision can be made faster (sometimes even with 1 or without physical samples) and actually more samples, more styles or colors, are visualized.

In the coming years, AR/VR, AI, Customization would be the key word while all these are based on digital world, especially 3D is the fundamental of AR/VR.

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