Customised wearable functionality and eco-materials – Extending the limits of apparel mass customisation

Ecology and wearable functionality in garments can co‐exist. Add this up to a consumer‐centered business scenario, where you will be able to configure your wished sensors or monitoring devices, and also the degree of eco‐friendliness of your outfits and enjoy smart, natural and healthy garments.

It may appear at first sight that the two main ideas of the Micro-Dress project (eco‐friendliness and wearable functionality) are somehow contradictory, or at least not converging. However the Micro-Dress project’s work was targeted on proving that ecology and wearable functionality can co‐exist. This becomes even more interesting in a user‐centered business scenario, where the customer is directly involved in the design/configuration process, empowered by the freedom to configure both the technology related added value (user selectable sensors, actuators, physiology monitoring devices), as well as the degree of eco‐friendliness of his/her outfits (natural and healthy garments, preserving the environment and energy resources).

In order to reach the consumers, the Micro-Dress offer was investigated through two distinct models of companies offering customised garments: ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA international brand with vertical integration of its production and also the evolution of the traditional tailor, the so-called Micro-Factory, offering to the consumers customised garments, in an easy and affordable manner.

Addressing the business challenge: Mass Customisation companies will need to address certain production challenges in order to be able to provide consumer-selected ecological and smart outfits. These challenges were investigated through the Micro-Dress project and the research led to the following results:

  • Rapid manufacturing techniques for printing directly to the selected eco-fabrics the wished micro-electronics components
  • Software tools for eco-certification of the fabrics that could be used by the companies to evaluate the eco-profile of their suppliers and also give their customers the opportunity to select the ecology degree of the fabrics they desire for their outfits
  • Software tools to calculate and manage the CO2 emissions related to the production of the fabrics
  • A portable and rapid test that allowed the garment manufacturers to evaluate on site the chemical composition of the fabrics they will be supplied for their production. This test could be also used for showing to customers the ecological degree of the fabrics they have selected for the manufacturing of their outfits
  • A supply chain management model to address all the different aspects of supplying and integrating e-devices into the production of customised garments. This model was made available to the companies through a web application in the form of an e-Supply Chain Management platform, offered to the companies in the pay-as-you-go model, known as Software-as-a-Service.
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