Contributors: Luca Sburlati
Luca Sburlati, CEO Pattern SPA
MU32: the interviews to sector’s opinion leaders talking about key topics for the industry
"Technological artisans will be the champions of true sustainability"
In this year of profound changes, how much did digital technology facilitate and support your business development activities? And to what extent did it hinder it?
Digital technology simply supported activities that, up to that point, had been carried out physically.
This is particularly true for pre-collection prototyping and fashion shows, thanks to the development of 3D design.
In fact, 3D design has now become a real business line in Pattern Making, a huge leap forward in terms of research and development accomplished in just a few months.
How can digital technology accompany and support creativity?
Digital technology can have a significant positive impact on garment engineering, that is, just after the creativity and design phases.
Engineering can benefit from the use of advanced pattern-making technologies by accelerating the process of developing the first prototypes, while eliminating or reducing physical prototype handling.
While engineering can be supported by digital technology, the preceding creative phase remains the sole domain of individuals.
In your opinion, in what area did technology really change the fashion supply chain? Which is the business area that could be most constrained by digitalisation?
It is clear that technology has clearly changed the purchasing process of luxury products by the end customers, leading to a disintermediation in the brand-customer relationship.
The possibility given by digital technology to speak directly to customers has in fact allowed many brands to move away from the logic of fashion show calendars and fashion weeks, creating an ongoing and direct relationship with their own community of customers and followers.
From this perspective, it is likely that all fashion intermediation jobs will change skin quickly, if they are not to disappear.
Can technology be a lever for generating new sustainable behavior?
Behavior can be supported through information given in real time and related to the whole supply chain process.
Explaining to the end customer the origin of the materials, where they have been processed and the 'efforts' made through measurable procedures is no longer just an opportunity, but, in my opinion, a duty for all those involved in the supply chain.
Do you think that digitilization can become an ally of sustainability and facilitate its processes?
Definitely. Even if we just look at our sector, technology allows us to design items with minimal waste and material left over. On top of that, the support in the engineering phase allows us to minimize the physical handling and costs involved in the design phase.
Technology alone cannot trigger change nor widespread growth. Craftsmanship as a source of tradition, research as a source of innovation, as well as skills and training to be passed down, are the real assets to be preserved. Is it correct to say that these values are key in determining sustainable behavior and therefore inseparable from real relationships?
The dissemination of the values of craftsmanship and know-how is of the essence in our industry
The dissemination of the values of craftsmanship and know-how is of the essence in our industry, as it preserves the Italian 'know-how', which technology can never match.
However, it is clear that these values must be combined with process innovation in order to produce a virtuous and effective combined effect.
Technological artisans will be the champions of true sustainability.
The challenge for our companies today is to move away from the concept of 'sustainability storytelling’ to becoming truly ESG companies, which means knowing how to measure sustainability, making plans for improvement and investing.
How did you manage digital trade shows and events?
They were certainly a way of maintaining the necessary contacts in a moment of crisis.
However, the physical phase, so important for a product like ours, which, in the end, is manufactured by and lives on physical traits, is sorely missing.
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