How the digital transformation is changing the textile industry, what are the greatest challenges for our companies and fashion designers, how to deal with pressure, as well as how to make some savings and at the same time act globally – these were some of the topics discussed at the second panel as part of the three-day conference Skills4Future Week, organized by UNDP, on the digital transformation of the textile industry and 3D modelling.
The panel on 3D design and transformation of the fashion industry presented how clothing is designed with the aid of 3D software and how it is done in the traditional way. The benefits of the digital transformation in the textile industry were demonstrated in practice.
Nikola Bulevski, fashion designer and trainer for the 3D design trainings at the SkillsNext Centre in Tetovo, said that he is delighted to have to opportunity to train young people with the aid of this software. The trainings were attended by more than 100 young people so far and the interest is huge.
-It is a great challenge to work with the software. Having in mind the skepticism which prevails in the country for everything new, it is quite scary and it might devour us. The most demanded professions in the textile industry are those with low education and whenever people think of the textile industry, they think that we only need seamstresses. However, with this software we are trying to train people who will add value to the product – Buleski said.
He stressed that seamstresses are needed, but the goal is to create human resources that would provide something new.
-Nobody should be afraid for their job; what’s more, more seamstresses will be needed if we create a new product that we can sell abroad. If for a new product you spend 380 euros with the traditional method, because you make one prototype which is then changed, with the 3D software the entire process is done on an avatar and costs around 140 euros. With the use if such technologies the industry can save a lot of money and resources and reduce waste.
Buleski also said that a serious problem is what the trainees will do after, however together with the Centre they plan to provide the best students with opportunities to work on real projects and then present them to the industry.
Gere Tripkov, founder of ZEN, the first brand for persons with disabilities, said that he came up with the idea for this project a long time ago, but it was maturing in his mind for 35 years. He explained the challenges they are facing.
-When we designed the first T-shirt under the ZEN label, meant to be sold and help persons with disabilities, we realized that the textile plants here do not work on their own products and are fully focused on export. I found it astonishing, because there is a branch here with a huge potential that is not adequately used – Tripkov said.
The ZEN fashion line is primarily, but not exclusively meant for persons with disabilities. The clothes they design make it easier for persons with disabilities to get dressed and halves the time it takes them to get ready. Tripkov stressed that the clothes will be made of recycled materials and will be sewn in Macedonia. At first they plan small-scale production to test the market.
Irina Toseva, fashion designer and recipient of the 2019 award “Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals”, explained what the principle of sustainability means in the fashion industry.
-It is important that you are careful who you buy from and what you wear. Sustainability is an extensive topic, but I am glad that people have started talking about it here. Sustainability means how in a traditional system we should try to reduce bad practices, the damage it causes Earth, its workers, while circularity is how to completely change this system and make a new one where the same resources will be used the entire time, in a circle – she said.
Toseva added that an increasing number of designers here are trying to work sustainably and that there are more clients who are also aware of this issue. She explained that sustainability also means using materials with specific certificates, confirming that all those working on that particular item are fairly paid, that the product is organic and cannot cause skin irritation, as well as that the dyes used will not harm the environment and are non-toxic.
She believes that the future lies in such sustainable, circular and green brands.
Jasmina Lazovska, manager of the Stip-based company Vera Mond, which works with 3D software for modelling, explained the motivation to enter the world of innovative technology in the textile industry. She said that she first heard about this method of modelling in 2020 at an event as part of the Skills4Future project.
-I practically inherited a company that has been working successfully for 25 years in lohn production, as are 95 percent of the textile companies in Macedonia. Unfortunately, typical for these companies is that they employ low qualified workforce which creates low added value, which in turn is lowly valued and brings low average salaries. This was the reason why I left the textile industry in 2017, even though I inherited the company. But in late 2020 I learned about 3D fashion design and it brought me back. I learned that for a company to live it needs to hire young staff. And the average age of the employees in the textile industry is 50. But to hire young staff we need to offer new technologies, in line with the new times we live in. That is how I realized that this was my new goal – Lazovska said.
Together with a mentor they developed a strategy for the company’s digital transformation which began in January. This innovation was recognized by the Fund for innovations, which supported them to develop new products. They constantly educate their staff and also hired young people to work for them.
-This not only shortens the process of developing a product and saves funds, but also the communication with clients takes place in seconds, while the local market turns into a global one – Lazovska said.
The three-day Skills4Future Week, organized by UNDP, started yesterday as part of the project Bridging the Skills Gap to Create New and Better Jobs, supported by the British Embassy in Skopje.