At the close of last month, Mark Harrop of WhichPLM was invited to present to the Northern Clothing & Textile Network. In attendance was Sally Smallwood, Chief Wreckreator of WRECKREATION – a label based in the North East of England. Here, Sally shares her experience with us.
I predominantly create men’s and womenswear in-house, to order, at the higher end of the market, as a means to inspire people to live their truth through our integrated philosophy of being a creator; not the created. Driven by the desire for social change, my focus is on the individual, so limited quantities are produced of bespoke, long-lasting and hardwearing garments.
Working with clients and taking individual measurements has its challenges, especially when they are overseas. However I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation that would change my whole perspective on this. I am a member of the Northern Clothing & Textile Network and, thanks to its Chair, David Reay, we were invited to a talk by Mark Harrop, CEO of WhichPLM.
This is my personal account.
Mark discussed digital transformation within the fashion sector and explained a new, disruptive, digital-driven fashion model where customisation and personalisation prevail. He stated that, now and in the future, customers want products that have been designed specifically to meet their wishes, and that fit based upon their own unique dimensions. Individual, creative designs and tailor-made garments will become the new norm, driven by new technologies that will all become connected in an infinite digital loop.
The whole talk was inspiring but this was even more exciting for me as my signature garment, The SuperCharger Jeans, is custom-made and can be personalised. With a customer-centric experience at the forefront, these jeans are numbered and registered when purchased. This enables the client to exchange them for another pair in the future at a lower rate and we can then sell the previously owned pair at a lower, more accessible price point, meaning they are always in circulation.
Although they have been featured in music videos and British GQ, this does have its limits in that we are currently unable to offer this custom-made service overseas or reach our audience worldwide.
In further discussions with Mark, he shared developments in 3D body scanning, with accurate measurements, accessible from a smart phone, connected to a whole world of smart software, which was all new to me and inspirational to say the least.
This powerful, integrated design software will most definitely revolutionize the current fashion industry. I know my productivity would be dramatically enhanced.
To begin with, 3D body scanning would eradicate the need for client fittings which are, generally speaking, logistically challenging. For me, due to my present studio location, multiple journeys are inevitable and time-consuming. This ground-breaking software would allow a global audience access to custom-made garments which, as a designer, is game-changing. It would play a vital role in driving competitiveness not only globally, but also in the online marketplace.
Mark and I also discussed 2D and 3D integrated pattern design software. One of the challenges I face when developing new garments, again, is the time it takes to get from concept to actualisation – through pattern drafting, pattern cutting, grading and toile development: the gruelling design development process. This software would help to eliminate the hours of manual labour by maximizing accuracy and freeing up, I can only imagine, an ineffable amount of time. And that, in my eyes, is revolutionary. Garments will be faster to market without compromising the design and that time could be spent designing or working on new collaborations. The possibilities are endless really. Not only this, but it will cut costs, which can then be passed on to the customer.
Additionally, Mark explained how all of this would make a far greater positive impact on the environment, with reduced material waste. The most astonishing thing is that this isn’t a concept of the future; this technology exists now.
Being able to apply my strong brand values, based around the individual, throughout all aspects of my work has allowed me to move away from conventional industry practises and to be a pioneer in the cohesion of technology and fashion. For example: my collaboration with The Centre for Process Innovation, where we used printed LED light strips and inserted them around panels in the SuperCharger Jeans, so they could light up at the command of the wearer.
I believe in order to grow in business and as people, we must continuously evolve, always moving forward, being open to new concepts and embracing change. Which is why I met with Mark to discuss the possibilities around pioneering such technologies. Overall, these smart, innovative technologies will allow for sustainable growth and a significant commercial advantage by replacing what will soon be archaic, manual processes, into fully streamlined digital solutions.
My aspiration has always been to create something that would make a difference and have a positive, lasting impact. Now through the use of these trailblazing technologies, I believe this is possible. Suffice to say, I am very excited to what the next steps will bring.