Sweden: Fashion accelerating into something new
June 13, 2023

Swedish fashion and textile industry is already preparing for future challenges and opportunities. One of the more important aspects are how to use new technology and innovations. To build a more sustainable business of the future.

In the summer of 2022, the Swedish Fashion Council (SFC) released its first edition of the white paper Fashion Transformation. The paper focuses on several things, including trends within macro economics, consumer behaviour, the growing second-hand market, the increase of circular business models, and the importance of diversity. But there is also an interesting part on future technology, including the fourth industrial revolution, the rise of digital fashion and Web 3. This article focuses on the takeaways on future tech within our business.

Expected tech investments
The fashion industry’s technology investments have so far mainly been in e-commerce. Now the industry expects more to happen on digitalisation of internal processes, the operations. The investments are predicted to be more diverse, aiming at expanding and optimising business, profitability, and cash flow.
Global fashion companies are predicted to at least double their investments in technology. From 1.6 – 1.8 per cent of revenue 2021, to somewhere between 3 and 3.5 per cent by 2030.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI and machine learning will continuously be developed among the companies and other stakeholders in fashion. The wish is to create decision-making support, regarding customer demand and pricing. Such automated processes will in its turn have a big impact on, for example, garments reuse and recycling.

Four aspects of new fashion tech
It is predicted that the fashion industry’s investments in technology will mainly focus on three areas:

  1. value chains (also end-to-end value chain management)
  2. personalisation
  3. shop technology
    Apart from those three there are (and will be) major investments within
  4. new production technologies within Industry 4.0.

1. Digitalisation in the value chain
When digitalisation is used throughout the production process (from design to end of life of product), operations are made more efficient. Apart from simplifying the work process, this also has a positive effect on how much resources are used. This helps businesses to further lessen the industry’s climate impact.
Industry 4.0 brings a multitude of technological and digital innovations; most have a distinct positive impact on the industry, no matter where in the value chain you are. Just as previous industrial innovations radically affected the conditions for the fashion industry, future fashion industry might also look fundamentally different – because of the technology in development.

2. Personalisation
The need to simplify personalisation of fashion is a major technology driver. On of these techs is 3D scanning. The development of 3D scanning will on one hand make it easier for the consumer to decide. On the other hand, this can also play a major role early in the value chain, in design and production.

3. Shops of the future
The new technological possibilities will probably have a big impact on the mortar and brick shops – in location, design, and customer interaction. We’re looking at ways to make the shopping more customised, integration digital solutions throughout the shop. Everything to make the experience easier, more pleasant, and valuable for the customer

4. Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 is an important aspect of the future of the fashion industry, both in Sweden and internationally. The fourth industrial revolution is characterised by terms like “Internet of Things”, artificial intelligence and robotics. It includes digitalisation of production chains, creating smart factories. In smart factories, cyber-physical systems make simple decisions and act somewhat independently.
AI plays a major role in Industry 4.0, for data analyses and other decision-making support. With Industry 4.0 we expect higher productivity and product quality as well as optimised production chains. That means that we can cut down on today’s overproduction. The extensive innovation following Industry 4.0 also means lots of opportunities to find new solutions, in yet newer technology.

More in the report
Apart from the aspects listed above, the Fashion Transformation repors’s part on technology also writes about legislation and policy initiatives. These are important in the context, as they are aimed at supporting and accelerating the transformation of the industry.

Facts on the source, the Fashion Transformation report
Read more and download
The first Fashion Transformation report was first presented at Almedalen, July of 2022. Almedalen is an annual Swedish event gathering where most high-ranking politician and business professional in the country participates.
The report series Fashion Transformation examines the transformation of the fashion industry. A transformation driven by market challenges, sustainability issues, change in consumer behaviours, and legislative initiatives. The different themes in the report are presented and discussed, using both measurable data and selected interviews with key industry stakeholders.

ACTE has been a partner in producing the report.

More links
The Swedish Fashion Council – SFC
Industry in metamorphosis – Another article on the report