TCBL is currently working with the first Call Associate Enterprises to develop concrete Business Cases that can illustrate the benefits of Business Model Innovation. The starting set of Business Cases are listed below.
A value chain of businesses from cotton growing and ginning to spinning, knitting, and garment manufacture is being tested to show the market added value of natural cotton. This will allow for new market opportunities but also work upstream to allow for the required higher price in the raw material.
Short run production can allow for local sourcing closer to market needs, but also presents a number of challenges that can be addressed through TCBL.
We can identify three groups:
- Textile manufacturers willing to produce short run capacity, e.g. during down time, or wish to broaden their offer or have leftover fabric to sell. This might include textile manufacturers which may “over-produce” on purpose with large orders in order to diversify their business positioning, something they are keen to do.
- Garment manufacturers who range from the at home sewer to the small Cut, Make & Trim (CMT) unit. This could include the larger scale garment manufacturers who need to down-scale because of pressures to reduce numbers and through skills shortages.
- Designers who want to design and sell small lots, potentially by grouping together to increase buying power.
Match making opportunities can be engineered via an online platform created or adapted for this purpose. Such a platform will allow for the development of two options: firstly, CMT manufacturers to bid for jobs posted by designers; secondly, for manufacturers to post any excess stock to sell. Quality standards and kite marks held by manufacturers will be included in an element of quality assurance but the process will be essentially self-moderating and can be achieved using TripAdvisor style feedback. The same model applies for those manufacturers wishing to offload stocks of excess cloth, which could also offer opportunities for designers to aggregate demand.
Partners will be working with the industry over the next three months to produce a working model with real business examples.
Today, consumers have little or no idea of sustainability issues related to their clothes. They can’t tell the difference between low-standard clothes and environmentally-friendly ones. The aim of this Business Case is to create an ecosystem covering the entire supply chain: from the fibre down to the final customer. In so doing, we will promote awareness about transparency and sustainability issues (environmental, social and economic) for the production of quality products.
In order to explore the sustainability for the entire supply chain, a new type of organization (e.g. a consortium) may be required to objectively supervise the entire process. Such a consortium would promote life cycle thinking and explore different technologies for the elimination (not only reduction) of chemicals in the production cycles.
On average, a dress bought by a final customer is worked upon by 9 different suppliers that have only a part of the vision. Each normally thinks only of its specific production problems rather than real, more authentic needs of the final customers in terms of quality, functionality or knowledge. The Business Case will promote transparency and social responsibility to the degree possible, although specific agreements may be required for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights.
The approach could examine the above issues by surveying potential partners for sourcing, organizing and producing sustainable T&C products made from cotton. The focus will be on environment-related issues (e.g. waste and water reduction, recycling, etc.) through an action research method for several areas of the textile process: design, sampling, finishing, dyeing, drying, technical (including 'smart') textile experimentation.
The Business Case will then build a business ecosystem that demonstrates viable alternatives to current products, markets and supply chains. It will allow partners with similar concerns for sustainability to share their expertise to redesign current textile supply chains.
The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world, in which one the most environmentally disastrous processes is the dyeing of fibers and textiles of the clothes we wear. Chemicals are released daily in nature destroying the environment around us to satisfy the colour demands that we create as designers, industry and consumers. Very few options are being explored in this fast changing fashion, clothing and textile industry, in which the list of chemical treatments is only expanding. We are simultaneously trying to identify the real environmental costs we are paying and researching for less harmful alternatives.
The TextileLab Amsterdam and Making Lab Athens have been researching about bacterial dyes as an alternative, on one side focusing on creative experimentation and on the other side exploring scalability and impact of this process and outcomes. Together with other TCBL key players in exploring relevant candidates, documenting the process and evaluating the possible impact of this project we are working on bringing these experiments to real industrial life.
This project could answer many questions around the textile and clothing dyeing processes, providing a non chemical solution and an organic natural cold dye bath. Lowering chemical-environmental impact of dyes and possibly creating a higher energy efficiency for this industry. Testing this with real industrial parties for real life impact is were we see this going.
Digitalisation of archives and collections
Textile and Clothing archives can be an important source of inspiration for the design of contemporary collections. Unfortunately, however, there have been huge losses of industrial archives due to de-industrialization together with a substantial lack of a culture of conservation in the industry. Fortunately, some more structured companies have maintained their historical archives, but in most cases these are poorly accessible, ending up as unproductive clutter.
Today, this material – sample books and data sheets, in the case of textiles – - is of great value. By preserving the manufacturing memory of the area and of individual companies, it contributes almost unconsciously to the preservation and transmission of the 'know-how' and the enormous wealth of tacit knowledge of a T&C district. Above all, when it is properly stored, catalogued and digitized, making it available for consultation both internally and third parties, it can represent a significant resource for designers.
To fully exploit this potential, ‘heritage marketing’ can increase the added value of a T&C collection. Linking a contemporary product with archive materials – either through a faithful reproduction or a free interpretation - can greatly contribute to the construction of the value chain of the product itself, distinguishing it as "unique" compared to the global offer, resulting from decades or even centuries of history.
Through this approach a company can highlight its cultural heritage to partners and target customers, as part of a wider collective heritage. Heritage marketing is in fact a strategic factor for the revitalization and success of historic brands. Companies can boast a glorious on which to build communication campaigns and even create ad hoc collections with a high intangible value.
In this Business Case, TCBL will build the capacity of enterprises to catalogue and digitize fashion and textile archives of T&C companies and exploit them to increase the added value of their products.
Independent and home designers
Perhaps they consider it a temporary activity, waiting to be absorbed by a “Big brand”; perhaps they just escaped from a “Big brand”. Maybe some were simply homesick and prefer a familiar clientele in the same town where they were born.
The fact is that Europe is full of small workshops, run by young graduates from fashion schools, alone or in small groups. Each one carries out more or less each of the steps in clothing manufacturing: design, pattern making, prototyping, finding raw materials, manufacturing, and promotion.
Some feel they haven’t made it just because they wanted to walk in a catwalk, and maybe are struggling to survive. Others have found their niche and prefer to stay as they are.
In any event, the fashion world is currently not made for them, design tools aspire to be bought by big brands, fabrics are only available at a decent price in large lots, price competition is fierce, and the market seems to not take them seriously.
We, on the contrary, see a huge potential. If only they had access to frugal tools. If only they could manage their laboratory workflow better. If only they had access to e-commerce and logistics platforms. If only they could learn how to network and support each other.
That’s what we’re doing in TCBL. The Independent Designers Business Case is reaching out to identify needs and fill the gaps. The main areas of work include:
- Accessible digital pattern making software, using platforms such as PatternMaker or Valentina Project, particularly helpful for made to measure.
- Experimenting together with body scanners for capturing measurements or with VR/AR visualisation of new models
- Using the Sqetch platform both to find manufacturers for designs as well as clients for production capabilities.
- Using Thela, the supply chain platform of Cleviria, to help certify their adherence to environmental and social standards.
- Assistance in learning to sell their products and services on ecommerce platforms such as Etsy or ASOS.
- Helping to partner with other Enterprises or TCBL partners to expand their production capabilities.
- Using the Zine or other TCBL communication tools to spotlight the work of our most promising members.