Luxury fashion brands turning to technology to increase manufacturing speeds
Designer fashion labels, such as Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Helmut Lang, and Burberry, are all embracing new technologies to improve production speeds.
Luxury labels are increasingly struggling with keeping up with high-street fashion brands that are capable of manufacturing and releasing clothing to feed the in-control customer.
“Speed is everything right now,” said Karin Tracy, Head of Fashion, Luxury and Beauty Industries at Facebook.
“For luxury brands, whoever is the fastest right now will have competitive advantage, full stop.”
“They need to step out of the comfort zone of perfection, think about how to move fast and build things to let them do so.”
Zara, the Spanish retailer, is releasing new stock at a rate four or five times faster than traditional retails brands, according to Alvanon.
In order to improve time-efficiency in production, more brands are investing in technologies such as 3D design, automation, and robotics.
These technologies are reducing inefficiencies and improving turnaround time in the supply chain.
In October last year, Kering announced it would be launching the Gucci Art Lab, a 35,000sqft facility designed to manufacture leather goods, using sustainable materials sourced locally.
“This is a step toward internalization of production, especially leather goods,” commented CFO of Kering, Jean-Marc Duplaix.
“Over time, there will be better control over product development, sampling and material development.”
First Solar to Invest US$684mn in Indian Energy Sector
First Solar is about to set up a new photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The 3.3GW factory will create 1,000 skilled jobs and is expected to launch its operations in Q3 of 2023. According to the company, India needs 25+ gigawatts of solar energy to be deployed each year for the next nine years. This means that many of First Solar’s Indian clients will jump at the chance to have access to the company’s advanced PV.
Said Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO: ‘India is an attractive market for First Solar not simply because our module technology is advantageous in its hot, humid climate. It’s an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy’.
A Bit of Background
First Solar is a leading global provider of photovoltaic systems. It uses advanced technology to generate clear, reliable energy around the world. And even though it’s headquartered in the US, the company has invested in storage facilities around the world. It displaced energy requirements for a desalination plant in Australia, launched a source of reliable energy in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE), and deployed over 4.5GW of energy across Europe with its First Solar modules.
The company is also known for its solar innovation, reporting that it sees gains in efficiency three times faster than multi-crystalline silicon technology. First Solar holds world records in thin-film cell conversion efficiency (22.1%) and module conversion efficiency (18.2%). Finally, it helps its partners develop, finance, design, construct, and operate PV power plants—which is exactly what we’re talking about.
How Will The Tamil Nadu Plant Work?
Tamil Nadu will use the same manufacturing template as First Solar’s new Ohio factory. According to the Times of India, the factory will combine skilled workers, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT connectivity. In addition, its operations will adhere to First Solar’s Responsible Sourcing Solar Principles, produce modules with a 2.5x lower carbon footprint, and help India become energy-independent. Said Widmar: ‘Our advanced PV module will be made in India, for India’.
After all, we must mention that part of First Solar’s motivation in Tamil Nadu is to ensure that India doesn’t rely on Chinese solar. ‘India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon supply chain’, Widmar explained. ‘That’s precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits’.
According to First Solar, India’s model should be a template for like-minded nations. Widmar added: ‘We’re pleased to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Asia-Pacific region—with American-designed solar technology’. To sum up: Indian solar power is yet the next development in the China-US trade war. Let the PV manufacturing begin.