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Updated: December 9, 2009 20:24 IST

Test tube fashion

Shalina Shah
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Rita Menon, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, with Dr. Darlie Koshy of the Institute of Apparel Management at the opening of the Fashion Innovation Lab.
Rita Menon, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, with Dr. Darlie Koshy of the Institute of Apparel Management at the opening of the Fashion Innovation Lab.

Fashion Innovation Lab shortens the pre-production process for Indian exporters

Avid brand watchers might complain of a not-so-impressive presence of international clothing labels in the country, especially in the high-street segment. Ironically, a customer shopping for the same in the West will often come across garments with a ‘Made in India' tag. We're talking labels like Gap, Zara, H&M, Kohl's, Old Navy, JC Penney, Quicksilver, Diesel and Liz Claiborne, to name a few.

Recently, at Apparel House in Gurgaon, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) honoured Indian exporters through the AEPC Export and Lifetime Achievement Awards – people who've matched international quality standards with indigenous production capabilities, in turn becoming a source of employment for lakhs each year and making India a prominent part of the global supply chain. Eastman Global Clothing from Tirupur (Tamil Nadu's hosiery hub) and Gokaldas Images of Bangalore, which put their respective production headquarters on the national fashion outsourcing map, won most of the honours.

As a practical tool, AEPC's academic and training arm, the Institute of Apparel Management (IAM), has come up with the concept of a ‘Fashion Innovation Lab'. Launched in association with Tukatech, USA, the virtual lab will aid in 3D virtual prototyping, idea conceptualising, grading, pattern-making, market making, fit checking, visual storyboarding, and fabric and print design colour ways and repeats in a ‘Merchandising Live' approach.

Virtual prototyping

From putting together the design and colour story to even testing the garments for fit on virtual models matched with the buyers' live models, the lab assumes significance in the days of shortened lead time from the earlier 120 days to 45-60 days at present. Besides students and faculty at IAM, the Fashion Innovation Lab can also be used by industry professionals to shorten the pre-production process.

“If you talk of labels like Mango and Zara, you see how they've reduced the time cycle drastically. Making approval samples and fit samples ends up taking a lot of time. What we need to do is virtual prototyping. However, since fit is paramount the final fitting can be done in the end. Fit has become the critical issue; we need to get well-fitted garments irrespective of size issues,” says Darlie Koshy, director general, Institute of Apparel Management. The Virtual Innovation Lab will play a crucial role here, he says. “Indian merchandisers need to migrate to the virtual, the way the animation industry has moved from 2D to 3D,” he adds.

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