Technology in Fashion Product Development and Manufacturing


23 Mar 2015 15 Dec 2017

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According to Tyler, (2008, p.1) Clothing manufacture is an activity dominated by the need for human skills, with a great range of raw materials, product types, production technologies, production volumes, retail markets and brands.

These days, consumers are being influenced by fashion trends, thereby having the enticement of the ongoing newness and needs to buy and keep up with the latest appearance have become the order of the day. People believe their look is what matters most and so are very much keen in updating it with fashion.

The term fashion describes the current prevailing trends in the society for example, concerning a particular way of dressing, lifestyle, pattern of thought and the development of the arts (Eberle et al, 2004, p.217)

The move towards so-called ‘Fast-fashion' within many retailers means that the designers have a much shorter development period so that the store can respond to new trends within a matter of weeks (Goworek, 2006, p.31). Fast fashion in my own understanding simply means the ability to respond immediately to current fashion trends. Hence, because of the increasing demand of products by customers, new technologies are constantly being introduced to fashion industries to improve and quicken production.

The aim of this study is to discuss the technologies involved in the development and assembly of new product and find out how it has contributed to fast fashion.

Technology is the process of applying technical devices and knowledge to suit a particular work or purpose, therefore, fashion technology is the process by which these technical devices and knowledge are applied to the construction and manufacturing of fashion products. However, working in the fashion industry requires an adapt knowledge and understanding of technologies involved in the development and assembly of new products.


The aim of this literature review is to establish that relevant work has already been completed in the field. In particular I am keen to demonstrate in this section that this term paper is based upon a thorough understanding of the field, and to establish evidence that I have researched into the subject.

"Fast fashion" is a term that refers to affordable basics and disposable trends. It has also been used as a term to describe clothing collections which are based on the most recent fashion trends. (Apparel search, 2009) ‘‘Fashion products have a limited life cycle, more so than other products.'' (Gowerek, 2004, p. 142) According to Tyler, (2008), Fashion requires a quick response, that is to say that fashion apparel has a short product life and differentiation advantages can be built on the images and styles of brands which can be quickly imitated. Fashion producers have continually worked hard to provide new products to capture the imagination of the consumers with these innovative styles and images and so technological advancement has brought about the introduction of ready-to-wear/mass production apparel.

Integration of quick response has given the fashion producers a lot of advantage as they have developed new capabilities known as quick response strategies to supplant timing and know-how which helps them in the assembly and development of only clothes that sells.



The steps involved in garment assembly are called operations. (Frings, 2008, p. 260) the three methods of operations are; the progressive-bundle system, the tailor or whole garment system, and the modular manufacturing system. Automated systems are now being used in fashion factories to speed up production and cut lead time. There several computer technologies being used in the process of garment assembly; computer-aided manufacturing(CAM), unit production system(UPS), computer-integrated manufacturing(CIM) , computer simulation, and flexible manufacturing.


Product development is a process of creating new style within a given company's image or identity. (Frings, 2008) The two technologies involved in the development and assembly process of new product are; Seam technology and Machinery technology.


The seam technologies are; seam type, stitch type, needle, thread and feed mechanism.


A seam is a joint where a sequence of stitches unites two or more pieces of material. (cooklin, 2006, p. 110) Seams have several properties; strength, extensibility, elasticity, security, durability and good appearance all of which will be considered during product development. According to Tyler, (2008), the British standard has classified seam into eight classes according to the minimum number of parts that make up the seam. These classes are; Class 1- superimposed seam that consists of Plain, French and Piped seams, Class 2- lapped seam which consist of basic lapped, lap-felled and welted seam, Class 3- bound seam, Class 4- flat seam- consisting of butt and flatlock seams, Class 5- decorative stitching, Class 6- edge neatening, Class7- addition of trims, and Class 8- one-place components. (Tyler, 20008)


Thread and stitches are the primary means of garment assembly. (Glock et al, 2000, p.427) British standard has also classified stitches into six categories; Class 100- single thread chain stitches, used for temporary stitching, Class 200- hand stitches used for sewing edges, Class 300- lockstitches that are suitable for closing, lapping and decorating, Class 400- multi-thread chain stitches used as cross over seams and side seams, Class 500- overedge chain stitches used to neaten and bind of cut edges of a woven and knitted fabrics, and Class 600- covering chain stitches used to make flat extensible seams on knitted fabrics. Each of the above classified stitches has various stitch types within them. (Eberle et al, 2004, p. 167)


Machine needles come in various shapes and sizes and should be used on individual machines, stitch types, threads and fabrics. The two basic classes of needle points are Round and Cutting points needles. Round points needles includes slim set points which are used for blind stitches and for fine densely woven fabrics, set cloth points, heavy set point used especially for button sewing machines, light ball points used for sensitive fabrics such as knits, medium ball point and heavy ball points. Cutting points needles which are used sewing leather and films or coated and laminated textiles are left cutting points and spear points. (Eberle et al, 2004)


The threads are used to form stitches on fabrics. They are made from either natural or synthetic fibres or both and are chosen according to suitability for sewing in relation to uniform thickness, smoothness, elasticity and strength. Cotton is used to make natural fibre threads and nylon is used to make synthetic fibre threads. Sewing threads undergo the same process of production with yarns. The fibres are carded, combed, drawn and spun into yarns which in turn are twisted into sewing threads. Sewing threads can either be Z or S twist. The fibre on the surface of a Z twisted thread are faced to the right when the thread is held vertically while the fibre on the surface of an S twisted fabric are faced to the left when the thread is held vertically. The properties of threads are; colours, diameter, finish, size, twist and cord content. Characteristics of sewing thread are colours, fastness, flexibility, elongation, strength, shrinkage, twist balance, etc.


It is essential to consider the issues of feed mechanism in the process of product development. Feed mechanism is a process used in a sewing machine to join fabrics together whereby mechanism feeds the fabrics past the needle to achieve good fit, style appearance and performance. The sewing machine feed system are drop feed, differential feed, variable top and bottom feed (before and behind the needle), compound feed, alternating compound feed, puller feed (roller feed) and clamp feed(jig). Feed mechanism is made up of three sewing machine parts; presser foot, throat plate and feed dog. Material feed is achieved by the feed dog which contains several rows of serrated teeth. The feed dog is moved upwards and forwards through slits in the throat plate to engage with the other side of the material being sewn and to advance it by a distance of one stitch length. Contact between feed dog and material is is controlled by the spring-loaded presser foot. The feed dog is then lowered and moved back to its starting position. (Eberle et al, 2004, p.162)


Machinery technologies are; basic sewing machines, simple automatics, automated workstations and reprogrammable automated system. Machinery is a very important aspect of product development because it is very important to note the available machines as well as their capabilities. There are various classes of sewing machines used in clothing manufacture and these include; basic sewing machines, simple automatics, automated workstations, reprogrammable automated systems.


Basic sewing machines consist of a stand, table, electric motor, and a head. It offers one stitch type and has various shapes with means which helps the operator to control the speed of sewing, stitch density and presser foot position. (Tyler, 20008) there are several types of basic sewing machine; flat bed, raised bed, post bed, cylinder bed, feed-off-arm bed, side bed, etc.


These are controlled manually but the movement of the components to be sewn are being controlled by special cams during the entire sewing operation. Simple automatic machine produces only one configuration of sewing. Examples of simple automatic machines are buttonholers, buttonsewers, bar tack machines and label sewers. (Tyler, 20008)


These make use of electric, electronic and pneumatic control and incorporate sophisticated conveyor and clamp technology and perform complex functions in addition to sewing. (Tyler, 20008) These machines are, profile sewing system, CNC sewing machines and robots. Examples are patch pocket setting on jeans and shirts, run stitching collars or flaps, long seam joining, making jetted pockets, serging trousers and sequential buttonholing. Apart from loading and removing the garment after sewing, the machine controls the rest of the handling and sewing. (Tyler, 20008) Sophisticated automated workstations have numerical control, automated loading, unloading, edge sensors and other intelligent features. (Lecture note)


In reprogrammable automated system, garment parts are loaded and a series of machines carries out a series of operations to a section of a garment, for example, one system utilises robotic handling to assemble a three-part jeans pocket. (Tyler, 20008) However, these reprogrammable automated systems are not yet being used commercially.


These are industrial machines known as high speed machines, generally provided with several ancillary mechanisms whose function is to reduce the time needed by the operator for non-sewing activities. (Eberle et al, 2004) The ancillary equipment for industrial high speed sewing machines are; thread cutter, thread wiper, automated presser foot, needle positioning, stitch compression, bar tacking, automatic start using an optical sensor, automatic stop using an optical sensor, edge trimmer and edge trimmer(stepped). (Eberle et al, 2004)


CAD which means computer aided design is another technology identified as quick response element. ‘‘CAD systems are now the essential tools required to integrate and achieve success taking the role of the ‘comfigurator' between manufacture and retail.'' (Beazley and Bond, 2003, p. vii) CAD is used in the designing of new styles, as well as ethical specifications and functions of pattern creation, grading, production of cutting markers and lay planning in garment production.


Technology is a very important part of product development as it ensures quality, with suitable fit, fashionable and attractive appearance and speeds up production to meet with consumer satisfaction. Fashion needs depend on the creative technical development of the fashion industry because only innovative technology and manufacture can break through into the ongoing fast fashion.

Much innovation and interest in fashion has given consumers a lot of choice in keeping up with fashion trend. The fashion industry is now being faced with a lot of challenges because fashion is an everyday activity which we can never do without. According to Fan (2004, p.1), ‘‘our appearance is our most apparent individual characteristics...relying on appearance to guide personal decisions and social interactions is not only natural, but inescapable. The body and the way it is clothed and presented is a primary medium of expression, for it makes statements on the condition of society itself''. Hence, fashion demands are drastically increasing every now and then so as to meet up with the fast fashion.

The ultimate goal of manufacturers and retailers of clothing is to provide clothing for the whole range of their target market that constantly fits well to increase customer satisfaction and ultimate sales. (Ashdown, 2007, p. 348) To achieve this ultimate goal, manufactures must always create and interpret new trends, thereby making sure they comply with the norms and technologies that are involved in the day-to-day process of product assembly. Hence, current technologies are the basic requirements of product development which helps to brings about an innovation known as quick response. Quick response is a term used for the strategies being used to achieve fast fashion.


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