"Way" back in the 80s and 90s, robots were the stuff of legend and fantasy. Michael Jackson piqued our imagination with his suits designed of metallic and looking for all the world like robotic gear. In a spectacular show, Alexander McQueen's '99 runway show had us in awe where robot arms were spray painting a dress on a live model. This too was a futuristic display that seemed all but for science fiction. For all our desire, the interaction of robots and fashion was years away and fantasy was the only place we saw it live back then.
Today that fantasy has become reality and automation is driving many areas of fashion to make the business of fashion far more capable, more rapid, and more affordable for the consumer.
Robotics in fashion is something that everyone recognizes as necessary and as a means to provide quicker and better service. Even giants in the e-com industry, such as Amazon, know how necessary robotics are for success. They paid $700 million and change to get Kiva Systems under their corporate flag. Kiva is a manufacturing company that makes robotic fulfillment systems. These systems are used by companies such as Saks Fifth Avenue and The Gap to navigate their massive warehouses. They also help to transport inventory much more rapidly than people can, meaning that same-day delivery is possible where it once was not.
According to Steven Crease who is the director of Operations at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, the use of ASRS helps them to provide customers with same-day delivery. Crease affirms that the use of robotics can provide much faster storage and retrieval systems, as well as manage the inventory much more accurately than any human worker could do. They also don't require as much space to operate or as much time to get the job done. If that's not a great reason for using robotics in fashion, we're not sure what is.
Still, according to the International Federation of Robotics the fashion industry has a lot left to embrace and is not using robotics to their full potential. They are not used as frequently in the manufacture of garments and other goods, even though they are much smarter. They are now able to be taught, and may actually be cheaper in the long run than human workers.
Fashion is making big changes quite dramatically and so is the field of robotics. One day soon, garments created by robots will be the norm. And who knows, maybe a robot will be the next Karl Lagerfeld. The fantasies of yesterday are now today's reality, so we can only wait to see what tomorrow will bring.
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Photo: Fashion Tribes