One of the last, most stubborn analogue links in the fashion value chain is material sourcing. Until relatively recently, every brand that bought materials was doing so from one (or more) physical catalogues, shipped across the world, that contained swatches of dyed and treated fabric in a choice of seasonal colours.

Needless to say, this method of material sourcing does not cater to the sheer pace of the modern consumer market; very few companies can afford to wait when it comes to identifying, reserving, and using the materials they need to bring their products to market.

At the same time, traditional material sourcing methods usually limit a brand to working from a small pool of potential suppliers, since no direct channel previously existed between mills, dyeing facilities and other suppliers, and designers and buyers at brand HQ.

Digital material sourcing platforms promise a total overhaul of how materials are bought and sold, by offering an all-digital channel between buyers and suppliers – one that carries over all the material characteristics needed for a modern, digital workflow.

Essential for 3D, and incredibly timely in light of the travel and export restrictions caused by the Coronavirus situation in early 2020, digital materials platforms are our editorial focus for August 2020.