Manufacturing has been a black box for too long. With the overwhelming majority of apparel, footwear, and accessories production conducted overseas, retailers and brands have had to settle for extremely limited insight into how their products are being made – leading to compounded issues with speed, quality, and transparency.

With the help of technologies like digital printing, robotics, automation, and shopfloor control platforms, a new kind of fashion factory is emerging: always connected, agile, and capable of producing prototypes, samples, short runs, and potentially more.

These factories are the vanguard of Industry 4.0 (Smart Manufacturing in the USA) in that they provide live visibility into the manufacturing process that simply had not been possible before – allowing factory and customer alike to design to cost, respond to micro-fluctuations in the market, and achieve cost and time savings.

Microfactories also promise to bring some level of manufacturing back onshore – and even in-house. Rather than waiting for prototypes to be produced overseas and shipped, a microfactory could bring that process back in-country for Western brands, allowing them to create samples and short runs close to the consumer. This could have a significant impact on sustainability.

Keep visiting The Interline throughout July 2020 to find out whether the micro-scale factories of tomorrow can deliver on the vision for closer, more sustainable manufacturing.