Future Product Development Trends in Apparel Industry

What is Product Development?
Product development (PD) is defined as the design and engineering of products that are serviceable for the target consumer, marketable, manufacturable, and profitable. Therefore, it is the process of setting up the goals for the season, carrying out market and trend research, conceptualizing and finalizing a line of products for the season, developing product styles using the technical design process, making samples of the products to finalize product styles with standards, selling the product line, and sourcing and manufacturing the line. Product development process considering five stages: (1) line planning and research, (2) design concepts: line concept through research, (3) design development: line development, (4) line presentation and marketing, and (5) production planning: pre-production and optimization.

Apparel product development process ensures customers satisfaction and minimizing customer returns. The main purpose of apparel and fashion retailer is to provide their customers with the highest level of quality and service at the most competitive price. Over the last several years, rapid innovation in the apparel and fashion industry. Consumers are becoming economically developed. So, their behavior is changing with demand of time. The impact of these growing expectations on apparel. With increasing consumer demands force product development teams to work faster and more efficiently, while dealing with more complexity. They apply new process and technology in product development to fulfill customers demand. In this article, I will discuss about different process and tools of future trends in apparel PD (product development).

Future Trends in Apparel Product Development:
There are several processes, tools and techniques of future product development in apparel industry. Advances in technology will play a vital role in apparel product development. Different new technologies are used in apparel product development. They are discussed below.

a) Digital product development:
A new trend in apparel product development is apparent where more and more functions are expected to go digital, with fewer physical entities such as garment patterns and samples, whether they are in 2D or in 3D. This trend will not just apply to apparel product development but will carry along the pre-production, production, and post production functions in the apparel supply chain. Now a days body-scanning technology is commercially used for apparel product development. This technology combined with other technologies also have the capability of developing a digital fit model, which can be draped using electronically sewn, digitally decorated garment patterns to create digital samples for virtual-fit visualization and fit decisions. Now many apparel companies have reduced the number of physical samples by adopting virtual prototyping technologies.

4D body scanning
Figure 1: 4D body-scanning

b) Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR):
AR and VR technologies have the potential to transform the shopping experience. Virtual fitting rooms, where customers can try on clothes virtually, and immersive virtual fashion shows are some of the applications that could become more prevalent in the future. Designers can utilize these technologies for prototyping and visualizing designs, while virtual showrooms and runway experiences provide immersive presentations.

Augmented reality
Figure 2: Augmented reality

c) Digital printing:
Digital fabric printing applications for apparel product development are becoming popular. From the product development point of view, companies could use digitally printed sample yardage to replace the expensive sample yardage development process, which has a long lead time. This strategy will reduce the time and cost of developing multiple arrays of fabrics to arrive at the decision.

Digital printing machine
Figure 3: Digital printing machine

d) Compressing the product development cycle time:
Shortening the product development cycle is a trend that is very critical, as there is a lot of pressure for apparel companies to cater for types of customers with limited resources. To achieve this goal, apparel companies must implement virtual and digital 3D or 4D product-development technologies using virtual fitting, prototyping, realistic simulation and visualization, and using standard effective communication tools such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems across the supply chain. Many apparel companies using advanced technology tools to radically reduce the need for physical samples will be at a comparative advantage over other companies.

e) Fit customization and virtual human modeling:
The fashion, textiles, and apparel industries are moving towards global retailing or remote shopping, with the concept of enabling customers to purchase garments by conducting “virtual try-on” using their own body size and shape. Therefore, the virtual human modeling concept has become very important, and companies are conducting research on systems to quickly develop 3D avatars for virtual try-on for global retailing. The ability to create color body scans, and the capability of 4D body scanning, will have useful applications for garment product development in the future. With tech-companies becoming more transparent, tools from one company will be able to communicate with the tools from another tech-company, providing better technological collaboration for apparel product development.

f) Mobile product development:
The future of digital product development will move to mobile technologies with more and more technology solutions developed for mobile devices such as phones and tablets. There will be many applications developed to be used on mobile devices, providing apparel companies as well as consumers the opportunity to design, develop, visualize, and purchase apparel products fast. The virtual representations will look real, with virtual collections, dressing rooms, show rooms, etc. The technologies are becoming more affordable, so that the so-called complex, expensive technologies used by high-tech industries such as aerospace, will be used for consumer products such as apparel. The new generation of consumers will not agree looking at a picture of an apparel product but will look for a virtual dressing room to experience virtual fitting before making a purchase decision. For this, the technological tools will become more available through the web and cloud-based applications on mobile devices.

g) Sustainability:
Sustainability will continue to be a significant focus in apparel product development. Brands and consumers alike are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the apparel industry. Future trends may include the use of eco-friendly materials, adoption of sustainable production methods, and the incorporation of circular economy principles, such as recycling and upcycling. Innovations in fabric production, such as recycled fibers, bio-based materials, and organic textiles, are likely to gain popularity. The circular economy is the ultimate aim of many producers as consumers become well informed with regard to sustainability.

i) Other product development tools:
There are other tools that assist in more efficient apparel product development processes, such as the costing solution Quick True Cost by Methods Workshop. Considering the trends in technology applications, the new digital technologies will integrate with 3D or 4D-printing technologies to improve the apparel product development process. It is expected that new materials for 3D printing will develop that have the characteristics to replicate textile materials. The use of 3D printing and additive manufacturing techniques is expected to revolutionize apparel production. This technology offers the potential for on-demand production, reduced waste, and intricate designs that are difficult to achieve through traditional manufacturing methods. The new PDM or PLM (Product Life-cycle Management) systems that provide seamless information-sharing for decision-making in the apparel supply chain, in addition to accurate reporting and version control, also have a great impact on the clothing products development process. PLM will enhance the product development process for apparel in the near future.

4d printing
Figure 4: 3D-printing

Apparel product development trends are speculative and may evolve or change over time. The apparel industry is highly dynamic and influenced by various factors, including cultural shifts, technological advancements, and consumer preferences. These trends reflect evolving consumer values and pave the way for a more sustainable and innovative apparel industry.


  1. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  2. Advances in Apparel Production Edited by Catherine Fairhurst
  3. High Performance Apparel: Materials, Development and Applications Edited by John McLoughlin and Tasneem Sabir
Image courtesy:
  • www.cornell.edu
  • www.arch2o.com

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