H&M Group deploys VR to design more sustainably


H&M Group is investing in virtual reality to enable its design team to design more sustainably, says Christopher Wylie, research director at the brand.

Speaking at the FIT’s Sustainable Business and Design Conference in NYC last week, Wylie gave an insight into how the technology is being integrated at the beginning of the design process.

“When they pick fabrics, it will show them how much water that fabric uses and the amount of carbon,” revealed Wylie. In addition to that, VR is also helping improve the diversity of the garments’ shapes. “When they are doing the virtual cut of the piece, they can look at how it would fit in different shapes of people.”

The goal is to eventually use VR as an informational tool for designers, with initial tests already showing positive results. “It’s interesting when looking at these little experiments that we’ve done that it really influences how a product was made when that information was available,” he added.

H&M Group announced the appointment of Wylie last November as leading the research into data and analytics to drive the company’s sustainability mission. Speaking at the Business of Fashion’s VOICES conference at the time, he said AI could be used to reduce waste in the industry and drive efficiency through the supply chain.

So far, VR in the industry has been deployed at a more experiential level, often offering customer-facing activations at stores or at home. But increasingly brands are looking at enabling their design teams with the relevant digital tools, from VR to 3D printing, that enable them to create more mindfully, reducing waste and the risk of overproduction.

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