What is “Open Source” and why would it apply to fashion?
Open Source- is usually used to describe a technology software whose authors have made its source code available to others who would like to view that code, copy it, learn from it, alter it, or share it. This is in contrast to a proprietary technology software, which is closed and requires payment.
This does not mean that open source software is free… it can cost money to use, but it simply means that people are able to use, contribute, and build upon a codebase or library of code that operates as templates and saves time when structuring a technology architecture.
Open Source Thinking is a powerful idealism that can help entire industries move forward. It helped build the internet. Companies like WordPress are built on open-source philosophy. Open-source is not just for code, it’s for any type of information sharing system that allows people to give and take knowledge from a base point.
So… how does this pertain to FASHION?
First, you need to understand how fashion is made. It’s a common misconception that fashion is all created from scratch. In fact, there are years and years of fitting and pattern knowledge that pertain to fashion design. It might surprise you to know that nothing is really new.
Of course, there are a lot of creative designers out there who make incredibly creative garments… but everything starts from a block or base. Pants are pants… two legs- an opening to get in- etc. A turtleneck…trench coat… motorcycle jacket… kimono… these things have been made before and most design iterations are just versions of a standard pattern.
Most people buy similar styles, even as the trends change… so most companies end up making the same things.
To create a product you need essentially 5 things:
- A tech pack (imagine a blueprint or plan but for a garment).
- A pattern (like a cookie cutter but for fabric).
- Material Sources (fabrics, buttons, zippers, etc).
- Fit Samples (a sewn up sample to ensure correct fit in the correct fabric).
- Production or Factory (a place to make the bulk order).
All of these things need to work simultaneously with each other. You can not have a tech pack without having made a sample, in the correct fabric, and ensuring the specifications are ok. You need the specifications so the factory can manage the machines on the production line to produce as close to a correct garment as you can. In this way, the components of producing clothing are much like a codebase.
If one or two things change… like the fabric weight or the size of a zipper… it can affect the quality, price, and the potential sale/return rate of the goods dramatically.
This is where we see an amazing opportunity with open source thinking!
It takes a lot of talent and time to get all of these items pulled together… sometimes up to 10 weeks to design and develop a new style… and then another 10–20 weeks to produce a bulk product. Add shipping time and now you understand why fashion companies work on products a season ahead.
Multiple people like a sourcing person, a designer, a technical designer, a pattern maker, a sample sewing technician, and teams of production coordinators. We know we can not remove these people… but we also know that we do not need to continue to hire them to re-invent the wheel every time a company wants to make a new product.
The money it takes to support all of this is a lot, about $5000 per style. As a startup brand, (any size brand really) you are usually so busy designing and paying for the design of your product that when you launch… your marketing budget is too small to actually sell stuff effectively. You can die before you even get to market.
Modern Brands is building the world’s first open-source for fashion platform. Our goal is to give fashion brands a way to build their products easier, cheaper and faster.
We will have a highly curated network of contributors to our open-source platform (anyone can apply but the products are checked and curated). We work with the most common technologies used in the industry (like excel and illustrator), but also push forward into the most innovative programs like 3d, PLM software, and fit technologies… and we have spent years building a network of the best suppliers, sample makers, vendors globally. Our platform has everything you need to build your brand, your way.
Join us in our mission to bring the first open-source for fashion platform to the world…