As we say goodbye to the last decade, we turn our thoughts to the 10 years that lie ahead. Here, Duncan Gilmour, managing director at Screenworks, offers his predictions for 2020 and the next decade in our industry.
It has been a challenging end to the 2010s with uncertainty growing over recent years. Hesitancy from buyers has meant a reduction in order sizes, so I think when it comes to UK manufacturing in general, larger orders will be less prevalent as caution prevails.
However, every cloud has a silver lining and while exporting into Europe (certainly over the next few years), will see little growth, many customers will be forced to look more closely at their UK supply chains, which may result in UK manufacturing growth.
As a society, we are becoming greener across all aspects of life. With growing numbers of UK companies reducing their carbon footprint, we need to be geared for a resurgence in domestic manufacturing.
When it comes to the branded clothing textiles industry, I believe we will see a decline in fast fashion; under corporate and social responsibility (CSR) end users are seeking out ethically conscious brands and clients will need better quality and longer lasting products to satisfy needs.
I think these factors will result in an increase in demand for organic and sustainable fabrics. Recycling rates and reducing packaging is increasing. By the mid 2020s we will see a huge change in the way we package and transport goods, reducing the impact our industry has on the environment. The research and investment in these areas is heartening, and I believe if we all focus together we can be a force for change.
AI and automation prevail
Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will accelerate. Over the last 10 years our industry has been slowly involving technology, but I suspect we will now see a real drive for businesses investing in technology in order to carve out a competitive edge – both from an efficiency as well as sustainability perspective.
By the late 2020s AI and machine learning will become well-established.
New and exciting techniques for garment decoration will begin to emerge, such as dye sublimation. These trends will undoubtedly have a real impact on current decoration techniques.
Digital printing is another area that will continue to grow, as well printing-on-demand. There will still be demand for other techniques, but with a growing number of smaller orders and requirements for striking prints or photography, digital printing and dye sublimation will become mainstream.
Bespoke and customised clothing has developed rapidly over the past decade. For many knowing how an item is manufactured has become as important as the item itself and with increasing competition in many sectors, brands need to find a way to differentiate themselves.
Clients are turning to bespoke in answer to these challenges – focusing on artistry, design and pantone matching in order to define their credentials and stand out.