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Gerber Technology’s Ideation an Inspirational Event for Textile Design and Manufacturing
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently traveled to Miami Beach to join more than 300 people at the Gerber Technology Ideation event, the company’s software users’ group. This educational and networking event is in its 20th year. The enthusiasm among the more than 240 customers and prospects in attendance reflects the efforts the company has made to listen to customers and stay ahead of the trends.
By Cary Sherburne
Published: October 15, 2018
Since we launched our Textiles section in January, I have had the pleasure of attending a number of textiles-related events, and I have to say that Gerber’s Ideation is one of the best run I have seen yet. The conference, dedicated to fashion and retail professionals who rely on CAD and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, offered a full day of hands-on training in the latest features of the Gerber software portfolio, followed by two days of break-out sessions, panel discussions, hands-on workshops, and a special opportunity to use some of the software to create a custom clutch (purse), including cutting and sewing the final product. I even saw several men proudly creating their clutch! There were also many demonstrations, strategic executive sessions, and networking opportunities, as well as presentation of in-depth inspirational case studies. With dozens of sessions across three different tracks plus several general sessions, everything ran completely on schedule. In fact, the conference actually ended early! The organizers did a fabulous job with this event.
Gerber has been a player in the apparel industry for 50 years, and this was the 20th year of Ideation. According to CEO Mohit Uberoi, the company has a strong balance sheet, and its investors are investing in the future. “We plan to be here for 50 more years,” he said. “We have a three-pronged strategy for investment: we’re spending money internally for development, collaborating with others in the industry, and we’re acquiring.”
The company had recently announced the acquisition of MCT Digital, adding modular laser cutting technology to its existing portfolio of finishing hardware and related software. During the event, Gerber announced another acquisition, San Francisco-based Avametric, a developer of cloth simulation technology, enabling fashion brands to deliver highly accurate 3D renderings of their products on customizable avatars for e-commerce and augmented reality (AR) applications. Gerber had been working with Avametric for a year, integrating Avametric’s fabric simulation engine into its AccuMark 3D platform. Now, with Avametric part of the Gerber family, even tighter integration is possible, and the Gerber library of avatars will be significantly expanded, among other benefits. Avametric was so excited about joining the Gerber family that they flew in 25 staff members to the event. The goal is to build an end-to-end 3D platform, including a virtual try-on capability that can make it easier for consumers to make fashion choices online—and hopefully reduce the number of online apparel purchases that are returned.
Clearly, the “collaborating with others” plank of Gerber’s strategy is working well, with nearly 20 partner sponsors at the event, and many others participating in the Gerber community. One announcement at the show we found particularly interesting was a partnership with OnPoint Manufacturing and PAAT, launching the FashionTech Platform 1.0. It includes software, equipment, and consulting to set up a purchase-activated fashion model with a digitally integrated e-commerce and on-demand design to print, cut, and sew microfactory operation. Watch for a more in-depth discussion of this partnership in an upcoming interview with J. Kirby Best, OnPoint and PAAT’s chairman.
Between the OnPoint and Avametric capabilities, Gerber hopes to spur growth in on-demand apparel manufacturing, enabling manufacturers to go from order to a finished personalized garment in less than three hours, a concept that will revolutionize the fashion industry and encourage more reshoring of apparel manufacturing.
Finally, in terms of internal investments, Gerber’s AccuMark software saw two releases in the past year, with 558 new features and enhancements, while its Yunique PLM is now a 100% cloud-based SaaS model with releases every six to eight weeks and has seen more than 150 new features. Gerber Technology has more than 100,000 software seats in the market, making it the largest fashion tech software provider. The company also recently launched the Gerber Technology Community with more than 1,000 software users participating. That number is likely to grow quickly as more users learn about the value the portal can bring.
Gerber also announced the opening of a new FashionTech Innovation Center in New York City, scheduled to be up and running by summer 2019, that will feature a complete workflow, from creative to digital print, cut and sew. Next year’s Ideation event will be held in New York.
Karsten Newbury, SVP and General Manager since 2014, reported that Gerber PLM cloud adoption has more than tripled over the last year, with 605 of customers planning to adopt 3D technology in the next year. He commented, “Our theme is embracing digitalization, and that is more than adopting tools and technology. We help clothe the world—more than 8 billion people and things. We empower customers to create great fashion products, with tools, support, and an end-to-end workflow from consumers to design, to production, and all the way back to the consumer. We also help our customers and consumers connect the virtual world with physical reality, and to provide a more personalized consumer experience. Companies that create personalized experiences for customers grow two to three times faster and consumers spend as much as 40% more when engaging with a personalized experience.”
Mary McFadden, the company’s Executive Director of CAD Product Management, reported that in January 2019, AccuMark in the cloud will be generally available to customers in North America, for a fee of $350 per month with a one-year commitment. She also talked about the company’s partnership with ExactFlat, a 3D to 2D flattening tool enabling 3D files to be transferred to production patterns for non-apparel applications such as furniture, transportation interiors, boat covers and more. The patterns are then ready for nesting and cutting, simplifying the process.
Another new capability is the ability to read X-Rite AxF and Vizoo files into AccuMark 3D for photorealistic virtualization, a capability that can help reduce the need for physical samples, speeding the product development process.
Other highlights of the event included:
- An inspirational keynote by fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff who operates the largest global fashion house founded by a female Millennial. Two years ago, she transitioned her business to see-buy-wear, eliminating the conventional fashion show held six to nine months before collections are actually available. She has also implemented amazing technology in her stores, including interactive mirrors that let customers Facetime with friends as they make fashion choices, and that offer up suggestions for complementary apparel and accessories. Lighting can even be adjusted to align with the environment in which the garment will be worn. You can even order champagne to your dressing room! In strategizing for her business, she says, “We think like companies that can potentially disrupt us.”
- Three fashion shows, including a show with five finalistsin the Student Design Competition. Attendees were able to vote to choose the final winner. Students were invited to be inspired by Pantone’s Color of the Year 2018 (Ultra Violet) and a palette of related colors. The designs were stunning, and the final decision was difficult. Tyesha Wilson from Fanshawe College was the lucky winner with an amazing evening gown. Two other fashion shows featured designs from Yoga THAT and Swedroe by Ariel.
During and following the event, we were able to interview a number of Gerber partners and speakers at the event, and will be writing about many of them in the coming weeks.