Friday, April 19, 2024

DOST pushes digitalization of PH garment, fashion industries

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is pushing for an aggressive digitalization program for the country’s struggling garment and fashion industry that includes digital prototyping and handloom weaving.

Evangeline Flor Manalang, supervising science research specialist at the DOST’s Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) told a webinar said that despite the Philippines being endowed with rich sources of natural fibers, the textile industry has been doing poorly in global trade, recording only $286 million in exports recently while importing $1.286 billion, thereby incurring a trade deficit of $1 billion.

Manalang says the digitalization of the textile industry would move the country up the global apparel value chain.

“The design, sales, and branding stage have the highest value in the global value chain, but for the Philippines, even after several decades our garment industry remains still in the cut, make, and trim process,” which represents the lowest value, said Manalang.

“If we want to get the highest value then we have to get in the design and services segment,” she said.

Thus, she continued, PTRI is implementing initiatives that promote digital sample prototyping through integrated product development systems.

Manalang noted that the total timeline for the traditional development of garments is roughly 148 days or five months. Digital textile prototyping is a way to make the process more efficient.

“We are trying to incorporate advanced technologies, AI, and digitalization so we can cope with the long process of prototyping,” the science officer explained.

To support digital prototyping, PTRI is adopting an integrated textile product development system that is precise, rapid, efficient, seamless, sustainable, and cost-competitive.

PTRI is developing a Web-based application that will facilitate design-making. Once running, the app will give an unlimited number of users access to a database of designs so that designers, manufacturers, and students can make use of what’s available in the app and for faster garment prototyping since we are building on the digital library.

Manalang said digitalization also entails digitalizing the handloom weaving sector, which is plagued by several challenges, foremost of which is counterfeiting.

She noted that around 60% of counterfeit goods in the country fall under the textile category.

Another concern is the advancing age of the handloom weavers, raising issues about the cultural preservation of this unique industry.

To address these problems, PTRI, which is the DOST’s textile research and development arm, has embarked on the digitalization of the handloom weaving industry.

The project aims to profile the weavers, designs, and products; protect intellectual property; preserve the weaving heritage and culture; and promote local production and raw materials. The program has three components, namely, digital weaving registry, digitalization of weaves, and covert security marks.

The PTRI has also created the 2022-2032 Textile Science and Technology Roadmap to set the pathway for textile product development and digitization initiatives in the face of deficiencies in technological interventions in the industry.

“The vision is for an integrated textile and apparel product development so that it can be harnessed by our local industry. The objective is to strengthen Industry 4 in the local industry, establish multidisciplinary and multi-industry collaboration in establishing Industry 4, and enhance local capability in textile product digitalization,” added Manalang.

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