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22 November 2023

Feedback from our participation in the IACDE 2023 International Convention

Alexandra BUOR, our Design & 3D expert, takes the floor to share her experience of the latest IACDE convention, which took place in Rome on September 28 and 29, 2023.


What is the IACDE?


L’ IACDE is an organization founded in 1910 by American and Italian master tailors to share their know-how. Today, theIACDE brings together international fashion brands andmanufacturers, as well as artisans from the four corners of the globe. The aim of the IACDE is to enable the sharing of technical knowledge in garment design between professionals and to advance the fashion industry.


Why did you join IACDE?


As you know, I’ve worked in the fashion world, as a product developer, textile project manager, and now as a 3D expert. My role as a consultant makes monitoring necessary. Always on the lookout for new approaches and case studies in fashion (particularly around the use of new technologies like 3D), I was immediately motivated by the idea of joining this association. Learn by sharing ideas and methods, with the aim of advancing the industry at a professional convention? It was obvious that I had to take part.


IACDE stands for genuine simplicity and benevolence, enabling free and constructive exchanges and contributing to the emergence of new ideas. IACDE also brings together members from different countries (North America, Scandinavia, Europe and Japan), and this cultural diversity is a boon for inspiring exchanges.


Back to 2023


This year’s convention was held in Rome, the undisputed home of master bespoke tailors who excel in the art of the perfect suit.


The main themes discussed revolved around key topics such as :

  1. The integration of 3D solutions in the field of made-to-measure craftsmanship,
  2. Sustainable development in the clothing industry,
  3. Relocation strategies.

1 – Integrating 3D solutions


During the various conferences and discussions, I was delighted to see that the art of bespoke tailoring did not exclude the use of 3D technology. On the contrary, they see the value of these tools, both as facilitators of remote working and as catalysts for innovative ideas. Of course, I’ve always been convinced of the multiple benefits of 3D, but meeting other professionals who share this conviction reassures me about the future of the fashion industry.


During the convention, Hugo Boss and Scott Sports shared their experiences ofintegrating 3D technology throughout the product development cycle. This enabled us to gain valuable insights into the implementation stages and the success of their project. It’s essential to stress thata 3D project can only succeed if management integrates this tool into the company’s strategy, and if ambitions are well defined. Otherwise, it will be in vain. It’s comforting to hear, and it’s hard not to smile, because it’s one of the pieces of advice I’ve been giving since the start of my 3D adventure.


2 – Sustainable development in the apparel industry


Another important theme that has been widely explored is sustainable development. It was clear that each country has its own definition and perspective on sustainable development and eco-responsibility. But everyone agrees that the stakes are so high that change needs to take place on a global scale, rather than individually, if we are to be aligned and move forward as a whole.


Most of the brands and suppliers present (Freudenberg, Chargeurs PCC, BESTE SPA to name but a few) are involved in eco-responsibility initiatives, whether it’s optimizing energy use, recycling materials and water, or adopting eco-designed products.


We were lucky enough to be able to take part in a talk by the economist Mr Fabio Scaciavillani . He took us back to the history of global economic, social and political conflicts that have shaped today’s fashion market. What was most disturbing was the realization that the situation we find ourselves in was inevitable, given the decisions that have been taken for decades. However, solutions do exist, and it is still possible to change the course of history in the fashion industry, if we act together and at ALL stages of garment design.


3 – Relocation strategies


Finally, we looked at emerging strategies that combine sustainable development and know-how. After several hours of discussion, we were all unanimous: the respective relocation of each country is an essential step towards sustainable, eco-responsible development. To keep up with costs, it will also be essential to rely on new technologies such as 3D to minimize ecological impact, and automate manufacturing to the maximum in order to be competitive. We must now capitalize on emerging strategies to counter the mistakes of the past and return to a healthier balance for future generations and our planet.


Nevertheless, know-how remains the name of the game. Relocation will only work if the players have technical knowledge and an industry that is still present in the country. Unfortunately, some countries like the USA have realized the harsh reality that there are no longer any suppliers of materials and components or factories on their territory, as everything comes almost exclusively from export. Knowledge has also disappeared within brands. Designers now only work on finished products, and no longer have the technical know-how to design garments. So how do you move forward when everything has to be rebuilt?


It’s in Portugal that we can draw inspiration. Portugal is an example of a highly successful relocation. After years of stagnation (decline in export sales), suffering from relocation like many other European countries in the 2000s, Portugal has managed to revive its pool of material suppliers and manufacturers. One of the winning strategies was to merge all the associations of various product typologies (materials, knits, dyes, agents, etc.) into a single association ” Associação Têxtil e Vestuário de Portugal “(Portuguese Textile and Clothing Association). This merger has enabled :

  • Promote the strengths of the Portuguese textile industry to brands: know-how, proximity and adaptability to needs (the ability to produce both small and large quantities).
  • Carry out joint actions to move the sector forward on major CSR projects.
  Sales generated by exports to France increased by 40% between 2019 and 2022.  

The last word


The fashion industry is transforming itself and looking for solutions to become a more virtuous industry. Strategies for relocating and digitizing development processes seem to be the winning solutions for meeting this sustainable development challenge.

  Photo credits © : IACDE