Materials? Everything changes. Material Exchange arrivesHow could the world of fashion supply revolutionize? Try to imagine a concrete response to the Material Exchange platform

May 10, 2018
Chris Hillyer
Chris Hillyer

Chris Hillyer, Director of Innovation for the Deckers brands, opened his presentation in Hong Kong, which was dedicated to the Material Exchange project, asking everyone: “How did you book your hotel before the trip? Flipping through catalogues in the agency?”. The answer was obviously a clear “no”. From there the reflection on how to change the way in which the world of materials supply proposes its offer and interacts with customers.

In August 2016 a collection of forward-thinking industry professionals began to reimagine how we interact with materials. Rather than the conventional method of sifting through dozens of catalogues to review options, a new approach has been imagined leveraging digital visualization technology as well as advanced filtering capabilities.

The Material Exchange is an online database which allows designers, product developers and material vendors to collaborate, filter and organize the raw materials for their collections all within a secure environment.

Working closely with innovative brands, such as FDRA – the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, PTC (provider of advanced technology solutions) and Allegorithmic (the developer of the Substance program for material texturing), this industry-led platform provides a solution which allows for the rapid visualization of materials, automates data input and improves communication between material suppliers and manufacturers.

Some features: an extreme security that guarantees to suppliers the impossibility of  competitors to visualize their proposals (every user will be, in fact, well identified); detailed company presentation forms; a wide selection of filters (also thickness and price, for example) through which to carry out specific researches; the possibility of creating own material collections; chat directly with the manufacturer; download the file of a material and send it directly to the CAD to evaluate in real time its performance on the prototypes; store a material in your PLM (whatever it is); request a physical sample...

Future developments include the ability to enter information about the sustainability of materials and the opening of the system to third parties who will be able to expand the data range. For example: research laboratories could directly assign certifications following the analysis of real samples; other subjects could add information about the best-selling materials or the most current and interesting trends.

The platform, which is now undergoing a test phase, is used by a small group of brands. It will be available to everyone within this summer. The launch of the site is planned for June 2018.

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