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Taiwan’s digital fabric database Frontier attracts global fashion and apparel groups in seven months


In April, Taiwan General Textile Technology Company announced a digital fabric collaboration platform called Frontier. In less than seven months, it has already formed partnerships with some of the world’s biggest fashion houses and apparel companies, such as Karl Lagerfeld, Calvin Klein, Zara’s parent company Inditex, US sports equipment company Under Armour, a 3D-printing virtual fashion prototype company Virtuality Fashion, and many more.

The SaaS platform, which was deployed internally as a presentation tool to existing clients for two years before the launch, is an online fabric database where users can scan, upload and share their textile materials with others, and search and select the fabrics that they need. The database currently has more than 20,000 fabrics.

After a user scans the physical fabric and its color card with a standard office scanner, Frontier’s AI function can identify its weight, thickness, weaving patterns, texture, and color code in 40 seconds. Its Amazon Web Services (AWS) function enables users to exchange their digital textile data with supply chains or other designers on the platform.

Frontier not only is cost-effective but also saves time for designers and mills. Traditional apparel pre-production processes take about a year and three months. The initial stage, including finding the right model in fashion week, liaising with manufacturers from around the world, and shipping materials, costs businesses more than one month. Then, it takes another month for material developers to find the right fabric and two months to test the fabric and create the first sample. If the designer doesn’t approve the sample, product developers will have to go through the whole process again. Sometimes, to avoid repeating the lengthy processes, some developers will create one hundred sample items with small variations to make sure the designer can select at least two to three items.

“The process usually takes several months and quite often products are already out of fashion when they are launched, with 40-80% of the items ending up in the inventory,” said Victor Chao, founder of Frontier.

“With Frontier, that month-long fabric search is no longer necessary. In addition, the sample producing process can be reduced from two months to one to two weeks. In the future, fashion prototyping can go entirely online,” he added.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak this year, many businesses have realized the importance of digitization and turned to online vendors. Frontier’s revenue in April has jumped 400% from February’s.

“Suppliers began to realize that Frontier can transform their business digitally by launching their digital assets into the cloud and connect seamlessly with virtual prototyping applications,” said Wayne Fan, chief strategy officer at Frontier.

Looking forward, Chao hopes to become the fashion and textile information hub where manufacturers and designers exchange data about raw material, production, and launch of clothing items. He also hopes to expand the business on an international scale.

Samantha Chan

Samantha Chan is a Hong Kong-born journalist who has taken an interest in Taiwan’s business scene. Over the past three years, she has written for numerous newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong. She is currently studying for a master’s degree in journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.