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Consumer-oriented ICT Solutions for creative SMEs providing Art in Bespoke Fashion

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - iART (Consumer-oriented ICT Solutions for creative SMEs providing Art in Bespoke Fashion)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

The fashion industry is undergoing meaningful changes as the clothing and textile branches in the EU are in crisis. The production index is only 88.9% of its value from 2010. Revival of the sector should arise from research and innovative solutions. Artists are also affected by the crisis and have difficulties in supporting oneself from their artistic activity. One of the main reasons for this situation is the lack of means to exploit their work effectively on the market.

The objective of the iART project is to support the clothing and textile industry and visual artists by providing new technical and commercial solutions which enable application of art in fashion. The main goal is to bring visual art into bespoke clothing so to make apparel products more valuable compared to other garments on the market, and to support artists by exploiting their art works. To reach this objective a set of innovative ICT solutions has been developed which helps artists in virtual prototyping and on-line visualizing of all-over print designs. The artist empowers the process, being the one who generates the content by creating and configuring the new pattern in a fully automated model.

Conclusions. The innovative iART program changes the business relationships in the clothing industry along the phase of concept and design from B2B to B2C where artists and consumers connect through an enabling platform. The creative industry in Europe - which is dominated by SMEs - has a significant capability for growth as the internet develops (Büscher 2012). The future of this business is digital and depends on incorporation and the optimal use of the potential of ICT tools. iART is directly connected with digitalization and competitiveness. The project demonstrates that digital approaches to production in the textile and clothing industry are possible in spite of difficulties in design software development involving flexible materials. The project iART is implemented in the framework the EU H2020-program.
The idea of the project is based on an internet shop ( for custom made shirts, and its customer oriented web page. New advanced services have been designed in order to further facilitate and expand the scope of the shops' applicability. The web page has been enhanced with a new generation of 2.5D/3D functionalities and a virtual B2C platform. Easy creation of original patterns with the use of real time rendering and an innovative artist user interface with advanced artist's cockpit constitute the most important ICT iART solutions.

More specifically, following set of innovative integrated ICT solutions has been developed:
(i) Upgrade of the configuration toolkit from 2.5D to 2.5D/3D by including shadowing and rotating features without the need of plug-ins and easy extension of the catalogue to clothing accessories fitting with the shirts. This the application lends itself to be used as a web- service in a server-based setup. It is platform independent, eliminates any manual intervention and features a straightforward workflow including in-line image processing.
(ii) Move to real-time garment design placement and online rendering (fabric draping), so as to enable the artist to visually assess in “real-time” how a new print design would fit to a given item (instant visualization). As a content provider, he can create and configure new content in a fully automated solution. Optimisation of the color-coded input models considerably improved the image quality of the final renderings, yielding a photorealistic look of the simulated result.
(iii) Building of a B2C platform ( enabling co-creation and user generated art content. A cockpit - the Advanced Artist Interface AAI - enables the artist to embed new patterns, create collections, publish designs on the public gallery, monitor messages, follow-up sales and income and more. A consumer interface allows to comment, evaluate and vote. A range of marketplace multivendor extension API’s/plug-ins make it possible for the artists to publish the configured shirts in catalogues hosted on external platforms like marketplaces, social media and artists portals.

The iART platform with its novel ICT tools was thoroughly tested and successfully validated and demonstrated by/to several stakeholders. 2 scientific publications were issued.

The project was extensively disseminated in terms of participation to expositions and social media awareness, as well as presentation to the media and at international conferences, participation to workshops, fairs etc. In addition a major milestone was the presentation of the project in a museum exhibition that was curated especially for the Bivolino business (part of which is the Platform).

An adequate plan for the exploitation of the results will assure a wide impact of the project. This plan includes a sustainable business model, the identification and dissemination of the key exploitable results and the analysis of the IPRs and related risks.
iART is about exploring 2.5D/3D CAD and design ICT tools as well as innovative user interfaces to allow consumer driven interaction between 2 creative industries: art and bespoke fashion.

Fashion companies are always looking for new designs and new product concepts, since creativity is a must to be able to differentiate the offer in a competitive market. It is really important to make quickly available these new designs to consumers who like to have exclusive products which allow them to feel unique. Strategies like bespoke made-to-measure (MTM), high level inkjet fabric printing and creation of limited edition products are just some of the possible ways to fully exploit new approaches to creative value chains. But artists do not have the resources to implement such approaches to art utilization. They need innovative ICT services as advanced enabler for new ways of expression and exploitation of their artworks. With iART the artists and artists communities are given the means to create exclusive products for a wide public. The arts on the internet seem to have a sizable potential. Thus the solutions proposed match the trends already confirmed by the market.

The expected potential impact of this project on the European fashion industry can be summarized as follows:
- Empowering the consumer by providing him a better service through the improved 2.5D/3D configurator capability and user interface and by producing on demand which results in less waste in the supply chain.
- Reducing the cost of production, in particular the cost of prototyping and sampling by consumers (Driven Design).
- Reducing the cost of promotion and marketing, especially in photography and sales collections by means of consumers interaction.
- Shortening the time of completion of the process from design to market dramatically by engaging the consumers.
- Increasing the number of developed models , and the overall choices for the consumers.

It is expected that iART will create extra revenues for artists and the European fashion and Clothing industry. SMEs take up ICT enabling innovative supply-chains to generate more revenues through high-margin made-to-order collections which cannot be imported from mass production countries. Finally, ICT providers are stimulated to offer innovative tools generating new business and turnover. As this sustainable business model is supported by easily accessible advanced ICT tools (through open API’s) it will be replicable and so has the potential to create a wide impact.
4.Structure iART platform
5.Public gallery art shirts
2.Model Acquisition
6.Pattern Placement
3.Real-time design preview
7.Shirts printed with art works
1.iART Project