Fighting Fast Fashion with Big Data: A Chat with Gonçalo Cruz, PlatformE's Co-founder
PlatformE is a technology company on a mission to drastically reduce overproduction and waste in the Fashion Industry.
PlatformE was founded to help brands sell to digital consumers in this evolving world and produce products in precise quantities. After extensive research, the company built the best technological stack using 3D product visualization, 3D product configuration, and supply chain technology to make on-demand fashion possible.
In 2015 the tech startup set out to build the best product personalization experience that connected complex sales and design processes for a shoe brand that builds and sells highly configurable products.
In the following year, the company was backed by TLF Ventures, Amorim, and Natalie Massenet (Net-a-Porter’s Founder), and the team launched a B2B tech platform to serve the Fashion Industry and later changed the name to PlatformE.
In 2017, PlatformE entered the two major luxury groups LVMH and Kering, serving more than 20 brands.
PlatformE recognized the sustainable impact and convergence of 3D, personalization, customization, made-to-order, and the value of eliminating the silos between sales, engineering, and manufacturing. Ultimately, the company became the go-to solution for every fashion brand that wants to sell personalized items on-demand and efficiently. The comprehensive software platform elevates the selling experience and streamlines production, providing scalability, consistency, and control over the entire made-to-order process.
Recently, PlatformE started extending its capacity to the supply chain. The company acquired Springkode to accelerate the connection between brands and digital-ready manufacturers and spearhead Industry 5.0.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
The idea came from an experiment we did alongside José Neves – Founder of Farfetch – back in 2015, when we created a 3D personalization experience for the shoe label Swear. We started to offer to the Swear customer the possibility to customize the shoes to their likings and offer that in an omnichannel experience, online and offline.
With that, we created our technological stack that comprises Future of Fashion Retail and Production with: Full 3D product visualization, Customization, and personalization experiences, Custom order preview and factory connection, Real time data and visibility, and Omnichannel integration.
How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
This recent global event exposed the fragility of fashion’s global supply chains and the inventory excess that pre-pandemic production models can cause. Overproduction is the biggest challenge that the Fashion industry faces nowadays, and it has negative impacts both in the economics and environmental aspects.
Therefore, there is a growing need to innovate fashion’s supply chains and fashion executives are expressing intent to transform the supply chain as a result. Producing excess products that do not sell wastes money that could be spent elsewhere, leading to risky discounting and an increase in inventory. Discounting inventory to clear it out reduces margins and erodes brand value. It encourages bargain-hunting shoppers to always look for lower-cost alternatives.
E-commerce has naturally grown as the biggest trend in Fashion for the past decade and the next step in this digital acceleration is 3D digital fashion and on-demand manufacturing. Consumers want more from their digital product experiences. And, to win today, brands must give them the ability to customize, personalize, and optimize their goods to meet their specific requirements. We have proved that personalized goods can be designed, sold, and produced faster and more efficiently than ever before.
As the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation for Fashion and forged this new digital-savvy consumer, we saw our business demands grow as the digital made-to-order sales of our clients grew.
What can we hope to see from PlatformE in the future?
We are continuously improving our products and increasing our offerings of services that will back up our ambitious goal of accelerating Fashion digital transformation towards more sustainable practices. In this mission to end overproduction and waste in the Fashion Industry, you will not only see big announcements regarding our mass customization capacity but also on how we are extending our capabilities to the supply chain. We are amplifying our worldwide network of factories that can produce fashion on-demand and creating our concept of the Factory of the Future.
This is an innovative production model that can be replicated in any manufacturing facility (for footwear, accessories, apparel) that streamlines on-demand production in an agile and cost-efficient way. We will have our model Factory of the Future up and running in Portugal in the second half of 2021 and use it as the ultimate example of Industry 5.0.
On another innovation stream, we are very excited about the projects that our business unit Skinvaders is putting into the market. The collision between Fashion and Games is one of the biggest trends in both sectors and what SKINVADERSdoes is precisely bridging these two worlds together, at scale. We are creating skins for major Fashion brands (such as DKNY, PUMA and Mr. & Mrs. Italy) and adding them to gaming platforms.
Fashion is finally seeing the billion-dollar potential that the game industry has and using this as a strategy for brand activation in a completely new realm, connecting the brand to a new generation of consumers. Game developers are also looking up to Fashion brands as a new marketing channel and monetization stream with in-game purchases.