Technology is changing our world in every aspect. Thanks to the help of artificial intelligence, 3D scanning, and 3D modeling, the design process of the fashion industry have changed a lot. Artificial intelligence enhances customers' shopping experience. With the help of 3D scanning technology, company and start-ups can record the whole body shape of their customer and create tailor-made apparel for them.
We have invited Rita Tam, an experienced lecturer in the Macau Productivity and Transfer Center, which organized many courses and workshops about fashion, to chat with us. We have talked about how technology has been influencing this industry and how other experienced tailors think about the technology trend in the industry. In addition, I also asked about the current status of fashion in Macau.
Do you think that the Macau government has provided sufficient support for the fashion industry, such as the functions and courses held by CPTTM?
As far as I know, the Macau government is very supportive. As CPTTM is a non-profit organization, we are already a crucial part of this industry. As you can see, many of our courses and activities are sponsored by the government. Without the government's support, there will not be organizations like us in the first place.
Will it be challenging to implement events like Macau Fashion Week?
Actually, no, because Macau Fashion Week is an event we have implemented for more than ten years. We are mainly co-organizing it with the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. As it is part of a large international exhibition, the support of all parties is therefore sufficient and impressive. I think people in Macau who like Fashion will definitely appreciate it. You can notice the importance of fashion to a place by observing how much support the government has by holding an event like Fashion Week every year, how many local people in Macau like it, and how active it is with other foreigners. The scale of the Macau Fashion Week is enormous. If you are in Macau next year, you should participate, and you would love it. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic in the last two years, foreign participants have decreased tremendously. In the past, we would have guests from other places such as Guinea, Portuguese, and other Portuguese-speaking countries. Designers from these countries did a crossover with local brands in Macau. It is very precious that so many foreign designers participate in the fashion show in such a small place in Macau. You can find designers that have participated in the Macau Fashion Week before on our website.
In your opinion, which part of the fashion industry is Macau focusing on? (e.g., design, crafting, production, etc.)
I think the main focus of the industry in Macau nowadays will be creativity and innovation. Macau is definitely not as good as the mainland in terms of production. There is no way for us to achieve their colossal production. That's why designers in Macau mainly sell their creative designs. There are many brands in Macau, accessories, clothing, etc. So I think they mainly sell their innovative designs. They will not keep a lot of stocks. They will only produce their product if someone shows interest in them.
Do you think there is an increasing interest in the fashion industry among teenagers in Macau?
Due to many factors, such as the pandemic, teenagers cannot travel anymore. They are forced to stay at home, and some of them will feel that they need to learn some skills. Fashion is one of the popular things that they want to learn. They would like to explore their talent in this area and whether they are suitable for this industry. And this few years is a perfect time for them to do so. This year, we have held many different courses, and the participants are very enthusiastic. We are confident that teenagers in Macau are very interested in many different aspects of fashion.
Do you know which specific course has the most significant number of participants?
In fact, professional makeup is a top-rated course in our center. I think courses related to production are more popular if it is about fashion. The satisfaction and fulfillment you get from making real clothes are different from designing them on paper. Courses such as children's clothes, cheongsam, and nightdresses are all very popular.
In recent years, I have found that CPTTM has more workshops and courses on fashion-related innovation and technology. Could you explain the reason for the center to promote these courses?
The main reason for promoting this course is to help local designers. It is very difficult for a local designer to manufacture a sample of their designs in Macau. Our organization can come in handy. For example, he wants to do something creative on this shirt, such as putting a name on a dress, adding a logo on a top hat. You cannot do this in Mainland as the quantity is too small. Also, if they don't have such an interpersonal network, it will be challenging to find a suitable factory to help them. We hope to play this role and help them to create samples. Let's say a designer wants to make 100 pieces. He can make a few of them in our center first. If the customer is buying and appreciates his design, he can approach factories to mass-produce it. On the other hand, if you do not have access to this kind of technology, it isn't easy to attract designers to use them. For example, suppose we can't produce embroidery in our center, and we can't produce printing cloth. In that case, local designers will not consider adding an element to their design to stimulate their thinking.
I have noticed that some start-ups use artificial intelligence and 3D scanning technology to tailor clothes for customers. Do you think this kind of clothes made by technology can replace clothes sewn by traditional tailors?
I won't consider it as replacing traditional methods. Actually, there is a Hong Kong company came to Macau and held a workshop with us before. They told us what their machine does. For example, there is a factory with hundreds of thousands of people. This machine can come in handy. Using this machine to scan the employee's body, the factory can quickly determine the size of uniform they should wear, which can save a lot of resources and time. Let's take another approach looking at the skills. It is definitely irreplaceable. When a tailor measures the dimension of your body, direct contact with your human body can give them much information about you. I think it should be viewed in different perspectives.
"When a tailor measures the dimension of your body, direct contact with your human body can give them much information about you. I think it should be viewed in different perspectives.”
You mention that it's a matter of craftsmanship. Could you further develop on that?
I think that those devices are still machines. According to the information provided by the supplier, the accuracy of the 3D scanning still has room for improvement. The surface of a human body will not be smooth and flat, and an experienced tailor has to touch it to feel it. It may be a slightly larger muscle on the left side of the forearm, and the tailor will consider it when designing clothes for you. For example, if the master knows the client's work involves significant movement in the arms, he will adjust the silhouette to fit his client's needs. This kind of practice creates more humane and more personalized apparel.
Do you think 3D software like CLO can fully simulate how a piece of clothing will feel when made? Does it have an irreplaceable role in the manufacturing of clothes?
This software has become more and more popular in recent years, and our centers have started to organize lectures and courses on it. I also learn this software personally. Overall, I think this software is excellent, especially for teenagers who are more comfortable operating a computer than drawing in reality. It might need over ten years of experience to learn how to make a pattern, but nowadays, you only need to spend 20 hours to learn this software. With this software, you can instantly change your design and view the outcome. For example, you can change an A-line skirt into a shredded dress and immediately see the effect on the computer. This dramatically increases the sense of satisfaction and achieves high efficiency. It is very difficult for an individual to spend decades mastering a skill, unlike in the past. Nowadays, with the help of this kind of technology, young designers can design clothes with skills or techniques that they haven't mastered.
“It is very difficult for an individual to spend decades mastering a skill, unlike in the past. Nowadays, with the help of this kind of technology, young designers can design clothes with skills or techniques that they haven't mastered.”
Similar to the previous question. Will there be a difference between the paper pattern created using this software or an experienced tailor?
Of course, there will be differences. Sometimes creativity and techniques may not be compatible with each other. In the software, you can design in any way you want. However, there will be practical problems. There may be many small details that are hard to accomplish, and these are where the techniques and skill sets acquired by experience come in handy. After so many years of accumulation, they know how to create the most comfortable shirt to wear on the human body. There is no way this experience can be replaced, and it also takes a lot of time to accumulate.
Passionate design student studying in a design related major in HKUST. Also highly interested in all different areas of design and art. Especially interested in fashion.