Nusa Dua, Bali. The International Textile Manufacturers Federation, or ITMF, a forum for the global textiles industry, held its annual meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sept. 14-16, to discuss the emerging trend of technology disruption in the industry.
"Since the financial crisis of 2008, the world has been changing ever faster driven by technological, political and environmental factors," Christian Schindler, the director general of ITMF, said in a statement on Saturday (16/09).
"Many of these factors are disruptive."
According to Schindler, fast fashion and e-commerce have transformed the industry fundamentally, offering new opportunities while at the same time threatening businesses that refuse to adopt new technologies to reach a wider market and produce more efficiently.
"Every part of the textile-related supply chain has to be willing to change when it comes to technology," Edwin Keh, chief executive at the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel, said during a panel at the forum.
Keh explained how customers are now empowered by technology, essentially dictating to manufacturers the type of clothing they would prefer to buy. Web giant Amazon, seeking to take advantage of the intersection between technology and the textiles industry, was recently granted a patent to build an on-demand apparel manufacturing facility.
"We can either be victims, bystanders or participants," Keh said.
"The world trade is moving toward a change where consumers are taking full control," Ade Sudrajat, chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association (API), said.
Indonesia accounts for a significant part of the global textiles industry. According to the Ministry of Industry, the value of the nation's overall textile investment in 2016 amounted to Rp 7.54 trillion ($570 million), producing about 2 percent of the world's textile supply and generating $11.87 billion in foreign exchange reserves.
The global textile industry — which includes sub-segments such as fiber, yarn, fabrics and garments — is currently worth about $3 trillion.
"The production base needs to adjust to the demand by having less inventory, speed to the market and integrated supply chain," Ade said.
About 200 business leaders attended the three-day event. Although there was no guarantee that any transaction would be made during the event, a mid-level manager at a local textile machinery agent told the Jakarta Globe that he made many new contacts from China and India.
A similar meeting will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, next year.
The Globe was invited by online marketplace 88Spares to attend 2017's annual ITMF meeting.