ENGINEERING THE FUTURE OF FASHION
Step inside an old fur coat factory in Montreal and you’ll find a young software company working to reshape the fashion industry. Stefanka digitizes body data to help shoppers navigate through thousands of clothing options and instantly find the right cut, style and size for them. The end goal? Drastically reducing inefficiencies across the apparel supply chain and ushering the fashion industry into a more sustainable era.
Fashion’s Ugly Truth
Beneath all the beauty and glamour of fashion lies an ugly truth: the fashion industry is one of dirtiest in the world, second only to oil. According to a recent report by the Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group, the sector’s CO2 emissions are expected to balloon by more than 60%, to nearly 2.8 billion tonnes per year by 2030. Fast fashion relies heavily on labour and raw materials, both of which make the industry particularly vulnerable to changes in the environment.
Fashion production is now plowing through resources at a faster pace than ever. At the same time, the constantly changing sea of options and trends makes it harder for consumers to figure out which sizes, cut and style are right for them. The after-effects of unplanned mass production make matters even worse: 73% of the world’s clothing ends up in landfills, less than 15% of clothes are recycled and less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing.
The Company’s Roots
With such a massive production of clothes, why is it still hard and time-consuming for shoppers to find the right size? How come brands aren’t adapting their operational structures to better meet the not-so-distant challenges of climate change? Wouldn’t they want to reduce expenses caused by wasted fabric, unsold inventory and returns? Are they not seeing the impending rising costs and restrictions on crops, water and fossil fuels? Those are the questions Elizabeth Stefanka asked herself back in 2014 when thinking about founding her company—one that would leverage technology to address the inefficiencies of the apparel industry.
How to Transform an Industry
The platform developed by Stefanka uses shoppers’ body measurements to help them instantly find the right fit for any piece of clothing. Whether shopping in brick-and-mortar locations or online stores, the platform puts product and sizing recommendations right at consumers’ fingertips. Not only do they get the right fit, but they also enjoy a consistent and engaging shopping experience every time they shop, at any location.
Every time consumers interact with the platform, retailers and manufacturers get new, valuable data they can use to revolutionize the way they do business. For instance, hyper-accurate body dimension data allows garment makers to adapt their design to the morphology of specific populations and regions, increasing the likelihood that their products will move off the shelves. It also lets them better predict how much fabric they’ll need, how many garments to produce in each size and which ones are likely to sell at full price, reducing waste and boosting their bottom line. For retailers, it means happier customers who like what they’re wearing, which translates into reduced expenses and lower carbon emissions for delivery and returns.
Stefanka’s size management technology also offers major advantages to uniform suppliers. Traditionally, uniform suppliers send staff out to their clients’ locations to take body measurements by hand. By digitizing their fitting assistance, they can greatly reduce the need for this costly and time-consuming service. Digital body data also empowers suppliers to better anticipate made-to-measure sizes, deliver them in record-breaking time or outright eliminate the need for them. And with accurate data, warehouse management and order fulfillment can re-calibrate their activities according to demand. Increasingly, uniform companies have come to embrace sizing technologies, which, combined with the retail sector, can launch the fashion industry’s transformation toward more sustainable practices.
About the Founder
Elizabeth Stefanka is the CEO and founder of Stefanka Inc. She worked in seven differentcountries before launching her company in 2014. Elizabeth holds a master’s degree in International Business from HEC Montréal and a bachelor’s degree in Consumer Science from Laval University in Canada. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Elizabeth also attended HEC Montréal’s Summer School of Management, Creativity and Innovation, completed an undergraduate degree at the European Packaging School in France and studied fashion design in Quebec City. She is currently based in Montreal, Canada.