After the Pyer Moss fashion show last September, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond didn’t have to scramble to take orders from boutiques and forecast demand. That’s because he manufactures all of his garments with Resonance, a five-year-old, on-demand fashion production company that uses design software, automated cutting machines, and an army of sewers to make apparel only after a customer has placed an order. Rebecca Minkoff and Tucker are among the 20 brands currently using Resonance, which has already manufactured more than 100,000 units.
Last year the company also helped 11 Black designers launch their labels with a $50,000 grant and free access to the platform. “Our vision is to allow designers to focus on what they do best, creating, without needing the manufacturing resources of legacy brands,” says co-founder Lawrence Lenihan.
This year, the brand will launch a QR code on its garments that will allow the customer to trace the origins of the materials and even watch videos of their garment being made on the factory line. Here’s how Resonance works.
Designers can either send in paper patterns for Resonance to digitize or use the platform’s design software to create virtual silhouettes, which can be made in one of more than 60 raw, uncolored materials—all of them natural, such as silk and organic cotton—that Resonance keeps at its factory in the Dominican Republic.
Brands can market their designs before they even begin manufacturing them by posting their digitally-rendered garments on their websites.
When a customer places an order, Resonance’s machines in the Dominican Republic use digital printing to apply colors and patterns to the selected fabric then laser cut the garment’s shape. Instructions for how to sew the item are embedded into the seams of the cut pieces.
The pieces of cut fabric are sent to a team of local sewers, who turn them into the final garment. Eventually, Resonance wants to create sewing outposts around the world and use a cloud-based logistic platform that would allow them to ship items directly to customers’ doors.
The item is shipped to the customer within 10 days. This system allows brands to avoid holding any inventory, saving them overhead costs and ensuring they are not saddled with unsold stock at the end of the season.
If a customer returns an item, Resonance identifies potential problems with the design, such as sizing errors or a misleading color, and sends feedback to the brand, which can begin addressing the problem in real time.
For more on Fast Company’s list of the top 10 Most Innovative Companies in retail, click here.