Objectives and achievements of Ishtar

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Innovative SHop for Textile and AppaRel industries

The Ishtar project pertains to the European textile-clothing sector and aims to test new technologies in the production of "made-to-measure" garments. The injection of technology to realize "made-to-measure" garments at an industrial level has the purpose to offer the customers a strongly custom-made service at reasonable costs and time.

The "made to measure" approach is one of the ways identified at a European level to face  the competition with countries with low labour costs; besides, it allows this industrial sector to shift from an offer-driven approach to the production on demand, resulting in clear benefits for the consumers and a drastic reduction of stocks and unsold goods.

For these reasons the EDP structures of HITMAN and COIN were strongly involved in the definition of the architecture and in the validation of the system, together with the technology suppliers of the project.

The Ishtar Project is partially funded by the Innovation programme of the IV Framework Programme of the European Commission.

Description and objectives of the project

The project realizes a system of production and sale for "made to measure" garments. It is Internet-based and unifies the procedures and the supports of three sale channels: the traditional one in shop, the one carried on through a network of sales representatives to customer's home and the third one directly by Internet.

In the process implemented by the system, the final consumer chooses the garment (alone or with the aid of sale staff, according to the distribution channel), by selecting, from an electronic catalogue, the model, the fabric, the accessories and the personalizations.

To guarantee the delivery time, only the choice of fabrics is allowed, the availability of which is previously checked, through exchanging of XML booking messages, with the producer’s warehouse.

The system supports the collection of measures (that can be the ones referred to the customer's body or modifications on a reference model) and of the adaptations necessary to the model, using also a 3D body scanning system (when in shop); however, the reliability of the measurements is checked using a control knowledge base.

Once the order is completed, the producer's information management system acquires it and launches it into production, and, starting from the chosen basic model, automatically prepares the customised nexting plan of the fabric for the cutting machines.


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 Organizational impact

The system directly involves two actors of the Textile/Clothing supply chain: the Garment Supplier and the Retailer, allowing them to exchange complex orders by electronic way and to optimise the sale by sharing information about the available fabrics in the store.

Considering the distribution, the innovation can be seen on several perspectives: at the beginning, a commercial structure can easily start offering a ”made to measure” service without changing the organisation of the existing sale channel, considering the system as a flexible and self explaining support; in perspective, however, it is possible that the marketing policies can create far more sophisticated and fanciful synergies between the various sale channels.

A flexibility element lies in the fact that the two sides of the system, vendor and producer, are technologically independent and only constrained to exchange messages in XML format according to a quite simple procedure.

The experimentation of the system has foreseen the involvement of two different sale organizations and a producer of “made to measure” garments  (that are pilot users of the project) during regular sale operations with real customers.

  Critical points

A first critical point is the virtual representation of the garment and, above all, of the fabric. The adoption of sophisticated technologies has been balanced and verified with the aim to have an easy updating of the catalogue (every 6 months about 150 fabrics change) and to use simple standard browser for the visualization.

The second one is that of versatility and opening towards other actors: at the moment, international standards for data exchange,  between producers and distribution, to represent the data of  “made to measure” garments,  do not exist; the system uses XML messages of public format to allow any company to send or receive the orders, either if provided with automated information management systems or with human operators entrusted to read and switch them.

At last, the use of Internet as sale channel (the only case in which the final customer is alone in front of the monitor): this channel has been considered remunerative only if activated in synergy with other sale channels.


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