A rapid-fire with swatchbook Founder and CEO, Yazan Malkosh
Founded in 2017, the US California based company focuses on providing visually engaging software, data, & services to apparel, footwear, fashion & home-goods industries, helping designers to address faster go to market strategies, consumer insight engagement & material/process sustainability via virtual sampling. swatchbook has on boarded a number of leading global brands including Target, New Balance, WWW, PINK (LVMH), KEEN, ALDO, BruTex and PUMA and is hosting over 50,000 source-able materials from over 150+ enterprise fabric suppliers and tanneries.
What’s the main mission of swatchbook?
Swatchbook’s main mission is to help make digitized materials visualization a standard process of the product design workflow and for swatchbook to be the golden standard of that process. While we have adjusted our roadmap slightly with the maturation of the industry taking longer than it should, it seems to have finally converged into the ultimate vision we had set back in 2017.
How is swatchbook changing the relationship between suppliers, manufacturers and the brand?
There is an inherent need to be digitally connected and rely less and less on manual data entry. It is becoming a synchronous stream of data up and down the production process with better transparency across the board.
How easy is it to implement swatchbook’s technology and how long does it take to start using it?
You can start using swatchbook out of the box immediately. We’ve designed the tool to work on its own off the shelf while providing those with larger integration aspirations an extremely powerful & integration ready restAPI backend.
What are the major benefits and disruptors to the current ways of managing material sourcing and storage?
Time savings is the primary motivator for any brand or suppliers. The less time you wait, the faster you’re able to fulfill your client’s needs which means faster to market.
Sustainability of material waste. Cutting down on material and product sampling any level is better for all of us!
Data insight will be key as people can track all the needs and changes which have been a bit siloed at the brands. This brings better insight to the suppliers which will inform their production and sales cycles.
What do you customers say about using digital material libraries—what do they like the most about it?
They love that it’s instant. They love that they can reorganize their library in multiple ways. They love that they can do it from anywhere in the world… even if all they have is their phone.
How do you see this evolving in the next 5 years?
Using digital materials first will be the standard. You won’t waste your time or your supplier’s time with physical sampling before deciding on virtual samples. It’s just common sense.
How can SME brands adopt the same technology?
If anything, SME can adopt even quicker because they don’t have the burden of huge legacy content and data to translate. In fact we even tell our larger enterprise customers, start small and start with what’s coming next.
What other technology partners does swatchbook work with and how?
swatchbook is an agnostic platform which means we work with everyone. If you need to manage materials, swatchbook is the tool for you. If you’re a part of the design process, then swatchbook is the tool to sync with. We are simply making the flow of material information streamlined efficiently. Both from suppliers to brands and brands to suppliers. From the early days, we realized for swatchbook to succeed it needed to work with all the players, whether you’re working with tools like Vizoo or X-Rite to scan materials or Clo3D or Vstitcher to virtualize your designs or even Adobe products, swatchbook works will all of these and beyond, making sure you succeed in your ultimate goal—a better digital design process.
What do you see to be the main blockers for mass industry adaptation at this point and why?
Knowing that tools like swatchbook exist and that digital transformation exists. Most brands simply aren’t aware of what’s possible primarily because they haven’t gone through the process. Due to the lack of knowledge, the knee jerk reaction usually starts with cost. And while there is cost associated with digitization, that cost over a short period of time becomes marginal. Imagine all the travel, shipping, material show, sample creation and shipping that needs to be done today… Yeah. Exactly! There is a great article about digitization and what’s happening during COVID that outlines a great list of challenges and benefits even in such a challenging time as this pandemic.
How can we fast forward this?
We can all educate our colleagues, peers, customers & anyone in the industry about digital transformation. Once people see it in action, they realize it’s the future of our industry.
What are the main things a fashion brand should consider when thinking of subscribing to your platform?
Set an achievable objective in a reasonable timeline. 3-6 months is a good start
Engage key people in your organization that would be the internal champions to drive change in the brand
Engage with key suppliers that would also set the standard for the rest of your supply chain
Give yourself a chance to learn about what swatchbook could do for you as we also learn about your design process. This exploration leads both sides to better understand what a larger long term rollout should be like. Each brand is unique in its design process and personality. We work together to address those needs as a team, swatchbook, the brand and their suppliers.