It is no secret that modern communication and transportation technologies have come a long way to become what they are today. However, those used in the manufacture of clothes and shoes have even come further and are poised to get even better as newer techniques are developed. It all began with pre-historic humans who used crude tools and we haven’t looked back since. Experts are busy working on a daily basis to come up with technologies that will make the manufacture of apparels and shoes faster, more efficient and sustainable. In this Fashion Timeline, we cover some of the most important cloth and shoe-making technologies. Read on to discover what these are.


For many modern clothe and shoe makers, it is nearly impossible to think of a time when all these items were made by hand. The only tools that were needed were a needle and string, with an occasional hammer. Tedious as it was, there were no alternatives at the time and tailors, alongside shoemakers had to spend a great amount of time and energy making their wares. Despite these challenges, they developed numerous techniques that allowed them to make all sorts of shoe and garment designs. Some of these stitching methods included running, overcast, back and basting stitches. Although it was later abandoned in favor of better techniques, it is still used for minor repairs and among hobbyists.


MANUAL SEWING MACHINEAs the industrial revolution swept through much of Europe, so did the demand for clothes and shoes. It quickly became apparent that the hand stitching techniques could not meet this growing demand. Naturally, it gave way to the manual sewing machine which was invented towards the end of the 18th century. It is hard to think of any other machine that has had a bigger impact on the industry than this one. Their prevalence greatly increased the efficiency and productivity of apparel/shoe makers by cutting time and costs while increasing volumes. Since such machines were made for both domestic and industrial use, they encouraged the mass production of these items within a few years. Furthermore, they made it possible for designers to experiment with more complex designs and stitching methods that they could not before. This led to an increase in the variety of products manufactured.


The development of computers greatly changed how many things were done. The shoe and garment manufacturing industries was one of the very first to feel the impact due to the production of automatic sewing machines. With this newer technology, all the manufacturer has to do is make the designs and feed the machine with the necessary information. These include things such as the type of materials, the design, and the quantity to be produced. The computer would then take over and would perform all the operations including cutting fabrics and leather, stitching, and binding soles to uppers. In addition to this, it allowed the automation of precise operations like dyeing and patterning, thence improving the overall quality of products. No Fashion Timeline can be truly complete without detailing how important these machines have been to the industry.


In the past, and even to an extent today, designing both shoes and garments has been a tedious process. To compound this, prototyping has been a challenge especially for smaller companies which are often unsure how the market would be receptive to new products. All these have been cast aside by the rapid prototyping technologies. Using advanced computer software, a designer can be able to come up with multiple concepts without using a single drop of ink. The process is much faster and more efficient, enabling them to model their designs before they go into production.Even as most companies focus on commercial mass production, they are aware of individual tastes and preferences. They are therefore keen on providing clients with a personal touch by allowing mass customization. This could not have been made possible without these modern technologies that allow the clients to specify what they want. This makes it possible for the manufacturers to offer a better customer experience, thanks to advances in rapid prototyping.


Despite all the developments that have been experienced in textile manufacture, one of the areas that have continually lagged behind is that of dying. The addition of colors to textile is one of the most intensive operations and consumes billions of liters of water annually. However, this is all set to change with the recent development of waterless dying technologies, which are quickly gathering steam. Machines using technologies such as DyeCoo and AirDye are already being utilized in some industries. Although they currently limited to only certain types of fabrics, they are bound to become better and more efficient with time. These technologies have the potential to not only reduce pollution significantly but also to cut the operational costs for shoe and clothe manufacturers.


One of the most mind-blowing technologies yet in the shoes and apparel industry is 3-D printing. This concept has been in development for many years and now that it is finally here, manufacturers are fully embracing it. Manufacturing using this technique involves feeding a 3D printer with the necessary shoe or cloth design and it then prints it in entirety. The ink in this case is the material that you want the item to be made using.This technology has made it possible to manufacture items with geometrical patterns that were simply impossible in the past years. It also allows them to utilize materials that were previously hard to handle while minimizing wastage as there is no stitching or cutting involved. The benefits are simply innumerable and include a great reduction in the manufacture time while allowing a greater degree of customization. Since most 3D printing techniques are still under development, they are likely to offer manufactures a very powerful and efficient tool in the near future.

In conclusion, it is suffice to say that technology is evolving on a daily basis. So do fashion trends and human needs. It therefore remains to be seen what manufacturing techniques will be developed in the future to satisfy these changes and demands. In the mean-time, the ones that are here already are a valuable assets that are testament to how much the industry has evolved.