United By Blue, a US-based apparel company, have upended the manual design processes behind its textile production and cite EFI’s Fiery DesignPro as the driving force behind subsequent sales successes.

Situated in the Pennsylvanian city of Philadelphia, the eco-friendly company recently made the move towards an automated textile design process that has helped to save time, increase sales and implement in-house design operations, Brendan Rauth, men’s apparel designer at United By Blue says.

The move to automated processes through innovative software within the textiles industry is a trend increasing in popularity, though many established companies still rely on manual ways to create and source textiles. When Rauth found employment at United By Blue in 2016 the company was similarly reliant on manual processes and had no textile design software in place.

“We were doing everything manually, sending it out to third parties or not doing it at all,” Rauth says. “We had to manually pitch every colour. We worked with factories around the globe, and when you sent pitches, they likely wouldn’t see them for 12 hours. Then, it would be another 12 hours before we got their feedback. You could lose a whole day.”

Eager to test new software, the men’s apparel designer chose to trial EFI’s Fiery DesignPro. The software is a plug-in for the Adobe Creative Suite that “gives designers the ability to handle complex processes”. Rauth says a successful, simplified process was implemented soon after with colour automation, easy data input and simplified scaling representing a few reasons for this. Financial success followed, too, according to the company.

Previously, United By Blue’s yarn-dyed plaid offering had been a minor source of sales – the design of which was outsourced. By utilising automated textile design software, Rauth was able to move operations in-house to develop new plaid designs that better aligned with the apparel company’s aesthetic and branding. Subsequently, the designer witnessed a rise in popularity and sales, the company says.

“We used to just buy what was available in the market, but now we design our own plaids,” says Rauth. “Plaids have gone from being a minor business for United By Blue to one of our leading categories, especially in the fall.”

Through the use of automated tools and by discarding manual methods, United By Blue says its design processes, including colour pitching and repeat pattern creation, have become much smoother. Rauth says the automation of the company’s processes made big waves among the team and the intricacies of the work. Most notably, connectivity was increased through the EFI software and the design process became georedundant, the company adds.

“If you have a large team, even one spread across the globe, you can quickly update everyone’s colour palettes rather than having to do it computer-by-computer,” Rauth says. Since United By Blue works around seasonal palettes, this was a ‘huge’ win for saving time and manual labour.

Given United By Blue’s extensive eco-friendly goals, time is of the essence. For every item sold, employees promise to pick up a pound of rubbish floating along coastal or inland waterways. So far, the company has removed 1.5 mn pounds under the initiative. Most recently, United By Blue collaborated with Canadian footwear manufacturer, Sole, to design a sustainable shoe.