Meet Anita, our Pattern Engineer
Adapting sewing patterns to customer body measurements is a crucial part of ZyseMe’s mass customization solution. We sat down with our Pattern Engineer, Anita Heiberg, to talk about what drew her to the role and how technology is changing it.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I’ve been sewing since I was a kid so I always thought I would end up working in fashion. I worked in retail while studying fashion design and volunteered at fashion shows. That’s how I got my first real fashion job with a local lingerie designer. I met her while dressing models for her runway show at Fashion Week. Working in an atelier that designed and produced, I really gained an appreciation for product development and all the special tricks sewists develop when they work regularly on one type of fabric or garment.
Why did you want to work at ZyseMe?
I developed an interest in mass customization while studying my masters in sustainable fashion. At the time it was extremely difficult to find strong examples, apart from a few athletic and shoe brands. A lot has changed in the last 7 years and the industry is a lot more open to what ZyseMe offers in terms of personalization and integration with production. Besides that, we have a great team that’s dedicated to our product and the positive impact it can have.
What does a Pattern Engineer do and what drew you to the role?
A Pattern Engineer turns 2D fabric into 3D clothing through the creation of cutting patterns that fit and hang on the body in a beautiful and comfortable way, as well as finding the optimal use of the fabric for that garment. We also coordinate with design and production to ensure garments are brought to market as intended and within budget.
I’ve always loved creating things with my hands and find the particular challenge of making flat patterns and fabric fit around the complex shapes of the body to be especially interesting. It has to look beautiful while allowing the body to move in complex ways.
Describe a typical day for you at ZyseMe.
Most of my days are spent ensuring that our patterns and those of our clients are integrated into our system, liaising with producers to ensure they have all the information they need to produce quickly and efficiently, and finding new ways to provide the best fit for our clients’ customers.
How does your role at a fashion tech startup differ from a more traditional fashion producer?
The fashion industry is simultaneously at the forefront of innovation and stagnating in traditional practices that no longer make sense. Working in fashion tech means that nothing can be taken for granted, no tradition is too sacred, and every process can be challenged. A lot of my work is centered around rethinking how we produce clothing and how to automate it while still retaining the traditions of handcraft that signify a well-made garment.
What impact do you hope ZyseMe will have on the fashion industry?
Mass-produced and standard-sized clothing are not made with the consumer in mind. They are created using production processes that make it easier for manufacturers to make huge amounts of similar products. ZyseMe recenters the customer in the product development process. As we expand our network of producers, we will have more opportunities for small-batch, on-demand products that meet the customer’s preferences, while eliminating the need for massive overstocks.
How else do you see the fashion industry evolving?
Just like we’re seeing in tech startups, some very old business concepts are being rethought with the technology of the 21st century. Since the industrial revolution we’ve been centralizing and growing production to massive amounts by a few big companies. I see a push back towards smaller, localized and interconnected production webs for mass-market products, and a continued growth of small local businesses providing a more human experience. Both enabled by technology and personalization but offering different experiences depending on whether the consumer will interact directly with a human or AI.
How might ZyseMe affect your personal shopping habits in future?
In recent years I’ve tried on a lot of clothing that I loved the style of but the fit was horrible. As brands start to produce more sustainably and with products that are also customized to fit me, I’d be more likely to buy in stores again.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style shifts between slightly masculine business–casual to bright prints and vintage dresses. My favorite piece is a quilted floral bomber jacket I made a few years ago. About 2 years ago I made a conscious decision to try and make or rework the majority of my clothes rather than buying new. I’ve become more and more uninspired with the fashion I see in most stores and want my clothes to be unique. So as an accomplished sewer, it just makes sense to use my skills in this way.