AI and machine learning are transforming the garment industry and providing opportunities for enhanced fabric inspection capability.

Fabric inspection is a vital but delicate part of the garment production process. It forms part of the quality control process, which includes a series of tests and inspections to ensure garments are made to production standards and client specifications. Traditional fabric inspection methods are both slow and spotty, merely involving a visual examination of materials to catch obvious flaws. This can result in poor-quality clothing and costly product recalls. As consumers increasingly expect high-quality products produced both quickly and sustainably, the inadequacy of manual fabric inspection has become glaringly obvious.

How AI changes the clothing industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term for machines that attempt to simulate human intelligence, while machine learning refers to the use of algorithms and data to update information and become smarter. Due to advances in AI technology and machine learning, robots and intelligent machines are rapidly replacing human workers. AI is becoming increasingly common across all industries because it can achieve results and see things that we cannot, such as bruises beneath the skin of fruit in the food industry.

AI has become increasingly widespread in the garment industry over the past two decades, with AI fabric inspection machines now identifying product defects in record time. AI fabric inspection machines use powerful lights and high-resolution cameras to capture images of each garment processed, using machine learning to compare real-time photos to its vast fabric database.

The cost of bad fabric checks

Here are the three main ways fabric inspection issues impact garment manufacturers.

  • Fabric inspection fails cause huge financial fallout

Even large fashion brands can fall victim to quality control issues. In 2013, five batches of the global fashion company Forever 21’s garments had color fastness issues, where colors are prone to fade or rub off onto other fabrics. The garments passed quality control checks after being reworked—but just imagine the cost involved in hauling thousands of garments back to the factory, fixing the problem, and then reshipping. Forever 21 eventually closed all of its China-based stores in 2019, with poor product quality cited as one reason for their demise. To avoid a similar hit, garment manufacturers should implement tight quality control and fabric inspection procedures—and incorporate AI for maximum reliability.

  • Fabric inspection issues slow down output

Garment manufacturers work hard to meet tight deadlines and high demand. At first glance, cutting corners on quality control may seem to help reduce turnaround time. If rushed quality control leaves fabric issues undetected, however, then production can only be delayed. Whether they stem from oversight or human error, fabric inspection issues force manufacturers to reinspect and rework the entire batch, stalling the entire production line.

  • Fabric inspection issues damage factory reputations

Perhaps even worse than high costs and output delays, fabric inspection issues can ruin the relationship between garment manufacturers and retail store managers. There are thousands of garment manufacturers to choose from—there are over 45 million garment workers in India alone, where the garment and textile industry is the third-largest employer. It would be incredibly naive of garment manufacturers to assume retailers won’t look elsewhere if they are unhappy with the quality of product they receive.

How AI makes fabric checks better

Now that we’ve seen how poor fabric inspection practices negatively impact garment production, let’s look at how AI improves it.

  • AI fabric inspection reduces the risk of human error

Traditional fabric inspection relies on the human eye to spot fabric imperfections. AI fabric inspection devices compare fabric to thousands of stored images of ideal fabric and quickly flag any non-matches. AI fabric inspections render unreliable labor-intensive manual checks obsolete, reducing the risk of oversight due to fatigue or other sources of human error.

  • Increased accuracy saves garment manufacturers money

AI fabric inspection machines save garment manufacturers money by detecting defects early. Machine learning technology constantly updates the image database used, which improves inspection accuracy and ensures repeat errors are avoided. This way, textile manufacturers can rectify mistakes before products are shipped, which reduces the risk of costly product recalls.

  • Durable AI fabric inspection machines can bear intense factory conditions

AI fabric inspection machines can withstand challenging factory conditions and process high amounts of fabric for many hours, which is simply impossible for ordinary human workers. AI fabric inspection machines also process fabrics far more quickly than manual workers, which, along with increased inspection accuracy, allows garment manufacturers to take on larger orders and increase their processing capacity.

  • Remote data access gives management greater control over production

Integrated systems and machines communicate with each other to produce production reports and show factory managers which processes are running at a sub-par level. Quality control pass and fail reports allow managers to tweak inspection parameters to improve quality. AI fabric inspection machines empower factory managers to access data remotely and make decisions on the go.

  • AI fabric inspection machines streamline the workforce

One AI fabric inspection machine can do the work of multiple staff at a higher accuracy rate without getting tired. Garment production managers can streamline the quality control department and send staff to other factory areas, thereby improving productivity and efficiency on the factory floor.


Due to the high standards of today’s consumers, it’s critical for garment manufacturers to implement the best fabric inspection methods possible. Fortunately, AI fabric inspection machines can help manufacturers maintain both high product quality and timely output.

Unlike human workers, machines can work for hours without making fatigue-related errors. AI technology boosts the quality of fabric inspections and quickly registers failures for staff to deal with. Opting for AI fabric inspection also reduces costs associated with product recalls and damage control. Moreover, it frees up quality control staff to work in other production areas, which boosts efficiency in other departments while lowering labor costs. Armed with AI fabric inspection machines, garment manufacturers can feel confident to take on larger orders and scale up production.

Boasting a defect identification rate of more than 90 percent, OSHIMA’s range of AI fabric inspection machines is constantly improved by machine learning and frequent database updates. Contact us today to learn how AI technology can transform the output and profit potential of garment manufacturers.