The pilot project between Walmart and Unspun will initially focus on using the Vega 3D fabric weaving technology to produce men’s workwear chinos for the retail giant

Unspun’s Vega 3D fabric weaving technology claims to bypass the traditional methods of apparel production by transitioning straight from yarn to garment and minimising waste throughout the process.

“One big problem with the clothing industry today is that because clothing is made before people want it, excess inventory has to be produced,” said Unspun’s co-founder and chief product officer Beth Esponnette.

Traditional methods of apparel production involve cutting and stitching fabric, resulting in significant waste. This includes fabric loss, excess inventory and transport emissions.

Walmart and Unspun’s project will create skilled jobs in the US, meet consumer demand for locally-made garments and deliver transparency and sustainability in the apparel supply chain.

With ambitions to deploy 3D weaving machines across microsites in the US, Unspun aims to have 350 machines in operation by 2030.

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“We believe that if we can think of the next generation of apparel and build a process that’s much more automated and enables on-demand manufacturing, we can allow an industry that has, more or less, left the US [to] come back,” claimed Kevin Martin, co-founder and chief technology officer at Unspun.

Martin continued: “We were connected with Walmart because, as we start talking about the ability to produce in the US on demand, there are very few people thinking about that as actively as Walmart.”

Walmart’s vision for a greener apparel industry

This initiative aligns with Walmart’s broader sustainability goals, which include transitioning to renewable energy sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain. By leveraging innovative technologies and forging strategic partnerships, Walmart aims to create a more sustainable and efficient future for the apparel industry.

By collaborating with companies like Unspun, Walmart seeks to address the pressing challenges facing the apparel industry while reimagining the future of retail.

This is not the first time Walmart has sought to address the challenges facing the apparel industry. In 2023, the retail chain announced a pilot project with Rubi Laboratories to explore incorporating their patent-pending carbon capture process into its supply chain and convert carbon emissions into thread used in a garment prototype.

“Walmart seeking out a company like ours and collaborating in such a deep manner validates, one, the immensity of the problem, two, the potential of the technology and the solution and three, how pioneering Walmart is,” said Walden Lam, co-founder and chief executive officer at Unspun.

In February, Walmart announced that its supplier development initiative, Walmart Vriddhi, provided training to over 50,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises within India’s domestic supply chain.