The Many Ways 3-D Technology Is Changing Fashion
The IHL Group, a global research and analysis company, has reported a loss of $8.4 billion annually for fashion and retail due to returns for wrong sizing and fit. This makes 3-D technology for fashion and retail one of the fastest-growing technologies, with proven value for design and product development as well as consumer engagement.
3-D technology encompasses 3-D scanning, printing, CAD/CAM and virtual reality and is used in many phases of the product lifecycle, from design and product development to fit and quality testing.
Traditionally, designers worked with sketches drawn on paper and draping fabrics on a dress form. Today, fashion designers are using 3-D design tools to create both 2-D and 3-D illustrations and visualizations. Digital mannequins are now used to drape fabrics, not only saving time but also gaining accuracy.
3-D modeling of a garment or footwear is used prior to product development, which allows for fast digital iterations and increased accuracy, which of course also saves money. Adidas, the sportswear and athletic footwear brand, developed the first 3-D printed mid-sole as a component in a ready-to-wear shoe, tailored specifically to the needs of the individual end user and manufactured on-demand.
Patternmakers use 3-D garment simulation to test their pattern blocks and grading to make sure that the patterns are aligned to the fit model. Body scans create the avatar, which greatly reduces any chance of misinterpretation. Draping of fabric and how it sits on different body types becomes easy. These digital models and product designs can also be used in the sales process to show customers and buyers product designs in 3-D.
Who’s using this technology today? According to a recent report in the Associated Press on how 3-D tech is upending the fashion world, there are many brands taking advantage of this progressive technology.
Levi Strauss & Co. is using it in its development facility, where designers are making changes to 3-D rendered designs and sending digital files to the factory for mass production, shortening the design time to one week or less.
Tommy Hilfiger, the iconic lifestyle brand, is using an interactive 3-D touch-screen table where buyers can view every item in a collection and create custom orders.
The UGG brand, known for its sheepskin boots, is using digital-design iterations of its classic boot in multiple colors, eliminating the need for samples in each color, helping to reduce costs and increase speed.
Here are some of the pre-eminent technology solutions for 3-D modeling and design for the apparel and footwear markets:
• Lectra Moderis 3D Fit is a virtual modeling and design prototype solution for physical samples, grading and fit sessions.
• Gerber Accumark 3D is a design solution that visualizes samples, patterns and fit sessions.
• EFI Optitex Pattern Making recently launched the 3D Design Illustrator to validate and customize 3-D garments in Adobe Illustrator.
• Tuka3D by Tukatech is a design software tool for virtual fit, sample management and buyer presentations. The company also offers fit-model scanning, creating an animated model that can run, dance and move for more accurate fit testing.
• Browzwear offers a few different models. VStitcher is a 3-D virtual prototype for technical designers and patternmakers. It converts 2-D patterns into 3-D models and prototypes. Lotta is a 3-D fashion-design solution that takes 2-D designs into Adobe Illustrator to produce 3-D images.
• Romans CAD is specifically for footwear and leather goods, offering 3-D prototyping and modeling for the details of soles, uppers and lasts.
• Adobe Illustrator is embedded or integrated into the majority of PLM solutions on the market today precisely for its 3-D object-creation capabilities. Such PLM providers as Visual Next are integrating Adobe to allow designers to work in 3-D to save on PLM.
• [TC]² Labs, Size Stream and TelMat SymCAD III all offer 3-D body scanners. [TC]² has collected 12,000 scans of women and men in the United States, delivering size data to the apparel industry with its SizeUSA database. Scanners come in the form of booths, handhelds and scales and vary in size and price.
Solving the fit issues with 3-D technology delivers value to manufacturers, retailers and consumers. This innovative technology is definitely one that is here to stay.