The challenges faced by today’s fashion brands are many and well documented. However, new technologies offer workflows that can significantly improve a brands bottom line, time-to-market and environmental footprint. Implementing a 3D design workflow, especially when integrated with traditional ones, represents one of the best opportunities for brands to be able to revolutionise their product development and sampling process.
The purpose of the AFC FashTech Lab is to present and trial 3D design workflows where participating fashion businesses can discover the benefits and reach new potentials within their supply chain in a frictionless and cost effective way. Meet the AFC FashTech Lab Technology brands, who throughout the program's duration will be guiding the nine fashion businesses through every step of their digital sampling strategies and workflows.
Bandicoot digitises fabrics for the fashion industry. Using Shimmer Scan you can easily turn the materials library at your brand into digital fabrics, with photoreal colour, gloss and texture, ready for use in 3D fashion design software.
Q1. What are the quick wins of implementing digital fabric development and production from a sustainability perspective?
Digital fabrics, in the context of a digital sampling workflow, can significantly reduce material waste and carbon dioxide production. For a textile mill, a high-quality digital fabric can reach hundreds of potential buyers compared to the limited impact of a single physical swatch. This reduces the need for shipping which, in turn, cuts the carbon footprint. So too for brands when they replace physical samples with virtual samples. In some cases the amount of fabric needed can be reduced by 90%.
It is important to remember that digital fabrics are looking to complement traditional textile sampling rather than replace it. There will always be a need for 1-2 physical samples to realise a design but adopting virtual sampling for the bulk of sample iterations can only act to lower the impact of sampling on the environment.
Q2. What is a common misconception of digital fabrics and can you debunk those barriers?
One of the key aspects that has impeded adoption of digital fabrics is the misconception that the physical properties of a real fabric can’t be accurately captured and represented digitally. The main physical properties needed for realistic fabric simulation are bending, shear and tensile strength in relation to the fabric weight. In fact these required fabric properties can be measured with textile testing instruments available on the market. The biggest hurdle facing this aspect of digital fabrics is agreeing on a standard set of measurements that can be imported into 3D design software. The 3D Retail Coalition (3DRC) has brought together the stakeholders to address this problem and work towards a standard operating procedure.
Couture Cad enables designers to view their designs in a 3D environment on an avatar customised to their brands measurements. Designs can be viewed in accurate fabric/colour/prints/drape. Changes can be made quickly and easily. Once design is approved, pattern files are sent for sampling.
Q1. Can you explain the process of developing avatars and how they can effectively communicate a garment's story before entering the sampling phase?
The first step is customising the avatar in Clo3D. Most brands use a women’s base size 8 but we also use mens, children’s and plus size. We can also import avatars into CLO of human or fictional proportions or completely customise based on the brands needs. Patterns are either imported or created in CLO, they are then simulated on the avatar and are viewable at every angle, pose or motion cycle. Any adjustments to fit or design are made on the avatar then we email them to the designer to check/approve.
Digital fabrics are available in CLO and many fabric suppliers are now offering digital fabrics so simulation is as accurate as reality. You can change the grainline to bias, see accurate drape, use pressure tools to create a puffer jacket or quilted panels and puckering to make topstitching appear more realistic. There are also many trims available including buttons, buckles and zips that can be viewed on your garment. A designer can now present exactly what they envisage across an entire collection, no longer “close enough” due to poor communication.
Q2. What are the sustainable/cost saving benefits brands can see from adopting 3D processes into the development process?
A jacket has around 35 pattern pieces. When developing on an avatar we only need to create 5-7 pieces. We also don’t need all the linings and fusings until the design is approved for sampling. If need be, a designer can view the entire collection without cutting into a single piece of fabric. Normally sampling requires up to 3 samples before production taking up to 3 weeks each cycle. 3D development can reduce this to as little as 1 sample in a matter of hours/days depending on design. No fit model, just the designer and pattern maker. Imagine the cost to brands with 100 designs per season x 4 seasons per year. 3D development will not only save time but hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. There is also minimal waste so the environment wins.
Before we get carried away with the limitless capabilities of 3D development I must expose a few negatives.
To use CLO3D or any other similar software effectively, you have to be a skilled pattern-maker with graphics skills. We don’t have enough skilled people at pattern-maker level or the time to train existing workers who are under tight deadlines to adopt the graphics skills they will need in this 3D environment. There are also major costs involved when setting up the software and computers needed.
The pressure point in the 3D development process is on the pattern-maker. They will have to transition from a 2D to 3D mindset which some will struggle with. In conclusion, as much as we all want the fashion industry to adopt 3D, it will take years and a lot of investment and education to make the shift. It was the same when the fashion industry went from paper/cardboard patterns to digital. That took roughly 10 years!
Stay Tuned for next weeks profile on Neuno.
To find out more about the AFC FashTech Lab head to the program page on the AFC website.