By Sourcing Journal
For true design efficiency, it pays to have everything happening in the same dimension. On most digital fashion platforms, designers work between 3D and 2D—they have their 3D CAD design open in one computer window, and their 2D pattern program open in another—and they’re always switching back and forth.
“But they’re not really designing in 3D, they’re just visualizing in 3D,” said William Wilcox, founder of Clothing Tech. “With our system, any design changes made in 3D CAD are automatically updated to the 2D pattern, so there’s no back and forth, no human error and no time wasted.”
The result is a “smarter” digital twin, where all specifications and adjustments are cloud-based for easy editing and sharing.”
The know-how behind Clothing Tech’s patent-pending Garment Digital Twin™ software came from outside the fashion industry, offering a fresh vantage point. Sweden’s Hexagon, which has 25,000 employees globally, applies its digital surveying, scanning and design capabilities to the oil, gas, aerospace and automotive industries. “You design a car in 3D. You don’t design a car in 2D and then visualize it in 3D, like the fashion industry does,” said Wilcox, who challenged Hexagon’s developers to analyze the fashion industry’s biggest problems, then work to ease them.
They quickly realized that design issues were the root cause of fashion’s two biggest pain points. One, development times are too long—stretching to a year—and leading to waste, unsold merchandise and discounts due to poor forecasting. Two, once apparel sales are made, return rates continue to plague retailers. Some statistics show e-commerce return rates at 45 percent to 50 percent, with faulty fit often to blame.
The answer was creating faster, smarter, more precise designs utilizing integrated technology from the outset.
“We imported the tech pack into the program,” said Wilcox, noting that after the designer creates a garment illustration, the technical designer creates a GDT using Clothing Tech’s software rather than creating a tech pack.
“With the Garment Digital Twin™ system, all changes made into the CAD program are automatically updated into the pattern, which can then be easily edited and shared in 3D,” he said. “And since designers and technical designers aren’t necessarily in the same location, or even time zone, what could take others days or even weeks in back and forth, takes us just minutes.”
He added that while traditional 3D virtual samples do speed up the design process by replacing physical back and forth, they’re still just visualizations, not “smart” digital twins.
Beyond saving time and money, Clothing Tech also adds design agility by converting existing patterns and tech packs into 3D GDT’s that can then be edited in 3D to instantly make new styles. Garments are easily updated by editing parameters such as waist, bust, length, etc. or changing finishes. “Think of the constant feedback designers get: ‘Let’s change to a collar from a crew neck. Let’s see it as a hoodie. Let’s change the fabric print or color, or let’s add a center front seam.’ The flexibility is highly beneficial,” Wilcox said.
More Inclusive Design
Another application for smarter digital design is for more inclusivity. Many brands want to offer more sizing for more body types and even adaptive needs, but are often stymied by the technical specifications. Not all larger sizes increase incrementally at the same rate, or in the same spots, but the Garment Digital Twin™ system is more nuanced and responsive.
“Clothing Tech is the only 3D solution that offers parametric grading, which is a new way of automatically grading garments in 3D based on differences in the body measurements between two avatars, and not just standard blocks,” Wilcox said. There is no need to create or adjust grade rules to get a perfect fit. The company’s patent-pending approach examines the differences between the avatars with hundreds of measurements and adjust the pattern automatically.
For companies that are still utilizing traditional grade rules, Clothing Tech’s approach seamlessly integrates with their methods. “Our system is designed to ‘play nice with others,’” Wilcox said. “We want our partner companies to truly be more efficient. There are many companies out there with solutions that support a 3D workflow that we are happy to partner with. We don’t need to invent everything.”
Looking to the future, Clothing Tech has a lot in the pipeline for even more precision fits to lower garment return rates and boost consumer satisfaction. “Body scanning and virtual fitting rooms are definitely part of our roadmap and will be available in 2023,” said Wilcox, adding body scans could be done via a phone app. “Every garment would have the full description of the product in the digital twin. Shoppers could virtually try it on for size, or the data would instantly assess if it would be a good fit.
“It’s combining the human digital twin (avatar) with the garment digital twin,” Wilcox said.
For more information on Clothing Tech and its Garment Digital Twin™ system, click here.