Clothing brands and retailers are increasingly beginning to recognise that new 3D technologies not only have the potential to increase speed to market but can also help foster the move to greener garment production.
Beth Wright, apparel correspondent at GlobalData, says fashion companies from start-ups to industry veterans are exploring how to implement such technologies, wising up to ways the solutions can benefit their businesses, not least by helping respond to the ever-increasing demands of consumers for the sector to operate in a more sustainable manner.
“Leveraging 3D technologies in design and prototyping tools such as virtual-fit avatars allows brands to streamline production, bypassing the often laborious process of producing physical samples and making the consequential alterations,” she says.
“What’s more, reducing the number of physical samples that have to be made not only prevents waste but also limits the time-consuming and high carbon footprint process of freighting the prototypes between designers and manufacturers – all steps that help fashion firms operate more sustainably.”
Among the latest example is apparel giant PVH Corp’s Tommy Hilfiger brand, which is rolling out 3D design technologies across its global apparel design teams at its Amsterdam headquarters. The move is part of its plans to achieve 100-per-cent 3D apparel design by its spring 2022 collections, building on its target to digitise its end-to-end value chain.
The brand plans to launch a capsule collection in autumn of next year, which will be designed, developed and sold digitally, including products modelled on virtual avatars. In addition, all of its men dress shirts for the season will be 100-per-cent 3D designed and require no sample production.
At the other end of the scale, Danish startup Son of a Tailor recently secured more than US$100,000 in funding via a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture its Zero Waste pullover, which uses 3D knitting technology to help prevent overproduction and eliminate textile waste in the form of off-cuts.
Garments are made to order and knitted in one piece with the company claiming while conventional clothing production wastes up to 21 per cent of fabric in the cutting process, its own method reduces this waste to less than 1 per cent.
Wright adds: “More and more fashion firms are recognising that 3D technologies offer benefits beyond speed and flexibility. While managing the move to adopting and implementing these new technologies can often be daunting – not to mention costly – it seems fashion firms from each end of the spectrum are beginning to see the value in opting against more traditional production methods such as physical sample production.”