Many industries have experienced a breakthrough in their economic growth after embracing complete digitalization. The fashion and apparel industry is too on its journey through a digital transformation. Technologies like 3D prototyping, digital fashion design programs, digital avatars, and virtual showrooms are transfiguring the new-age digital insurgency. With more and more brands initiating digital processes, manufacturers and retailers are also getting on board with technological mediums to refine their fashion supply chain processes.
Earlier garments were developed from pen-and-paper sketches which were constructed into physical samples using hand-cut paper patterns. The scenario has changed now with customizable fashion design software that allows designers to utilize their creative freedom and generate dynamic design lines. Brands and retailers are turning to more life-like 3D sample creations to develop and manufacture apparel more efficiently. Thus, brands like Nike, Uniqlo, Adidas, and Under Armour have opted for higher levels of digitalization to optimize their production as well as supply chain processes.
Sustainability Is Pushing Brands Towards Digitalization
The fashion industry is going through a digital makeover, and achieving sustainability plays a pivotal role in it. Brands are incorporating 3D CAD systems or using fashion design software to enable zero-waste designing for their collections. This is because consumer’s buying decisions are not dependent on factors like product cost, or quality anymore. They look for more sustainable products that offer longevity. Eco-friendly alternatives that are helping retailers manufacture without waste production are deeming into the limelight. This is why many home-grown brands are rapidly growing and accepted by consumers on a large scale due to their unconventional practices and sustainable approach.
‘Do you know 50% of the fast fashion brands and retailers have experienced a decrease in their customer purchases due to unsustainable production? It is because nearly 88% of the consumers want brands to become more environment-friendly and produce sustainably. Presently, the fashion and apparel industry is responsible for 10% of the globally emitted carbon pollution.’
Digital innovations are not only helping brands elevate their traditional production and supply chain, but also decreasing their carbon footprint. With digital avatars emerging, designers do not need resource-intensive procedures to develop designs for different body types. They eliminate the need to create multiple physical samples by realistic 3D visualization of their designs on a human body. By using fashion design software, they can future-proof their designs with efficient grading, pattern making, and sampling methods.
‘The renowned denim brand-Levi’s recently launched a denim collection that uses 96% less water as a green alternative to conventional denim production that otherwise requires gallons of water.’
(Product Marketing Manager)
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Enabling Zero-Waste Design & Production
A typical garment goes through multiple processes before mass production. At least 40 to 50 sketches are hand-drawn for single design approval. Once the designers get past this stage, they now have to develop physical samples for their designs in multiple sizes, colors, and fabric. This sampling process alone can take up to weeks to finalize. Besides, if the samples do not turn out as desirable, designers need to make multiple iterations and go through the whole sampling process again.
The manual process usually involves the risk of human error due to which brands end up spending a fortune on product sampling, all while producing a large amount of fabric waste. Here are a few factors that impact product sampling costs-
- Sourcing of raw material, fabric, and trims
- Sample manufacturing costs
- Shipping costs of fabric to manufacturing units
- Wrongful sampling, and resampling costs
However, fashion design software has evolved the whole design process. Designers can create 3D renders of their design in a hassle-free manner and analyze their finished products virtually. They can skip creating multiple physical samples and experience a better visualization of their products. Be it understanding the flow of fabric, size grading, or switching between multiple embellishments. They can develop different samples in varying sizes and fabrics without spending any money on resources. Multiple iterations can be done easily in minutes without any fabric waste. Designers can do everything efficiently with a click of a button and experience 4 times better productivity.
Future-Proofing With Digital Transformation
While 2D flat layouts restricted the creative freedom and customization of designs. 3D fashion design software has completely opened up a new plethora of possibilities in design and product development. Brands and retailers have realized that digitalization is inevitable for them to sustain themselves in the market. Other than sustainability, digitalization also brings along other intangible benefits such as increased productivity, reduction in sampling and design costs, improved supply chain processes, and optimized design operations. Thus, 3D design tools should not be looked upon as human replacements, but positively as a measure to future-proof industrial operations.