Fashion Firms are Revolutionizing Their Design Routines with Advanced 3D Technology in the race to get trends to shoppers. Before we had computer aided design (CAD) software, designers sketched ideas on paper, a design was approved, and the sketches went to a factory that created prototypes. Designers and product developers tweaked the design, sending prototypes back and forth. Once a design was finally approved, it went to a factory to be copied for mass production. The process could take at least a year.

modern clothing designWhile CAD resulted in the automation of the production process, designers are now sketching garments and accessories on high-resolution tablets with software that can e-mail 3D renderings with specifications directly to factories. This new 3D technology enables the production of a digital sample that is similar in appearance to what a physical sample would look like—fabric and texture characteristics, buttons, and trims that allow decision makers to see how a garment will look and function, without the need for a physical sample. Prototypes become passé.

The ability to finalize fashion designs within hours instead of weeks, review collections within weeks instead of months, and change colors and graphics at the push of a button is revolutionizing the way garments are being produced, easily reducing waste in time and materials along the way. Considering that the fashion industry currently spends approximately $7 billion per year on samples alone, the savings will be phenomenal—also reducing ecological damages along the way.

The digital transformation will allow shoppers to see the proposed products online and examine every detail just as they previously did from photos of an actual product. While they will have to wait for the item a few months, they will get it far faster—within six months or less. Retailers will do less guessing, so they’re not stuck with racks of unsold clothes that need to be discounted. The digital transformation isn’t just about speed and shortening the time from concept to store, it’s also about creating better products for people—a needed plus for the fashion industry in a global market.