The physical world and the digital world, like it or not, are irreversibly intertwined in our lives. Few would disagree that current accelerating advances in new technology are bringing previously unimaginable benefits including, of course, in business – changing the way we work forever. This is very much the case in sportswear design, and the apparel industry in general, where the use of three-dimensional digital technology is revolutionising the way design and development services are delivered. Here, at Blue Associates Sportswear we have embraced 3D with a passion and it is now firmly part of our offer and culture.
The stand-out 3D design software, Clo3D, is the “magical” tool enabling us to present opportunities to our clients which deliver greatly significant savings in time and money as well as dramatically reducing their environmental footprints. It’s a win, win for business and society.
Here’s how it works…
Clo3D, whose developers have the promotional slogan “design smarter”, means we can create sportswear in a virtual 3D format by attaching the designs to a prescribed avatar. This is done by making virtual patterns from 2D designs, digitally stitching them and placing them onto the avatar. Then, as quickly as the flick of Harry Potter’s wand, the software works its magic, creating an extremely accurate and vivid virtual garment that can be viewed on-screen turning 360 degrees. Clo3D’s robust simulation engine allows the designer to create countless layers and intricate details.
Now here is where the clever stuff really begins. Fabrics (Clo3D has its own library of commonly used fabrics), textures, colours, drape and almost anything else about the design can be changed, modified and refined, at the click of a button rather than the flick of a wand. Add a zip – can do. Make the fabric shinier – no problem. Change the drape – easy, coming right up. Interactive amendments of every conceivable type can be made in real-time so the client can view them as they are done and approve as we go along until we are all happy. Even the avatars are smiling! (By the way, the avatars can also be changed in terms of gender, shape, size, race and height to suit requirements.) Some designers would contend that the faster working in the design modification process might also boost creativity and innovation.
As the final 3D garment, signed off by the client, is photorealistic and incredibly accurate to what will be the final outcome there is not the need for as many samples to be produced at the factory down the line – saving a substantial amount on the factory bill, travel, couriers and duty charges. As each sample can take between six to eight weeks to produce, the time-to-market calendar is also a fraction of what it would be without the 3D garment – saving more valuable time and time is money, to coin a phrase. Of course, less samples means less unwanted fabric in landfill sites making the whole process more sustainable.
There is also the additional opportunity for brands to use 3D garments to market and present a collection prior to them going into physical production. So, they have the option to only order what they sell or expect to sell which, again, stops waste, maintains profit margins and protects brand value. Our clients could also take up the option of creating a 3D catalogue for their brands’ latest products.
The 3D garments and associated patterns are also a boon for the factory which can utilise the patterns when they produce the first prototypes, resulting in far more accurate first samples that should represent the final fit and function better than using 2D designs. The 3D garments also give a clear vision to the factory of the requirements for the finished physical product, so they understand the fit, function and seaming/construction 360 degrees around the garment.
Three-dimensional technology specifically for the apparel industry has been around for a few years and is certainly on the horizon for sportswear design, but the Covid pandemic gave it a final push to be at the front of everyone’s agenda. As they say, often positive breakthroughs are made in times of adversity.
Clo3D software has been rapidly evolving with new versions becoming better and better at delivering a sophisticated 3D design solution. So, what next for designers using 3D technology? Well, at the moment we are creating true-to-life virtual garments from 2D designs and patterns, but one of Clo’s strengths is that it allows designers to dive into the 3D process right away without the need for 2D drawings. New designs can be quickly sketched on an avatar exploring countless variations at relatively low-cost and, again, encouraging added creativity and innovation. The software will then automatically generate pattern pieces. So, 3D is part of product development from beginning to end. It is not hard to predict that this could well become more the norm in the future.
Another tremendously exciting application for Clo3D is using it to produce animations displaying garments on moving avatars. The software enables virtual garments to be “pinned” to avatar animations and move with them, showing and testing how the garments would move during a particular activity. Avatars can walk, run, swim, do back-flips and a whole lot more. Not so much “poetry in motion” but “performance in motion”, taking realistic virtual garment presentation to a whole new level. This opens up the possibility of animated catalogues delivered via emailed links.
As regards to Clo3D being the future of sportswear design – the future is already here. Whether it is a global brand or a start-up, embracing and developing 3D is a must. At Blue Associates, we anticipate more of our clients who have yet to take onboard 3D will soon be demanding the technology – and we are ready and waiting to guide them through their “digital shift” with a first-class and cost-effective service.
Camille Rose Smith,
CLO3D Sportswear Designer/Developer,
Blue Associates Sportswear.