Just Style investigates how lead times for apparel design, creation and sampling can be reduced from days to hours using 3D tools.
By Fi Forrest
3D rendering software has transformed how the global apparel industry communicates, designs, creates prototypes and ultimately makes garments. By adopting digital-only creation, the industry has adapted to the ‘new normal’ with end-to-end digitalised product development, communication and management. For those working in the sector, the use of 3D rendering has revolutionised the way garments are designed. And the technology arrived when it was needed most — during the pandemic.
“The accelerated progress we have made as an industry would have been unimaginable pre-pandemic. We have learned a lot in a very short space of time,” explains Janice Wang, CEO of apparel technology company Alvanon Inc.
She adds: “Digital fashion is currently a US$40bn market and growing. As the wearer base and enabling technology expands, it’s very important for future designers to know about the skillset they need to develop.”
Replace physical prototyping with 3D rendering
Alvanon aims to help apparel brands and retailers with their fit and sizing strategies. It also offers solutions that include data gathering and analytics, dress forms, product development and supply chain optimisation. Once created, apparel prototyping can be drastically reduced using 3D avatar fit models.
“Alvanon was founded in 2001 by my father, Dr Kenneth Wang,” Alvanon’s chief operating officer Jason Wang told Just Style. “He was a visionary, always looking for better ways of doing things. In the 1990s, he built the world’s first body scanner, using cameras that went around the body on a track. When the internet appeared, he instantly recognised its potential for selling clothes and transforming the fashion industry.”
Wang explains the company was founded with a vision that the apparel industry would be developing, marketing and selling garments digitally at some point. He says: “It’s taken much longer than we anticipated for the industry to digitise. Around four years ago we saw 3D software was being adopted by our clients and we launched the Alvanon Body Platform in January 2019.”
Alvanon Virtual Fit Model
The industry had already started its journey towards digitalisation, however Wang points out it was the pandemic that was the catalyst for change. Recent advances in software design and 3D rendering – powered by technology developed for the gaming industry – have progressed 3D garment design to new levels of sophistication and realism. With travel curtailed, close working banned and logistics badly affected, the fashion industry had to accelerate its journey into the virtual realm.
“Pre-pandemic we had been working with several forward-thinking companies,” Wang explains. He adds: ”Now we are helping nearly all of the companies stuck in the old physical world of producing clothes to transform themselves to digital ways of working — allowing us to move toward [and] realise our mission of providing our retail and brand clients with the ability to make clothes that fit any (size) body.
Wang also highlights that digitisation provides the opportunity for automation or partial automation for the majority of tasks within the product development cycle. He says: “This, in turn, allows companies to become far more efficient and effective so they cannot only cut their lead times down to weeks from months, but also have a much more sustainable development process.”
Alvanon’s approach aims to support creativity but also deliver end products in a digital and sustainable way. The Alvanon Body Platform for example, is designed to provide virtual bodies (AlvaForms) that are compatible with the 3D systems its clients are using. As a result, the company’s clients can develop authentic digital garments, where they are fitting to the exact same body digitally and physically.
Wang explains: “Through this process, authentic digital garments are created. A library of these assets becomes one of the key foundation pieces for the digital journey, allowing companies to realise their true potential in terms of digitisation.” READ MORE
This 3D tech feature can be read in full on Just Style’s website here: