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Addressing Resistance to 3D Virtual Prototyping in Apparel Design and Product Development

Addressing Resistance to 3D Virtual Prototyping in Apparel Design and Product Development 

By Daniel Seo, Director of Operations - Europe, CLO Virtual Fashion 

Although many fashion and apparel companies have adopted tools, such as Adobe Creative Suite and PDM systems within their product development process, the implementation of 3D virtual prototyping tools have been met with resistance. The reasons for this resistance vary for each company, but they must be addressed as the immense number of physical samples that are produced and shipped across the globe during the product development process, necessitates new, sustainable practices based in innovative tools.


3D virtual prototyping for apparel design and product development offers the opportunity for fashion and apparel companies to streamline their current process, but moreover, provides a means of communication centered around a single, digital asset that can be used by all departments, vendors, and manufacturers.


However, even with these benefits, there are common points of resistance that exist in the fashion and apparel industry that hinder the adoption of 3D virtual prototyping:


3D is a Gimmick


While 3D modeling is standard practice within creative departments in automotive, aerospace, architecture, and industrial design, 3D modeling is stereotyped as a tool specifically for computer-generated imagery. It is frequently associated with video games and animated films, inciting negative reactions when proposed as a tool for the fashion industry.


Yet, if we examine the evolution of 3D modeling, specifically 3D cloth simulation, garments in recent video games and animated films are intricate, drape dynamically, and animated characters wear multiple outfits made of different materials throughout an entire film. Even in films with human actors where 3D garments are used, it is difficult to tell when the garment is real or digital. 3D cloth simulation has come a long way over the past decade, and when paired with the right hardware, accurate virtual representations of designs can be achieved within a matter of minutes.


3D is not a gimmick. Even though 3D cloth simulation is used by other industries, when this technology incorporates features that can translate a virtual prototype into physical reality, designs can be clearly communicated, the number of physical samples per style can be greatly reduced, and more time can be spent on designing better, more creative products for your consumers.


Fear of Changing the Current Apparel Design and Product Development Process


Considering 3D virtual prototyping often elicits negative feelings from those involved in product development and design. It is a technology that challenges their current day-to-day process, and the change that comes with adopting this type of innovative technology can be