Digitization is more important than ever. Not only is the fashion industry looking for innovative ways to make their processes more efficient, but with the current situation of a global pandemic that is disrupting supply chains, we all see that a digital “plan B” is not optional anymore. Global partnerships between fashion brands and their suppliers must become more digital.
In this article Vizoo, a leading provider for material digitization technology, looks into the specifics of the digital fabric creation process.
Currently, in most cases, fabric swatches are digitized at a brand’s headquarters. These brands are digitizing physical fabric swatches for 3D designs, prototyping and eCommerce.
Therefore, when Design teams request a fabric to be digitized, the physical swatch gets ordered from the fabric mill and is shipped to the brand. The typical time from design request to an approved digitized material with this process can take up to 4 weeks. Because of this inefficient and time consuming process, there has been an increased push to move the digitization of fabrics from brands to the suppliers, reducing this process to just a few days.
Unfortunately, while there is a large time saving in having suppliers digitize materials, attempting to implement this process can trigger a stalemate. Some suppliers will refrain from providing digital materials if the brand is expecting them “for free”, in addition to all physical samples. However, a brand cannot fully embrace 3D and use the materials in their virtual designs if they are missing the digital assets.
The situation almost feels like a dating show where both parties are afraid of taking the first step. Is there no reason for the supplier to go digital?
Here’s the main point: Material digitization for fabric mills is not only about serving the brand’s digital product creation use-case, but also customer service and speed. There are many opportunities leveraging digitization for the fabrics mill’s own process.
Suppliers should not worry about a brand’s 3D maturity
The benefits 3D provides to fabric mills, garment manufacturers and brands are very similar: Speeding up the design process, saving samples and reducing the cost of product photography. These benefits become clear in several situations.
Fabric fairs are full of physical swatches. The first selection process happens when a brand designer reviews the fabric in a booth at a fabric fair or trade show. While seeing a physical swatch in person is valuable, when the designer returns to their workplace the day after, they have nothing in hand. There is no other option than waiting until their sample swatches are shipped from the manufacturer to continue their design process days if not weeks later.
The most innovative fabric suppliers are now looking into solutions to offer a digital twin of their fabric along with their physical swatches. This provides the designer with an immense time advantage. They can start their design with the digital material sent to their email inbox. Taking it a step further, digital material platforms like swatchbook make distributing and viewing the materials even easier.
TARGETED PRODUCT PREVIEWS
When reviewing the fabric range, it is sometimes difficult to envision the fabric or print on the final product. With digital fabrics, the material supplier can instantaneously show their jersey fabric on a shirt, their print on a sofa, or their suede on a shoe. This creates a more life-like preview and helps to market and sell the materials. The client will have an easier time to envision right away how a material will look like on a relevant product during their initial selection process.
Similar to a brand’s initiative to reduce the production of physical colorway samples, a fabric supplier can reduce the color variants in their physical swatch books and offer the variance digitally or printed. Suppliers can also show new color variation on the fly.
This is providing potential clients with a unique service of previewing a fabric in their color of choice. This allow faster decision making and more relevant customer conversations.
Like any manufacturer or brand, a fabric supplier needs product photography for their online shop. Digital fabrics can easily be fed into a render pipeline to produce a consistent output. The time saved is immense due to the efficient scalability of 3D renderings in contrast to physical photo shoots.
Digital fabrics enhance fabric selection and customer conversations
There is no doubt that eventually digital materials will be used in a brand’s digital product creation process. However, this article highlights the immediate advantages for suppliers to adopt 3D technology proactively.
About the Sponsor: Vizoo is pioneering in the field of 3D material data acquisition. Our xTex technology captures physically based textures of a material surface in minutes. With the xTex software you can easily create seamless textures which can be used with all common 3D programs. Vizoo is an active contributor to the U3M format development.