Time is one of our most important assets, especially today, in an ever-changing world under the constant stress of digitization. Innovative start-ups and technology giants are disrupting the Fashion industry and the way we used to work. Daniel Grieder, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Europe, spoke at the web summit 2019 about the transformation of PVH to a fashion tech company.
Digitization and 3D are consistently pushing the boundaries of what is possible and decreasing the time span of the fashion development cycle. By utilizing 3D technologies to the fullest, creating a “Product in a Day” is no longer wishful thinking.
However, there are many reasons why 3D implementations fail or do not have the expected ROI. We will elaborate on one part that is most-often missing in the 3D project equation: The flow of assets.
Keep Your Assets Flowing
Our daily business shows us that companies are evaluating different 3D tools. However, they rarely have their project team also working on the preparation and handover of assets. Thus eventually, even after successful trials and pilots, many companies see their progress come to a grinding halt as the infrastructure and processes are not there to scale.
From 3D designers to online configurators, all need the components prepared and ready-to-use to work efficiently in 3D. Involving the material library team, sourcing contacts or suppliers at an early stage will mitigate the risk involved in scaling these new, complex processes.
In preparation for these conversations, there are few questions to ask in the early project phase:
- What level of quality do I need for my digital materials for each step in the process?
- Are my materials compatible with all the tools I am using throughout the process?
- How do I send my materials to others?
- Who should be owning the digitization task during the evaluation phase and more importantly when 3D becomes my inline process?
Digital Product Creation
When it comes to the implementation of 3D, most companies start at the design stage. There are many 3D apparel applications that can digitally transform this process, so it seems the most intuitive area to start.
Speed and creative flow are the top priorities in the design stage. For some, a simple mobile phone photo of a material will suffice to sketch the design intent. However, in order to base major decisions on the design, a truer to life material is needed than a simple image. A professional material scanner can deliver this kind of material quality.
A design can be realized within hours, if a designer has access to color palettes, base pattern libraries, fabrics and trims. A central, highly available asset database is the key for a positive user experience in design. The assets in this database should be easily accessed, compatible with the design tool, and be kept up to date with seasonal fabrics, colors and trims.
When a design is handed over to development or sourcing, communication becomes key. If the assets are stored under the correct ID with the corresponding visuals, the development process will benefit. A tech pack, when filled with photorealistic 3D visuals of the product, becomes much more accurate and multiple sample rounds can be eliminated more easily. In fact, many clients report that they are able to drastically reduce sample rounds, saving cost and time.
Anne Lupas, Studio Lupas GbR: “Imagine that you’d like to react to a fashion trend on the market spontaneously. 3D development with digitized materials allows you to bring your own creations to market flexibly and at short term in high quality.”
The introduction of 3D can start in any process stage. Back in 2008, the German sportswear brand adidas initiated a disrupting approach, by deciding to digitize the sell-in process first. Consequently, 3D was created after the final product prototype with the objective to reduce salesmen samples. As a result, 1 million apparel, footwear and bag samples were saved. (Source: LINK)
As buyers start to rely on virtual sell-in products, these digital products must reflect the real prototype. At this stage, low quality assets will make the endeavor challenging and therefore visuals of fabrics, trims, colors and pattern need to be of high quality.
So how much can 3D shorten the time from concept to shelf? With the proper flow of assets and a refined design process, it is possible to create a digital product from scratch including photorealistic e-commerce ready images in a matter of hours instead of days or weeks. This has been proven many times by PVH STITCH in their “product in a day” workshops.
Imagine the designer reacting quickly to a new trend by loading an already approved pattern and available fabric colors and trims. Creating a high end, photorealistic prototype which ends up instantaneously in the eCom shop? True to life assets at this stage open up this possibility.
The secret to the best ROI with 3D is reusing 3D assets throughout the process. It is less important to work with the highest quality of assets, but to meet the quality expectations of every process step.
Therefore, it is ok to jump start the 3D design process with a simple mobile phone image, just keep in mind that the asset quality needs to evolve together with the product maturity. More sophisticated implementations are even working with automatic replacement of low-resolution draft materials with high resolution final materials.
In conclusion, the basis for a clean and lean 3D process are the proper assets, the rights tools and a good infrastructure to connect it all. While it’s recommended to start small, once you start full implementation of 3D workflows in your company, it will quickly come to a dead-end without this solid basis.