3D for fashion has been a revolution long in the making. While more rigid product types like jewellery, footwear, and handbags leant themselves to being prototyped, designed, and even marketed as 3D renders, soft garments set a much higher bar for technical accuracy and believability.

For a shirt or dress to look convincing enough to make a stylistic, fit, or fabric decision it has to behave completely naturally. This means simulating every material characteristic, factoring in variables that alter as the avatar wearing the virtual garment moves, and much, much more.

And, vitally, none of this can be faked if a virtual prototype is going to eventually become a set of technical specifications to be sent to a manufacturing partner. Not only does the 3D simulation itself have to look correct, but it needs to be adhere with absolute accuracy to its associated 2D pattern pieces. A change to a hemline in 2D must be instantly reflected in the 3D simulation, and vice versa.

Although some 3D vendors do cross between technical and aesthetic capabilities, this is an area of 3D that’s completely distinct from generating high-fidelity renders of garments to be used in marketing and e-commerce.

From cutting sample iterations to improving quality and fit, technical 3D is often cited as one of the quickest returns on investment in fashion technology. Does the reality stack up? Find out when we dive into technical 3D in April 2020.