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Virtual Footwear Design Tech Firm to Launch Platform for New Digital-First Normal

As the fashion world moves toward a more technologically advanced future, innovations in digitization are helping designers cut out unnecessary steps in the product development process.

Later this month, digital design and development solutions company 4D ShoeTech will launch an online collaborative workspace for designers, developers and other stakeholders, featuring next-generation technologies to streamline the process of creating a shoe, from conceptualization through execution.

4D ShoeTech’s platform enables designers to draft, prototype and showcase their work in incredibly photorealistic digital 3D, known throughout the industry as 4D. The technology eliminates the need for costly and wasteful physical samples in a time where speed to market is key.

3D CAD modeling capabilities give designers the tools to build shoes from the ground up, including virtual versions of heels, outsoles, bottoms, lasts and mold-making components. Once a designer has put the finishing touches on their creation, a 4D digital sample can be created and shared.

The platform integrates X-Rite Pantone TAC7 Technology, which allows for the precise, photorealistic capture of materials like fur, embroidery and textile textures, as well as embossed leather, metallics and other design details. Advanced computer vision and artificial intelligence enable tiling and exact pattern creation.

4D ShoeTech’s suite of tools also includes cost-saving 3D-printing capabilities, allowing designers to physically sample prototype heels, outsoles, bottoms, components, accessories and mold-making elements in rigid or flexible materials from their own offices.

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When it comes to the digital samples the platform is built on, the prototypes are “neither flat nor static as a traditional .JPEG or .PNG image reads,” the company said in a statement. “The viewer can visually ‘feel’ the full texture of the product, as it has the ability to move or spin like in a motion capture or animation, making the appearance of the product incredibly lifelike.”

Using the new web-based platform, designers, manufacturers, sales reps and buyers can experiment with changes to shoe designs simply by dragging and dropping available swatches and color ways.

The platform’s developers described remote working as “the new norm in today’s climate.” As physical trade shows and expositions have been canceled, postponed or put on indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis, virtual showrooms and events are increasingly becoming integral to wholesale channels.

“By applying 4D ShoeTech technology, a designer or sales rep will be able to easily create digital line sheets and online virtual sales showroom to exhibit their collections to global buyers with the click of a button,” the company wrote.