“Most industries design everything in 3D, starting with a 3D CAD illustration then creating all product components in 3D to see how they can work,” said Bill Wilcox, president and founder of Clothing Tech LLC. “The garment industry is the only major industry I’ve seen where that isn’t the case.”
He should know. A serial entrepreneur, Wilcox spent four decades helping the automotive, aerospace and electronics industries become more efficient. When he set his sights on the fashion world, he realized that design and production inefficiencies weren’t just wasting precious time in an industry that thrives on speed-to-market, but that hundreds of billions of dollars were being wasted in the form of returned or discounted merchandise.
Clothing Tech solved for that problem with its patented Garment Digital Twin™, which literally embeds the tech pack into the pattern, so any design changes made in CAD on the computer are automatically updated and converted into the pattern, without requiring any additional manpower.
Speeding up the design process also solves fashion’s problem of estimating demand too early, where it’s often impossible to decide how much of a garment needs to be produced or whether consumers will even like it. “We thought, could we create a system that will help brands design a garment and validate it and get it production ready in a few days? Currently, it’s six months or sometimes more,” said Wilcox in a Fireside Chat with Sourcing Journal.
To ensure agility, the design needed to be packed with digital information that could be easily communicated among stakeholders. “Maybe you have a designer in New York, a technical designer in Miami and a pattern maker in a factory in the Far East, and all of these people are working together to get this garment working,” said Wilcox. “With the Garment Digital Twin™, decision making and iterations happen dramatically faster because it takes just a few seconds to update.”
Such iterations are key in an industry where poor design planning means unsold items are heavily discounted or end up in landfills. Labor is optimized as well, since you don’t need a pattern maker who only makes patterns, or a technical designer who only creates tech packs. With Clothing Tech’s 3D software, designers create the tech pack directly from a digital sketch, which carries that digital definition right into the garment.
“The 3D Garment Digital Twin™ is a step beyond a 3D visualization,” said Wilcox. “All of the data of the tech pack is in the digital twin—what stitch to use, what finishes to use, what to sew to what—plus all the instructions that need to be made to tell the machine how to do it. But since it’s also 3D visualizable, I can look at the at the garment, spin it around, stretch it, change the shape of it, interact with it. We make sure everything is computer readable, but we also make sure everything is human readable.”
Lastly, as any brand knows, there’s more to success than just good design. Different fabrics, finishes and design processes have different costs, and Clothing Tech’s Garment Digital Twin™ software instantly shows how suggested design changes translate into price per item.
Click the image above to view the Fireside Chat.