After working in the apparel industry for nearly four decades, Paul Lee saw a monumental gap that could only be filled by a greater push for digitalization—brands had limited knowledge of their customers’ body shapes and overall size distribution.
In response to these concerns, Lee, Rick Yu and Jac Hsieh made it a top priority to develop a full-body scanner, building 3D fashion technology firm TG3D Studio around the launch in 2015. But Lee and co. understood that both catering to consumer needs and fighting apparel’s reoccurring challenges such as waste, returns and time to market required more than body scanning tech.
“We think that being able to come up with the digital assets of the products, even before they were produced, as a means to test the market, get enough feedback and understand the forecasting better is definitely going to turn the workflow of the industry upside down, and create a more data- and demand-driven business model,” said Yu, chief marketing officer and co-founder at the fashion tech firm.
TG3D Studio wants to be a do-it-all partner that offers 3D solutions for all parties in the fashion ecosystem, ranging from independent fashion professionals to large enterprises.
Yu told Sourcing Journal that many competitors typically only specialize in one area in the 3D chain, pushing TG3D to evolve into a one-stop shop for brands’ 3D needs.
“Our customers don’t go through the hassle of trying to put each piece together,” said Yu.
The infrared, self-service Scanatic 360 Body Scanner scans a consumer in three seconds and obtains “millions” of data points on the body surface, the company says. Its accompanying Scanatic Body Service processes the 3D data into sets of body measurements, labeling each customer with an avatar and enabling retailers to customize the data and review or adjust measurement landmarks.
But TG3D has brought its tech to manufacturers and designers as well, offering the Scanatic Nuno Fabric Scanner to help mills create digital fabric swatches, while the Scanatic Nuno3D Service renders the swatch’s 3D texture.
A user can import the swatch into the Scanatic DC Suite, which is built to provide realistic 3D visualization and garment drape simulation for materials such as cotton, silk, wool and more, so that designers can bring 3D apparel to life.
The Scanatic StyleBook Service showcases the mockup 3D garments for design proposals and marketing, so that other teams can take actions like adjusting pattern lines or swapping different fabrics or trims. Additionally, the studio offers a Cloudzet Store mobile app and web plug-in service directly so that brands and even customers can view the 3D collections on an iPad or on their websites.
“We also help customers that need to get over that learning curve by offering consulting services,” said Yu. “We have in-house 3D technical designers. They can hand us all the existing output, including the sketches, the tech-pack drawings, the materials—we’ll have them digitalized, so you can start creating SKUs without having to create everything from scratch.”
While TG3D Studio is confident it fills a major need in clustering all of these technologies, the company prefers to operate as an open platform instead of a closed system so users can leverage digital assets in other technologies. For example, digital swatches from the Scanatic Nuno Fabric Scanner are compatible with other 3D fashion design software.
H&M, Facha bring TG3D solutions into stores
In 2020, TG3D Studio forged its biggest partnership yet, supplying the 360 Body Scanner for H&M’s Weekday brand in a Stockholm, Sweden store. After a three-second scan, a shopper uses a touchscreen to customize details, including waist, fit, wash and stitch color. This data enables Weekday to offer custom-fit jeans manufactured by made-to-order digital apparel company Unspun. Unspun develops the algorithms within the scanner to create the custom fit, and offers TG3D’s body scanner technology in its San Francisco and New York locations.
TG3D also has supplied the 360 Body Scanner to Facha Customized Suit, a tailored men’s wear seller with two stores in Taiwan. Pony Fang, the owner of Facha Customized Suit, actually credits the scanner with enabling him to open the second store in Taichung, in that he doesn’t have to travel regularly to take measurements himself.
While Fang previously measured a client to gather 15 measurements, he said that the scanner could access as many as 250 measurements for patternmaking. With the scanner, Facha cut its refitting rate (customers who need post-manufacturing suit adjustments) from over 30 percent to less than 5 percent, according to Fang.
New avatars, Shopify integration lead newest innovations
Over the past few months, the Studio has added more functionalities to its offering, complementing its Scanatic DC Suite with the launch of two “supermodel” avatars called Thomas and Gisele. The 3D avatars include new “air squat,” “long jump,” “modeling” and “runway” animations that are designed so users can simulate a garment from different angles in motion, and view how the garment drapes under different postures. Within DC Suite, users can find a detailed measurement list of the avatars’ bodies.
In April, TG3D Studio unveiled a significant partnership with Shopify that will give the company access to even more potential partner brands. Users can now integrate 3D designs and collections within the StyleBook Service into their own Online Shopify Shop. Sellers on Shopify may integrate up to three customization options such as pocket, fabric or sleeves and each option can contain designs with up to 100 styling combinations.
Messaging has changed, but outside investment has stayed the same
Prior to the pandemic, much of TG3D’s messaging focused on saving on returns as more physical sellers moved to e-commerce, according to Yu.
But as the crisis starts to subside in some countries, Yu says TG3D’s messaging must focus on efficiency, especially as the company continues to add new features and the industry adjusts to remote work.
“Our brand inquiries tripled after the pandemic hit,” Yu said. “I would say most of the brands are focusing on how to create that virtual sample of the design as realistic as possible so that they don’t have to have the same people in one place that look at the piece of garment together. That is the primary need and focus of what they’re looking for in digitalization.”
TG3D Studio hasn’t received outside funding aside from its initial investor, Taiwan Startup Stadium, which bootstrapped the company. Yu said most pre-pandemic investors were more interested in technology focused on e-commerce and AI. On the other hand, the corporate venture capitalists that want to create a vertically integrated portfolio of businesses and hold interest in fashion technology players today are few and far between. They usually only invest in companies directly aligned with their own existing portfolio, he said, and are very selective in terms of which fashion tech company they want to back.
“If they pick one within the fashion tech domain, they wouldn’t invest in a second one,” Yu said.
More customer-facing platforms are in TG3D’s future
Going forward, Yu said in a recent Sourcing Journal Hong Kong Sourcing Summit panel that TG3D is delving further into the consumer-facing side of retail, currently integrating the digital assets generated across all its solutions to further improve brand partners’ e-commerce experiences.
“The consumers ultimately will need a better way to make more informed decisions finding the right product, the right sizes and that is exactly what our solution is capable of offering,” Yu said in the panel.
Within the coming year, the studio is developing a virtual try-on capability for retailers that want to access its set of digital assets, as well as newer innovations such as a foot scanner and a mobile body scanning app.