The pandemic has revealed that a lot of tools and technologies once seen as optional can be mandatory for survival.
As a result, CLO Virtual Fashion has seen an uptick in companies interested in investing in 3D technology. In a conversation with Sourcing Journal president Edward Hertzman, Ryan Teng, vice president of business development for the Americas, said the pandemic really separated the haves from the have nots.
“When March hit, we had a lot of companies that had been onboarded already, and for them the transition was pretty seamless. They said ‘we’re getting virtual samples anyway. This doesn’t really change our process,’” he said, adding for those that were still reliant on physical samples, the experience was much different. And it’s not just brands and retailers. “A lot of the vendors now that don’t have those things are the ones getting the orders canceled.”
Not only is working with 3D samples the difference between protecting operations and grinding to a halt, it’s also providing efficiency for brands and retailers that are increasingly looking to do more with less. For instance, the patternmaking process is a critical function that many companies have offloaded on their vendor partners. Too often, the result is miscommunication, which is why Teng is seeing more and more brands looking for ways to bring it back in house.
“The difficulty in looking at a drawing or sketch and making that into a physical garment is why patternmaking is actually such a beautiful, magical skill. And without a fully trained patternmaker, a lot of what you’re doing is a lot of guesswork until the physical sample is created then you realize it’s incorrect,” he said, adding the challenge is, today’s designers aren’t skilled in this area.
That’s where technology can close that gap.
“The industry at large has perpetuated a concept of relying on vendors for pattern creation and designers domestically focusing on sketching, with CLO you get ahead of all of this and have designers work on the 3D blocks that have actual patterns associated with it, all without having to create a physical sample,” he said.
And fewer physical samples means fashion firms can take another step toward achieving their sustainability goals.
The breadth of the benefits that come with 3D technology, in general, and the holistic nature of the CLO software, in particular, is a big differentiator. The company removes the need for every department to use different technology, and makes communicating and sharing information much easier, which is appealing for everyone in the organization.
“From the top, it’s ‘We can be saving on e-commerce. We can be solving virtual sampling for photoshoots and marketing.’ All those things to them are very important. For the designer, it’s ‘I could be creating so quickly. I could be iterating and not having to wait overnight for a physical sample to come. I can do things within a couple of minutes or hours,’” Teng said. “That’s what gets buy-in from leadership.”