“Most industries design everything in 3D, starting with a 3D CAD illustration and then creating all the product components in 3D to see how they can work,” said Bill Wilcox, President and Founder of Clothing Tech LLC. “The apparel industry is the only major industry I’ve seen where this isn’t the case.”
He should know. A serial entrepreneur, Wilcox has spent four decades helping the automotive, aerospace and electronics industries become more efficient. When he set his sights on the world of fashion, he realized that design and production inefficiencies weren’t just wasting valuable time in an industry that thrives on speed to market. , but that hundreds of billions of dollars were wasted in the form of returned or discounted merchandise.
Clothing Tech has solved this problem with its patented Garment Digital Twin™, which literally embeds the technical pack into the pattern, so any design changes made in CAD on the computer are automatically updated and converted into a pattern, without requiring 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 to produce or even whether consumers will like it. “We thought, could we create a system that would help brands design a garment, validate it and have it ready for production in a matter of days? Currently it’s six months or sometimes more,” Wilcox said in a fireside chat with Sourcing Journal.
To ensure agility, the design had to be filled with digital information that could be easily communicated to stakeholders. “You might 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 those people work together to make this garment work,” Wilcox said. “With the Garment Digital Twin™, decision-making and iterations happen much faster because the update only takes a few seconds.”
Such iterations are essential in an industry where poor design planning means unsold items are heavily discounted or end up in landfills. The work is also optimized, since you don’t need a pattern maker who only makes patterns, or a technical designer who only creates technical packs. With Clothing Tech’s 3D software, designers create the technical package directly from a digital sketch, which transmits this digital definition directly into the garment.
“The 3D Garment Digital Twin™ is a step beyond 3D visualization,” said Wilcox. “All the technical pack data is in the digital twin – what stitch to use, what finishes to use, what to sew over what – along with all the instructions that need to be done to tell the machine how to do it. But since it’s also viewable in 3D, I can look at the item of clothing, rotate it, stretch it, change its shape, interact with it. We make sure everything is machine readable, but we also make sure everything is human readable.
Finally, as any brand knows, success isn’t just about 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 to price per item.
Click on the image above to see the Fireside Chat.