Denim is a true classic. A garment that has stood the test of time. But, this historical garment has been a little slower to hop on some of the modern technologies that have more recently been available for the fashion industry. With 3D design, digital sampling, virtual wholesaling, customization, and on-demand production, we now have the ability to create a product without needing a physical version of it! We're even at a point where we can buy clothes that haven't been made yet. But, the physical process of designing, sampling, and shipping materials accounts for roughly 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Quantis. So looking at one of the positives that have come out of these past few months is the little push we needed to start adapting and staying ahead of the game.
What do you think about 3D design? Digital design is a skill that is in high demand at the moment, but many designers are hesitant to delve into learning this new skill. CLO Virtual Fashion is one company that is pushing the boundaries with digital design, giving you an end-to-end solution through virtual simulations. I asked Ryan Teng, Vice President of CLO, why it's important for the next generation to embrace digital solutions. Here's what he had to say.
"At CLO, our ethos has always been to empower users with our various products and platforms to encourage and improve creativity, efficiencies, and sustainability, all simultaneously. CLO is already being taught across the world at academic institutions, being used widely at small and large companies, and we're continuing to push users to have fun while creating. A 3D digital asset doesn't just have to be a replacement for a sketch or a substitute for a tech pack or a beautiful render or an animated runway show - it can be all of them at once - which is the beauty of data paired with imagery. 3D is already happening in this generation - the next generation will just advance it beyond our imagination, but we'll be ready to listen to them so we can develop it for them when the time comes." - Ryan Teng for Simply Suzette.
I am no designer, but I have been asking my friends and experts what their opinion on using 3D design is. From what I gather, it is extremely divided. However, the most common benefit amongst designers was that the options are endless for design. Not needing to create physical samples allows you to freely create an infinite number of designs. Typically, there would be many fabrics samples received to narrow it down to the one, then the design samples would begin.
But, a small package of samples produces a lot of C02 emissions. Ecotextile states that "a 1kg parcel sent from Hong Kong to London would generate 4.8 kgs of CO2 based on CO2 calculators. As might be expected, larger parcels have an even greater environmental impact." It might not sound like a lot, but every time a new detail is added to a design, that means another sample.
As you can imagine, sending and receiving fabrics and samples also creates a lot of waste. So, I really like the idea of CLO's digital solutions including 3D design, sampling, as well as digital fabric libraries like Material Exchange who has recently partnered with Kingpins Show to create a digital denim sourcing platform. A couple of mills have also created their own digital libraries of their fabrics to show during our stay at home period, like Soorty and House of Gold.
Jeanologia has also released eDesigner, which streamlines and simplifies production. It can go from design to sample and to approval within an hour, because what you see on the screen is what you get on the jeans! This means a reduction in samples and time spent.
After being able to design a product without any physical attributes, who's to say you couldn't pop up a design on Instagram to see what the response is? Virtual wholesaling has been the only way to sell next season's products with travel restrictions in place, so we are really at a place where a brand could receive an order before going into production and thus, eliminating overstock/overproduction.
Now that the product has been designed and sold digitally, its time for us to buy. E-commerce has always been the support to retail but now, we are getting used to buying online and the convenience of having things shipped directly to your home. But have you ever tried to buy jeans online? It's really hard. All those measurements you need to try and figure out and match up to yours - it's all time consuming, but there is now sizing software that can take your exact measurements and match them to your perfect size, all from a couple of photos taken from your phone.
Syze is one company that has done so, and integrates directly with e-commerce sites, saving your sizing info to be used for other online stores, as well. Unspun is a denim brand that has taken this concept to its core, producing custom fitting jeans based on your individual phone scan. The idea of creating your perfect fit on demand is super exciting because you can have exactly what you want without the excess waste!
There will of course be repercussions to going digital, such as loss of jobs, but businesses should provide training and support during these transitions. Technology has always scared me and I think it intimidates a lot of people too. But, it's in our human nature to adapt. What do you think the guys selling horse and buggies thought when the car came around? They were probably beside themselves! But, they also probably started looking at how they could begin to thrive again.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on going digital, so feel free to leave a comment here or on the Simply Suzette Instagram page. Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT!
Leaving you with a beautiful video of Soorty X The Fabricant's digital denim project.