“With 3D our sizing issues will be solved.”
Quick read: In order to start and fully profit from digital product development nail down your body measurements in detail beforehand. Throwing new fits on accurate avatars won’t take you to the goal of zero samples straight away. Utilize 3D for what it currently is: an impressively correct visualisation tool.
The believe that 3D will solve all sizing issues actually has an ironic twist to it. It’s quite the opposite because you can’t start with 3D until you have your body measurements figured out. I went through that process myself and learned very quickly from a technical perspective you need 3 key assets to kick start your in house 3D development (apart from technical trained staff, a connected CAD system and material scans):
A 3D software provider that matches your business case
An avatar provider
An extended list of body measurements
When wanting to check the outcome of a garment the 3D software requires an avatar. Avatars are not hard to get but every provider will ask you which one you want to have. Replying with “just a standard one” will not get you anywhere. The reason is quite simply imbedded in the answer to the misconception in chapter 1 “Soon there will be one standard body measurement chart”. Your avatar as well as your body measurements are a vital part of your brand DNA and therefor need to be customized. This exercise requires an extended set of body measurements which need to be carefully taken and applied onto the avatar (as you know from chapter 2: there is no exact standard way of measuring).
Another unpopular fact is that 3D is far from replacing real garment fittings. For some highly standardized product categories (like T-shirts, men’s shirts and pants,…) there is no doubt how far the new technology can take you without seeing any sample. The better your tested block patterns are established the further you can go.
Depending on the material type some of the key market players such as Browzwear and CLO have been pushing the quality of digital visualisation super far for wovens and circular knits. Also impressive is Shima Seiki's SDS-One Apex system to accuratly visualising flat knits. But still there is no accurate measurable way to determine whether a new pattern “fits”. To be clear, with "fit" I'm refering to the fact whether an under arm width is perceived as too small, or wether it is possible to knee down in that tight pants. Heat maps give quite a good indication but they remain an indication.
3D can reduce the number of samples but the road to the golden future of “zero samples” is still a long one. As a pattern maker I’m thrilled to see this technology moving forward.
Read the other articles of this series here:
Chapter I: The "Universal Standard"
Chapter II: The "Sizing Recommendation"
Chapter III: The "Visual Translation Effect"
Chapter IV: "Grading - Body vs. Style"
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