Brands Changing the Face of Fashion Through 3D Printing

Brands Changing the Face of Fashion Through 3D Printing

Over the last year, the face of fashion has taken a turn toward technology. Where 3D accessories became commonplace this year, 3D fabric printing moved in on a more permanent level. In the world of fashion design, especially true for couture, apparel design was a very hands on process. At least, that was the case until now.

The Structured Guide To Ensure Successful Product Development

Fuzzy Front-End in the Fashion Industry

To succeed in fashion, you must be innovative and capture the attention of consumers. To determine the direction and the approach you take, you need to go through the fuzzy front-end process of product development.

This begins by utilizing the tools available in the industry. Technology has allowed the apparel industry to make considerable advancements. It is estimated that 75% of product faults are found when going through the early product development phase. Of those defects, nearly 80% still make it through the final process. The problem is that too often the fuzzy front end process is unstructured and hectic. In order to be successful, you must create a structure to your system that allows the design development to run an analysis and adjust designs.

The fuzzy-front end process has five parts associated with it.

1. The Portfolio Stage

This is the creation of the designs you want to add to your product line. You might use a computer aided drawing program or an old fashioned sketchbook to create them. When you have your designs, you begin to process through them.

2. Project Setup

Begin to piece together what you want to create from the sketches. You remove the designs that aren’t realistic or you feel would clash with the other designs you are considering rolling out.

3. The Planning Phase

You begin to determine the supplies you need. What patterns will go with what items. At this point, you are preparing for the items you’ll create prototypes of.

4. Execution Phase

This is where you produce your working versions of the designs. You determine what works, what doesn’t. All to create the vision you have. This is more about creation and less about pinpointing problems at this point.

5. Review Stage

It is here that you begin to explore the physical designs. You inspect them to see what works with them and what doesn’t. This analysis phase is important because it can help to create new products, while helping you to determine what won’t work. As you do this, you boost the quality of the output and can reduce the costs associated with mass production. Especially if there are flaws in the original design that need to be addressed.

Here’s an important thing to keep in mind with any new product development. More often than not, the early stages will fail. The reason, is that you’ve established at the beginning why it would fail. There is a clear definition of the tools and when you reach this point, you’ve determined why formal development isn’t the best choice. Now for products which would be a success, this process allows you to go through the associated variables and confirm there is a minimal risk of rolling them out.

There are a few things to note.

  1. Have a champion. Their goal is to help focus on making a product successful.
  2. Try to simplify the process. When possible, combine elements to have some uniformity between pieces.
  3. Drop items that are not working. You’ll find that removing these elements from this and future designs reduces the number of flaws your pieces have.
  4. Involve select customers in the process. Design pieces around them, especially high profile figures. Gain their input on what they like and make adjustments to create pieces that shine.
  5. Make certain communication remains open between departments. You need to have everyone working towards the same goal, in order for the fuzzy front-end process to be successful.
  6. Assess items as individual pieces and as part of a collection. If an item works alone and not as part of a collection, consider showcasing it as something else. But never add an item to a collection that doesn’t make sense.
  7. Allow creativity during the fuzzy front-end stage. While the designs and elements are yours, this allowance helps pieces to stand out. If a sample sewer realizes there is something in the design that extends production time and costs, while it can be simplified, give them the authority to change it. You’ll find this does help you in this stage of the process.
  8. Define what you want to accomplish and the priorities for each garment. This can help to better guide you through the process so you can be successful.

With the right approach, you should find that you’re successful with your fuzzy front-end in the product development process. Begin by creating a team who will work together and create magic for your line. With the right players on hand, you’ll have a balanced process designed for success.


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Photo:  Tanya Lefevre

Department Store Survival Guide

Just like any industry, fashion needs to evolve, so it can survive the high level of competition. Department stores are known to have a collection of ready-to-wear apparel for men, women, and children, of any age. Both their offline and online versions are starting to change certain elements in the way they do things for their customers.

Maintaining your name in fashion is a challenge. In every corner of the globe, designers compete to have their work in every major department store in their area. In turn, the department stores make sure that their designs appeal to the frequenting customers. Macroevolution is taking place in the fashion industry and the retail stores should be able to keep up. Once department stores determine what they should do, their profitable future is certain. There should be a hybrid from a cross between fashion and the technology.

Product and frequency change

Accessories and leather goods make up seventy-five percent of exported fashion products. Apparel and Footwear make up the remaining twenty-five percent. It seems that frequent updated collections influence the choice of many fashion conscious customers. Because of their busy lifestyles, customers need an assembled look, rather than a look they construct on their own.

Transparency and sustainability are mandatory

Fashion companies now realize the vital roles of transparency and sustainability. Recently, they have been using eco-friendly materials in making their products. The latest technology in achieving this is the fiber recycling technology. It is now being tested by both H&M and Kering. The technology involves the separation and extraction of materials from used or old clothes. The materials (fibers) are spun again into new fibers.

Emergence of new roles

A brand is not just a name and a logo anymore. There has to be a story behind it. This is where e-branding steps in. Information is then obtained from that data, which is returned to the process of product development. This makes the products have more character and meaning.

Digital is everything

Physical presentations are not that hot anymore. Companies prefer 3D pattern designers to conventional sketchers because of their online clientele. Digital product presentations need a different “eye”, so that the products can present well on the company websites. One example is a black on black product. Online customers like black because of the drama and the character. The online presentation of this product requires a skilled digital pattern designer, so that the details can pop.

Brand new skill sets

Fashion is now in need of designers with the following skill sets:

  1. Technical-minded. Designers should not stick to the pencil anymore. They should be knowledgeable in waterless dyeing, sublimation printing, 3D printing, textile innovations, and 3D designs.
  2. Creative. This is always an essential train in every designer. Creativity should not remain locked in designing. It should also radiate towards strategy formation and problem solving.
  3. Multi-cultural. Geography and language should not be obstacles in fashion anymore.
  4. Strategicand task-driven. The big picture should always be in front of every employee in the fashion industry. The skills to execute methods to attain the set objectives are necessary as well.
  5. Cooperative. This is vital in achieving the quality, design, and speed objectives.


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Photo: Retail Insider

What Customization Means For The Future of Retail

There’s an old cliché, the shirt makes the man. In the right dress shirt, a man can appear sophisticated, successful, and even wealthy. That is especially when the shirt is perfectly tailored and designed for them. So if you pulled a homeless man off the street washed them up and put them in the same shirt, would anyone know the truth?

Chances are, they wouldn’t. With that in mind, how does the philosophy of a dress shirt apply to the future of retail? In this case, think of it as a way to present yourself in a fashion that delivers results. Today, you have hundreds of companies who specialize in different areas who are vying for your business. When you make a decision on the company you go with, who do you choose? Chances are, it isn’t the one with the best price or the highest quality. It is the one who presents themselves in a manner that is appealing and lets you believe their claim they are the best, even if it is just a perception.

Now, say you are looking for a dress shirt and you found a company that will customize the same shirt for you. They take your measurements online, tailor it and send it directly to your home for an affordable price. With this shirt, you don’t have to worry about sleeves that are too long, a collar that’s too tight or a length that is too long. It is perfectly crafted to fit you so that you look your best.

Companies like Trumaker do that. The brainchild of Michael Zhang and Mark Lovas, the company is focused on getting the best fitting shirt on your body. This is also done with information the user inputs into the system and an algorithm helps to create the best design options for the individual. The individual then chooses what they want and the plans are sent to a shirt maker who uses the pattern to create the shirts. This customization allows a person to have more of a say in the product they receive and to look polished in a one of a kind shirt.

More importantly, there is almost no overhead for the Trumaker team. They outsource the shirts to Malaysia to make and only have to produce the patterns they want created. This is similar to the approach Dell took to making computers in the 90s and early 2000s. At this time, they had a small inventory and built computers based on the specifications a customer needed. They could then charge a premium price customers were willing to pay, since the system was handcrafted to their needs.

The company also experiences another benefit. There are no leftover designs and styles that need to be reduced to cover their associated costs. That also means no patterns or sales are required and no staff necessary to handle the bulk of the transaction, since the computer is able to automate almost the entire process.

Today, more companies are going to this highly customized development concept. Where startup is inexpensive and customers get an exceptional product for a fraction of the price. In fact, most customers find they get a better deal when compared to purchasing manufactured items. The reason is the reduced overhead allows higher quality upgrades to be offered for a fraction of the cost. In the case of the shirt, buttons can be upgraded, as can fabric and even embroider for considerably less than it costs to pick up a premium shirt in a store with costly overhead.

What this means is the future of retail needs to look beyond having one size fit all stock. Instead, they should reduce their inventory and allow for on the spot customization that allows for individuality and significant savings for the company.


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Photo: The Independent

Prevent These 3 Mistakes in The Product Development Process

Technical Failings Between Design and Product Development in Fashion

Any functioning business should view design and development as part of an ongoing operational lifecycle. The issue with design and development is that these are two stages of innovation that feature heightened risks, which can lead to the failure of a project. The fashion industry is unique in many ways, but this doesn’t mean that businesses in the industry can’t learn from the NPD (new product development) steps that other industries follow when delivering successful projects.

Three Key Mistakes in the Technical Process

Mistake #1: Failing to Communicate

A lack of communication is often a leading factor when it comes to failures on a project. Designers create an innovative and compelling new piece or collection, and then product developers try to implement that design into production. A lot can get lost between design and manufacturing. Developers may consider cost cutting methods, altering materials or even complete design concepts. Communication is key, and should continue through the NPD process. Developers should not be afraid to feed their concerns back to designers, so that the end product can be a true reflection of the original vision.

Mistake #2: Unrestricted Creativity

Unchecked creativity can also be detrimental to the process. Creative types are the key innovators in the fashion world, however creativity does not always result in a product that is marketable. The design of a product can contribute to up to 80% of the end stage manufacturing costs.

When the budget is tight, development leads need to be given the authority to limit what they accept from design teams. Although it seems counterintuitive to stifle creativity from a later stage in the process, it can actually benefit cost and time to market. Again, communication is key, and a solid leadership structure needs to be implemented. Having a lead product creation executive will be critical to ensuring that everyone involved in the process is on the same page when it comes to operations, restrictions, roles, and responsibilities.

Mistake #3: Designing Without Manufacturing in Mind

DFM (Design for Manufacturing) is a process that is promoted and enforced in many of the leading engineering and technology firms. The fashion industry could benefit from such an approach. Many designers in fashion produce pieces and collections without considering what is feasible from a manufacturing standpoint.

In DFM, design is carried out with consideration to readily available materials, production methods, and costs. Development teams would closely collaborate with designers when a system of DFM is in place. Rather than stifling creativity, DFM enables designers to think outside of the box while using a predetermined set of resources. There’s still opportunity for innovation, but ultimately the products that reach market will be more profitable and easier to produce.

Collaboration is Key

A lack of collaboration is often the lead determining factor in technical failings between fashion designers and developers. Designers cannot work completely independently of development teams, and development teams should not be afraid to go back to designers when a product doesn’t suit current technologies or financial restrictions.

By implementing better NPD processes, fashion companies will be able to bring more products to market, without the risk of failed projects and costly product design cycles.


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