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A 3D Software Solution is a Perfect Fit For Your Supply Chain

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In their latest piece for WhichPLM, hardware and software provider Gerber Technology explores just how valuable the right 3D solution can be to a business – especially when integrated to PLM.

According to Mintel, 81% of consumers who buy clothes that fit right are much more likely to buy from that brand again. However, with $642.6 billion worth of merchandise returned annually, it’s clear that the fashion and apparel industry is having a difficult time perfecting fit. What has built the brands with staying power, like Ralph Lauren for example, is their ability to design great products, using great fabric, and always having a consistent fit.

One size doesn’t fit all

When buying clothes online, for many of us, our first thought is, “Well, what size am I?” This is often due to the fact there is a major discrepancy in sizing across the fashion industry that makes it difficult to know what your “true” size is. Someone might wear a medium shirt in one brand but a size large in another, which is not only extremely frustrating for consumers but it also results in more returns.

Currently, the fashion industry is also facing backlash for not being inclusive by offering larger sizes. Many brands offer a limited number of sizing options, which makes it difficult for consumers to find clothing that fits them well if they don’t fall within the “average” size range.

Today, the average American wears between a U.S. size 16 and size 18 but many fashion brands often don’t offer these larger sizes, excluding a good portion of potential consumers, making it more difficult to find clothes that fit them well. However, expanding a size line isn’t as easy as it seems. With more sizes, companies need to create more samples which can be costly and time consuming without an efficient process.

The Digital Age

As more and more people start to make online shopping their top choice for buying clothes, the “fit” problem is only being exacerbated. According to Statisa, return deliveries will cost over $500 billion by 2020, which is 75.2% more than the prior four years. It’s no secret that one of the top reasons clothing is returned has to do with it not fitting properly.

Since brands and manufacturers are struggling to resolve the “fit” issue, consumers are finding ways to alleviate the pain points in the buying process. Many consumers are purchasing multiple sizes with the intent to return the ones that do not fit properly, costing brands and retailers time and money.

Make sure you’re choosing the right option for your workflow

Brands, retailers, and manufacturers are trying to find ways to efficiently fix the “fit” issue plaguing the fashion and apparel industry, but it is not an easy task. Attempting to perfect fit without the right tools can be inefficient and time-consuming, without any guarantee that the fit of the garment will be improved at all.

There are a host of potential solutions to improve fit but many of them come with problems of their own that will greatly affect the efficiency of your workflow. For example, you could improve fit by making more samples but that would be more costly and not sustainable. Many companies are also starting to implement 3D body scanners to fix fit, but many smaller and up-and-coming brands don’t have the budget or the time to invest in such an expensive piece of equipment.

So what can you do to solve the “fit” problem AND optimize your workflow?

More than just a pretty picture

In order to tackle fit, the industry needs a solution that will allow for more accurate samples without having to spend time or money on sampling. Designers need a solution that will allow alterations to be done quickly without making more physical samples.

For a while now, the industry has been utilizing 3D software as just an aesthetic capability even though 3D has much more to offer than just a pretty picture. When combined with a 2D pattern design software, a 3D solution can alleviate issues and improve the overall efficiency of the supply chain with fit by providing realistic virtual samples of the final product.

An integrated approach

Taking control of the “fit” problem starts with figuring out how a 3D solution can fit into your workflow. Many brands are relying on 3D alone to fix issues with the fit of their garments, but that’s not an effective, or efficient, solution. In order to truly leverage the full power of a 3D solution, you need a 2D pattern design software and an easy-to-use PLM.

The success of 3D virtual sampling is measured by whether or not you can trust that the representation on the screen will match the physical final product, which means the 3D sample needs to be built with precise pattern data.

A robust CAD pattern design solution provides fuel for accurate virtual representations. With seamless 2D-to-3D integration, pattern data is able to be quickly passed to the 3D solution to create an accurate virtual sample.

Brands, retailers, and manufacturers can fully leverage the highly-realistic renderings to conquer the fit problem and further streamline their supply chain. With virtual renderings, alterations can be made in the 2D software and then validated in the 3D space, greatly reducing the number of physical samples needed while saving time and reducing costs.

The realistic virtual samples will also allow brands to act on the need for expanded size lines. Many 3D applications have a variety of avatars to choose from that will allow designers to see how their garments fit on different body types without having to increase their budget to fit in more physical samples.

Complete your 3D workflow with a PLM

What good is having a 3D workflow if you can’t effectively manage it? In order to fully streamline your workflow, you need a reliable PLM solution that can give you greater insight into your supply chain. Many of the top PLM systems allow you to see and manage all your 3D files and improve collaboration and communication among teams and partners by using virtual sample callouts. A PLM integration allows designers and technical designers to see samples in the virtual space before developing a physical sample, enabling them to quickly make adjustments to their designs and create new samples within a matter of days, compared to weeks with a physical sample.

In addition, many of the leading PLM solutions also seamlessly integrate with other applications which can alleviate the “fit” issue even further. For example, a PLM could integrate with True Fit® to help consumers find the correct size when shopping. Through the seamless integration, True Fit would be able to pull detailed measurement data from the PLM Tech Packs, giving consumers more confidence when choosing which size to buy.

Prepare for the future of the industry

Virtual sampling helps brands, retailers, and manufacturers increase their speed while reducing costs associated with physical samples. In some cases, those who utilize a 3D virtual sample can see a time saving of up to 50% and save 70% in costs.

Completely integrating technology into your design process will not only keep your consumer-base satisfied by improving the way your garments fit, but you’ll also streamline your workflow, reduce costs and get your products to market faster than ever before. As trends move faster and quick delivery becomes an expectation, technology is going to become a requirement, so now is the time to make the changes you need in order to be #NowTrending.

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Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for over six years now. She has a creative and media background, and is responsible for maintaining and updating our website content, liaising with advertisers, working on special projects like the Annual Review, and more.Joining mid-2013 as our Online Editor, she has since become WhichPLM’s Editor. In addition to taking on writing and interviewing responsibilities, Lydia has also become the primary point of contact for news, events, features and other aspects of our ever-growing online content library and tools.