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Extending our Evaluations to 3D


After numerous enquiries from the industry – both from retailers, brands and manufacturers, and software vendors – WhichPLM is delighted to announce our plans for a new set of 3D Evaluations.

Three-dimensional working is nothing new. Computer Aided Design tools (in both 3D and 2D variants) are fundamentally important to industries as seemingly disconnected as shipbuilding, medicine, and Hollywood post-production. But while automotive, engineering, consumer electronics and a host of other product-led sectors have all embraced the transition to computer-aided working, the fashion industry was, until recently, slow on the uptake.

By now, however, pioneering developers (and long-standing 3D giants) are marketing intuitive 3D solutions that meet – and often exceed – the expectations of retail, footwear and apparel industry professionals in the areas of design, prototyping, virtual sampling, store planning, marketing, collaboration and even (through the bleeding edge technology of 3D digital printing) manufacturing.

WhichPLM believes that 3D working can now support product development for fashion in three key areas: identity, fidelity and integrity. And although a small number of 3D solutions on the market support low-level integration to PLM, we consider 3D to be more than just another tool under the ‘extended-PLM’ umbrella and, rather, it’s own virtual design platform.

3D has arrived, and it’s already in use from head to toe, and hats to high heels. The story of 3D, is no longer a ‘nice to have gimmick’, but an advanced fast-fashion technology and a digital-first mindset that can change the way brands, retailers and manufacturers around the world do business.

Everything from buttons and buckles to bracelets and experimental footwear designs are being printed directly from 3D CAD files using low-cost additive manufacturing techniques. High-fidelity products and collections are being marketed online before their physical counterparts even exist, and entire handbag and footwear photoshoots are being conducted virtually, with colourways, materials, eyelets, furniture and other components – all alterable with a few clicks.

In a market where mass adoption is nudging core PLM products towards feature parity, extended solutions like 3D have become increasingly important, helping to contextualise and complement PLM’s place in modern brand and retail operations.

It’s for these reasons that WhichPLM is embarking on something new; we’re extending our benchmarking arm to include 3D Evaluations. The success of our already-published PLM Supplier Evaluations led us to think one step further – and we weren’t alone. We’ve been fielding enquiries from retailers, brands and manufacturers for the last couple of years regarding 3D evaluations.

We consider 3D as the foremost technology capable of revolutionising the long-standard paradigms of design, development, manufacture and consumer engagement. And all of that transformative potential lies in the creation and manipulation of a single, high-fidelity digital asset – that 3D dress, hat, shoe or handbag – at multiple stages of the product lifecycle.

Those readers who have downloaded copies of our Supplier Evaluations will know that a WhichPLM Evaluation is unlike any other benchmark or review provided by other industry analysts. Our research methods are exhaustive and truly expert, and our conclusions independent, unbiased, and informed by 35 years of hands-on fashion technology experience.

We pride ourselves on being completely impartial. This ethical stance underpins our day-to-day work, and shapes the processes we use to evaluate suppliers and software.

Although we do benchmark the solution in question we also take a more holistic view of the vendor themselves, seeking to understand their ethos, competencies, industry knowledge, customer insights, services and support capabilities, geographical presence, international solution offering and business sustainability. After all, choosing a vendor involves choosing a long-term partner on the basis of more than just software.

So, watch out for downloadable 3D Evaluations coming to the WhichPLM site in the coming year(s).

And if you’re a vendor interested in an evaluation of your own 3D system or software, then please get in touch.

Lydia Mageean Lydia Mageean has been part of the WhichPLM team for eight 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 our PLM Project Pack, or our Annual Publications, 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.