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27 February 2024

3D integration in fashion: from idea to reality

In a constantly evolving industry, the adoption of cutting-edge technologies has become a business imperative. Among these advances, the integration of 3D modeling in the fashion industry is emerging as a revolutionary tool. It redefines design and production processes. This technology therefore offers players in the fashion, luxury and retail sectors infinite opportunities. This allows them to unleash their creativity and improve their efficiency.

In this article, we’ll explore best practices for integrating 3D into product design . We’ll give you the essential questions to ask, from software selection to the key steps you need to take to ensure your project’s success.

Questions to ask yourself before going 3D

We are a consulting firm specializing in PLM and 3D for fashion, luxury goods, retail and cosmetics companies. So we understand the importance of approaching 3D integration from a strategic angle. Quite often, 3D is seen simply as a change of software. However, it can truly transform your product development process. It can also respond to major strategic challenges in our sector.

Successfully integrating 3D requires careful thought and strategic planning. Indeed, it’s essential to understand upstream how 3D can help solve global challenges such as reducing ecological footprints, optimizing costs, stimulating creativity and improving productivity. If this approach is neglected, there is a risk that the use of 3D will remain limited to a single department, affect only a small number of people, and eventually be abandoned for lack of sufficient support and commitment.

That’s why it’s essential to ask yourself the right questions before embarking on a 3D project.

What are my company’s strategic challenges, and how can 3D help address one or more of them?

  • Enjeux de productivité / organisationnel : A-t-on la nécessité de booster la créativité du département artistique ? Faut-il faciliter la collaboration entre les départements ou les fournisseurs ?
  • Enjeux marketing / business : Souhaite-t-on capter de nouveaux marchés ? Offrir une expérience unique aux consommateurs grâce aux nouvelles technologies ? Faut-il accélérer le développement de vos collections pour être plus compétitif ?
  • Enjeux écologiques : Mon entreprise cherche-t-elle à réduire son empreinte carbone ? Limiter le nombre de prototypes ?
  • Enjeux d’innovation : Veut-on être une entreprise précurseur en matière de digitalisation ?

    “I always suggest that brands take a moment of reflection to define their medium- and long-term ambitions.” Alexandra BUOR

    Like any new project, it requires investment in terms of time, labor and money. So set your goals and prioritize them. This will enable you to define a realistic roadmap, better frame your project and define the ecosystem structure to be put in place.

    How to choose the best 3D fashion software?

    Choosing your 3D software is a crucial step in ensuring the success of your deployment project. To best meet your specific needs, it’s important to consider several key factors and follow a precise scoping methodology.

    1. Identify your functional requirements based on your strategic objectives 🎯

    First, review your strategic objectives. Would you like to offer consumers an immersive experience with augmented reality? Accelerate your product development? Reduce prototype costs? Or strengthen collaboration with your suppliers? Defining your needs precisely will help you select the most suitable software.

    2. Evaluate features and costs 💸

    Secondly, according to your priorities, evaluate the functionalities offered by each software package. If you’re aiming for a high-quality user experience, choose software with advanced 3D modeling features. To keep your costs under control, consider the cost of the license. Don’t overlook training costs and the cost of renewing computers to meet 3D needs. Don’t forget to factor in hidden costs (the development of an API between 3D software and other software in your product IS, for example).

    3. Consider interoperability and security 🔐

    Thirdly, think about the software’s interoperability with your existing systems: which software will you connect your 3D to? Is it possible to create a fully integrated 3D ecosystem? Where will your data be stored? In what format will they be sent? Also make sure the software meets your company’s IT security requirements and RGPD rules to protect your sensitive data.

    4. Make a comparative analysis ⚖️

    Once your needs are clearly defined, launch a benchmark by calling on several publishers. Involve key members of your team from the outset, as they will become your internal relays in the project. This comparative analysis will enable you to choose the 3D software best suited to your needs and your business.

    What are the key stages in integrating 3D?


    1. Build your project team 👯‍♂️

    Integrating 3D requires a paradigm shift within your organization. Teams are no longer organized in departmental silos, but in “project” mode around the 3D asset. This requires a 180° change in the way we collaborate and work.

    To start the project, set up a project team: a project manager ideally attached to the transformation department or the IT department, and a consultant familiar with the world of 3D. As the project is a company-wide issue, a sponsor from the top management team will contribute to the messages to be conveyed during the various stages of the transformation. This trio, where team cohesion and communication will be a solid foundation for the project’s success.

    Then, from the outset, involve a unit made up of professionals from different professions (stylist, pattern maker, buyer, product manager, marketing manager, etc.) to guarantee a cross-functional, collaborative approach. These people will become your project’s internal ambassadors.

    2. Map your current process 🗺️

    To succeed in your transformation, it’ s essential to have a clear vision of the entire lifecycle of your collections. Meticulously map every step, every tool, every player and every interaction. Involve each department in this process, and get them to specify their specific needs.

    This approach enables you to visualize your organization at a given moment and define the starting point for your transformation. Through your collaborative workshops, you begin to share a global vision of the process and everyone’s challenges, so as to gently initiate the change that 3D implies.

    3. Design your ideal process with 3D ✒️

    From there, you have all the cards in hand to imagine tomorrow’s process and define how 3D will be integrated into your product circuit. Thanks to the first two stages, everyone was able to familiarize themselves with the current process.

    It’s time to design your ideal process:

    – Start by identifying your organization’s strengths and areas for improvement. The aim will be to solve the problems identified, using 3D technology and/or a new approach to work, while maintaining the strengths of the current process.

    – Then invite all the different professions (design, product development, review & buying, production and marketing) to design the dream process using 3D. The aim is to find ways of using 3D to meet these challenges, and at the same time make it easier for everyone to adopt the technology. By approaching this work in a collaborative way, you make everyone aware of the operational constraints on the whole process, and break down the barriers between departments.

    4. Arbitrate and measure performance 🔎

    It’s rare to be able to integrate 3D into the entire product development chain simultaneously. However, you’ve already identified and prioritized the issues that 3D should address in your company. By taking the ideal process and strategic issues into account, you’ll be able to prioritize the deployment phases. You’ll then be able to give teams full visibility of decisions made, project milestones and key milestones.

    “Typically, at this stage, many brands are impatient, and have particularly high expectations. Stay realistic! A full, solid roll-out takes place over several seasons, depending on the size of the collections and the number of people involved in the product circuit.” Alexandra BUOR

    To launch your project and closely monitor its progress and return on investment, you’ll need to define your key success indicators. These indicators must be directly linked to the company’s strategic challenges and the operational challenges of the business teams. Then, it’s in your interest to communicate them regularly, both to management (to support your project) and to your teams (to involve them in its success and keep them informed).

    5. Get started and don’t forget the human dimension! ❤️

    Form your “project” team and launch 3D on part of your product development process for a first collection (ideally a collection of timeless, repeat or even less complex models). The idea is to be able to experience the written process.

    Make an initial assessment and adjust the new process that has been devised. Once you’ve successfully completed your tests, you can start integrating 3D to scale!

    You should also be aware that 3D modeling requires you to learn a new tool. This implies a certain increase in technical skills, but also in interpersonal skills, notably flexibility, the ability to adapt/ step out of one’s comfort zone, open-mindedness, and the ability to question one’s (often strongly held) ideas. Change therefore relies heavily on people, and success lies in providing support and guidance to teams.

    “Once 3D has been launched, it’s funny to hear from your teams that it’s impossible to go back, whereas at first it seemed impossible to change the way things were done. Once you hear that, you can consider the transformation a success.” Alexandra BUOR

    Deploying 3D within your organization will generate a wide range of expectations, and may be perceived differently by different teams and departments. This is to be expected, as it will not impact employees in the same way. As well as being a profoundly transformative change internally (both personally and professionally), it will also have repercussions on the company’s culture. So it’s vital to providefriendly, close support throughout the deployment process, and above all to communicate!

    In a nutshell…

    Successfully integrating 3D into product design for fashion companies requires a strategic, collaborative and human-centered approach. By following these key steps and mobilizing a committed team, you can turn your vision into reality and stimulate innovation in your organization. Don’t forget that change relies on everyone’s involvement, and that transparent communication is essential to maintain momentum and ensure the success of your project.

    For more information, or for assistance with this type of project, don’t hesitate to contact our team 📩