A female fashion designer sitting on a stool while analyzing her sketches

How 3D Technology Will Shape the Future of Fashion

Greg Moore joined Supply Compass in a webinar panel discussion surrounding the state of 3D in the apparel and fashion industries

Webinar Recap with Supply Compass

On January 27, 2021, our CEO and co-founder, Greg Moore, shared the virtual stage with Flora Davidson (Co-Founder & Head of Product at Supply Compass), Avihay Feld (Co-Founder & CEO of Browzwear), and Yazan Malkosh (Founder & CEO of Swatchbook) to discuss the state of digitization and 3D in the apparel and fashion industries.

3D design has been in these industries for several years, but less than 2% of designers use digital 3D tools during the design process.  Most still use 2D solutions. Read the full webinar recap here.

We’ve been so integrated with a rise in production, quick production, quick pace, but we forget the tools that allow us to do that from an efficiency standpoint. While we have this desire to move towards digitization, we also have the need to be nimble. - Greg Moore, CEO, WAIR

How Design Teams Develop without Digital 3D Tools

To learn why digital 3D design matters so much, we need to understand how most fashion designers work.  Most fashion teams align with the following development/deployment schedule:

  1. A product's journey generally begins with the technical design team. This team is responsible for the pattern blocks and the intended “fit” of the product. They are constantly taking in feedback from their shoppers and internal teams to determine whether their pattern blocks are aligning with their shoppers’ bodies.
  2. Following technical design, the design team then takes over. They are responsible for transforming the pattern blocks into beautiful products meant to excite shoppers. Design teams generally do this with sketches or 2D tools like Adobe Illustrator, AutoDesk Design Software, etc.
  3. After a product is designed, the team will then get a physical sample made so that the technical design, design, and quality teams can see the product in a live format. They will then drape the product on mannequins and fit models to evaluate feedback and fit. Any revisions to the design occur at this time, and new samples are requested. This process will continue until the team achieves final sign-off on the product.
  4. Approved products are sent to the merchandising & sales teams who are responsible for selling the product to retail or wholesale channels.

The Cost of Designing Without Digital 3D Tools

The 4 step process we outlined above requires a tremendous amount of time, cost, and labor, and creates a substantial amount of material and CO2 waste. The majority of the time, waste is developed during steps 2 and 3, as several versions of a product can be created and discarded until the product receives final approval.

The Design Process after Adopting Digital 3D Tools

3D avatars used in the fashion industry

Now let’s assume that a brand has worked with WAIR to acquire their true-to-life digital 3D avatars that best represent their shoppers’ bodies and has integrated digital 3D solutions from leading vendors like Browzwear, Clo3D, or Optitex.  Steps 1, 2, and most of 3 are collapsed into one step that is 100% digital. Both the technical design and design team are developing the pattern for a product with a clear understanding of how the product will drape and fit the shopper before ever seeing a physical sample. These teams will generally experience a reduction in a product's time to market, as well as a decrease in material and CO2 waste to finalize the design.

What’s Holding the Industry Back?

Given the benefits of digital 3D design, why is only 2% of the fashion industry using it?


Using digital 3D design tools does require additional education and training. The brands that have integrated these tools and workflows have clearly invested in up-leveling their staff.

 Supplier Communication

The supply chain is still very “protected.”  Cross-platform communication is non-existent, and most solutions have developed proprietary file formats.  Some of the supply chains may be on another digital 3D platform, which presents a conformity challenge.


Prior to WAIR, the price of digital avatars was exorbitantly high. Furthermore, there was no evidence that they truly represented the body dimensions of shoppers. 

Where Do We Go From Here

While digital 3D design is the way of the future, it is important to understand the steps required to achieve material adoption. As we work together as an industry to become more sustainable, it will take a sense of collaboration and investment in education to get there. 

About WAIR’s 3D Journey

WAIR first got into the fashion industry by helping 3D-enabled brands like Nike, Superdry, PVH, and The Warehouse baseline and optimize their sizing strategies using the body dimensions of their regional shoppers. The brands that are 3D enabled are able to adopt these optimized strategies almost immediately result in higher conversion rates and a decrease in size and fit return rates.

Interested in learning more about WAIR? Schedule a demo here and be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram , LinkedIn, and Facebook for all your fashion content needs!

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