3D technology has made huge strides within the fashion/apparel space over the last few years with most brands either having already made a solid investment in the area, or at least recognising the need to invest in the near future. While the siloed benefits of digital product creation are already being realised, the true disruptive potential of these tools is only possible if an end-to-end digital ecosystem is created.
When Joshua Young, Former 3D Studio Director with Nike, spoke at PI Apparel New York this summer, he used the metaphor of building a car (3D ecosystem) with one hand tied behind your back (lack of PLM). After all, the benefits of 3D are easily measurable - it has the ability to reduce waste and lead development timelines through digital prototyping, which also has the sustainability factor. But – how can this be done accurately without the holistic view of your garment and its supply chain that PLM provides?
Josh Young, Speaking at PI Apparel New York
Yet, in terms of culture, 3D is often seen more of a creative tool, and PLM an IT tool. Really, the cultural ideal is having designers recognise that should these two platforms work together, the preproduction phase of the value chain will be more efficient for everyone in the long run. Simon Kim, Chief Strategy Officer of CLO Virtual Fashion who are currently taking the apparel world by storm, stresses that if you intend to use 3D to its full potential, it needs to be at the centre of your process innovation.
3D is not merely a tool that fits into the current process to make it a little more efficient."
- Simon Kim, Chief Strategy Officer, CLO Virtual Fashion
Brands need to be working with software providers to develop effective communication between PLM and 3D platforms; this doesn't necessarily mean having to be exclusive with one provider across the two disciplines, but recognising the need for them to speak to one another from the beginning and building this into each one's deployment strategy.
As 3D continues to grow, its functionality has largely overlapped with, and in some instances overtaken, the same functionality within PLM. Add to that, the long-term business vision of 3D would be sooner achieved if these tools had access to the stores of data within PLM and its obvious more work needs to be done to bridge these worlds together.