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3D Design is Creating a More Sustainable Future

By Joshua Williams

Jan 14, 2021

Almost overnight, fashion design companies and fashion design students were forced to move to a mostly remote work environment and away from the studio and tools of their trade. For many designers, this meant shifting their practice into a more virtual space, using emergent technologies such as Clo3D.

Would you rather listen to this story? Find the full podcast with Soojin Kang here.

It’s an expensive process and takes expertise that is largely non-existent in the current workforce. However, for companies and schools that were already implementing 3D design into their workflow, the switch came more easily according to Soojin Kang, a fashion designer and faculty member at Parsons School of Design. “I had the privilege to teach the first Clo3d trial class at Parsons, and so when the pandemic hit we did not have any significant difficulties switching from offline to online.”

Soojin describes the remote teaching and learning process, “I was able to do live demonstrations via Clo3d software by sharing my screen on Zoom. I could then remote control a student’s screen and give them technical support right away. Even remotely, my students were still able to make 3D garments in the digital space, expressing their designs and outcomes beautifully; and with very few problems.” End quote.

When Parsons decided to go fully online for the fall, Clo3D was adopted into all third level courses, with the support and enthusiasm of students, who recognized this skill as an important one in their toolkit. Says Soojin “I am very excited for our current Parsons students who will obtain 3D design knowledge and experiences before they graduate.”

Soojin notes that the industry has reached a tipping point. The need for 3D design experience and skills will not just be helpful on a resume, it will become a mandatory skillset, especially as businesses understand its benefits. She observes, “When it comes to the workplace, 3D design opens up more possibilities, everything from the design process, production cycles, communications in overseas and internal meetings. And it’s a chance to save resources and reduce the textile waste.” She continues, “In a 3D environment, the designer can create 3D shapes in real-time by creating 2D Patterns and digital sewing in digital space. You can check the fit, silhouette and materials by simulating them on a 3D avatar.”

And yes, in a 3D environment, designers lack the ability to touch, feel and drape fabrics, but she emphasizes, “The transformation from 2D to 3D in real-time is a genuinely fascinating and powerful tool, especially for designers who have a strong textile background. It will save companies so much time when it comes to decision making and proto making, as well as save resources such as sample yardages.”

Soojin recommends that working designers and students alike take the time to learn 3D design. She says it’s not necessary to know other software, although having garment construction knowledge is fundamental and knowing Photoshop and Illustrator is helpful. They can start by networking with other 3D designers and searching for OBJ files and avatars. She also points out that there are many tutorial videos available online, including resources she has created for designers at wearable3d.com.

While the immediate need for virtual 3D design is being primarily driven by business concerns around remote work and learning during the pandemic, Soojin points out there are long term benefits for companies, if they begin the transition now, rather than later. She concludes “Adopting 3D virtual design is a very effective, powerful, and sustainable way of working for the future of fashion and product design industries.”