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From weeks to hours in sample production

Published on
October 20, 2022

Co-founder and CMO of GAT Fashion Lab. With over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry Mauricio leads the Creative and Sales Teams.

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Samples development is key when manufacturing fashion collections; however, it is an un slow and expensive process; still, thanks to technology, we are able to go from weeks to hours in apparel prototyping.

Within our work process, sample design and development prior production is key, but it used to be slow as well, and therefore, expensive.

In GAT Fashion Lab, we help big fashion brands develop their fashion collections, literally going from ideas, needs, requirements, or trends, to 100% industrial garments.

The sample tailoring process is the point when we go from an idea to a physical garment, that we'll use to sell our designs, but in order to achieve it, we need to carry out several activities, almost simultaneously:

  1. Raw material supply: To create a sample, we first need to have all supplies (fabric, labels, yarns, buttons, etc.) in our workshop.
  2. Pattern design: The making of piece patterns that comprise the garment. These patterns will adjust according to size shapes: XS,S,M,L, etc. Patterns are literally the garment's drawings according to which the pieces of fabric that are part of the garment will be then cut down. At this point we already know with accuracy, what would be the amount of fabric needed as well as further garment supplies.
  3. Apparel engineering: The definition of how such a garment will be manufactured, what processes will be used, what's the estimated tailoring time, and with this input we'll calculate an estimated garment price, concerning production.  For example: For a lot of 2.000 units, each garment will have a cost of USD$9.85.
  4. Cutting: Once we have patterns and supplies, we go ahead to printing the patterns and cutting the pieces of fabric.
  5. Tailoring: With the already cut pieces and supplies at hand, it is time to tailor the garment. At this point, time is also measured by an operator to tailor the garment, in order to calculate the total production time and cost.
  6. Measurement: Once the garment is tailored, we move on to measure it onto a model, according to each brand's measurement charts. Should there be issues or details to be improved, we take note of them and take the garment back in order to fix them.
  7. Adjustments: According to type of adjustment, we adjust patterns again, or run the needed processes. Once fixed, we measure again and if the garment is at its 100%, we move it to delivery.
  8. Delivery: We present the garment to our client for approval. This garment has estimated production costs embedded, according to  each brand's quantities.

As you can see, it is a rather long and complex process, so in order to develop a garment, going from an idea, up to a physical sample could roughly take up to two or three weeks, or even more, depending on whether we have the supplies.

Nonetheless, a few months ago, we began implementing a technology that allows us to develop validated samples within less than 5 hours. What is it?... 3D Software!

Although most companies in the industry use pattern design software (we use Optitex, the most popular in Colombia) most of us remain in the 2D world.  We used to make patterns, print, measure, and go back to make adjustments in the software, to then print and cut again, after tailoring. But, why? Basically, because we didn't know how to use the software's 3D tools, and finding people who knew how to work with 3D , within the industry is not easy (so, if you know how to 3D... Contact us here, we'd love to meet you).

Still, by mid-year 2022, we decided to have our team trained and work towards 3D technology. And though it was rather painful at first, we started seeing amazing results, within less than a month.  

That 8 steps process that could take up to 2 or 3 weeks, was reduced to a couple of hours’ time. So, we go from an idea to a photorealistic render in less than 4 hours, and the best is that we do it with parametric patterns, adjusted to each size.

Sketch to 3D model to physical sample in less than 48 hours.

Main advantages of 3D in fashion industry:

Probably the main advantages of 3D software implementation in the fashion industry are the adjustments. Since making adjustments on a garment, the old way, implied remaking the piece almost from scratch. With 3D software, size validation and garment simulation, allows to  identify issues and make adjustments in a matter of minutes, thus directly fixing the 2D patterns much earlier than printing them or cutting an inch of fabric.

It is very important to clarify that 3D samples will not replace physical samples. But they are a tool that helps very low cost and super-fast prototyping and without capital or supply risks. 

In our new process, we go from the sketch to 3D and then validate with the client's feedback about the design. Once 3D garment has been validated and design approved, we tailor the physical sample in less than 24 hours

3D technology offers us countless advantages, but we want to highlight three specific ones:

  • Speed: You literally go from days or weeks to hours or minutes to obtain a hyper-realistic prototype of your design.
  • Savings: There is no risk of money spent on supplies, or sample tailoring in that you would otherwise have to fix, and that may cost more than USD$100 each. With 3D you get a design, and you can make all the adjustments you want in minutes.
  • Validation: Thanks to the hyper-realistic finishing of a render(the picture of a 3D garment), making validations concerning market, pre-sales, or as in our case: Design samples, without physical garments, is 100% doable and super recommended, because as we've stated, there's no risk of capital and you can have really quick feedback, to make a winner design.

So, you are in the fashion industry and not yet investing in 3D? We invite you to start learning about it. If you are a professional in the industry, and know or want to learn more about 3D, please contact us here, we’d love to meet you.

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