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3D Fashion and Future of Technology

The year 2020 made us rethink our lives in many ways and it also became a catalyst for prioritizing sustainability and making it the new business reality. (Yes, even for the world of fashion!) That year was not the usual time gone by but rather a reflection of how bad things became environmentally and how desperately we needed to change things up by taking accountability.

Sustainability has become a business necessity and not just a differentiator today. We’ve seen a rise in consumer-focused movements in the past few months that reminded us how our small individual choices matter and how these changes really make an impact. But when it comes to harm reduction, do our canvas grocery totes really make a difference compared to large-scale fashion waste?

While the largest actions need to come from the largest entities, the loudest advocacy may have to come from the consumers—us, our actions, activism, and spending. This is where 3D Fashion comes into play. As M. Cobanli once said, “The best way to change the future is to design it.”

Source: ELSE corp

One of the fashion industry’s serious problems is wastage and pollution. Traditional sample making is not a sustainable approach to follow as it contributes to massive wastage of raw material, and most of this material ends up in landfills. Fashion is constantly evolving and creatively erupting at lightning speed. With technology and science added to the mix, the futuristic vision and execution by established designers and avant-garde labels are riveting.

When technology becomes an integral part of experimenting in design, 3D fashion is born. Our planetary circumstances demand that we rethink our relationship with fashion. We need to stop creating endless collections that require us to deplete precious natural resources and ultimately end up in the landfill. Digital fashion is a means to express ourselves and explore our identity without the boundaries of the physical world, so it’s this limitless creative playground where we can be anything we want to be. Digital clothes are for all genders, all body types and all sizes, and you can be free from the limitations of reality.

Designers Ahead in the 3D Fashion Game

Digging deep within the subject, let’s dissect the work of a few revolutionary designers working relentlessly to bring 3D fashion at the forefront! To begin with, kinetic fashion was popularised by Dutch designer Iris van Herpen during her debut Paris Haute Couture week presentation in 2018. The idea is to apply scientific methodology in fashion and create silhouettes that are in motion. She challenged the complexities of natural formations and translated them into her designs.

Gaurav Gupta and Amit Aggarwal are Indian designers who have taken couture in the country beyond its traditional barriers too. Their designs are all about edgy, functional silhouettes created out of experimental fabrics like recycled plastic and metallic polymers. While Aggarwal infuses technology through engineering unconventional fabrics in conventional ways, Gupta creates sculptural drama by getting his imagination run wild. The designers have taken the theory of 3D fashion and practically incorporated it into the Indian design aesthetic.

With their 3D collections, they have taken sustainability up a notch. From their futuristic vision to casting aside a lot of plastic to create newer, more thoughtful textiles, from using recycled sequin tubes, corded ruffles and moulded acrylic to mastering techniques such as pleating, ribbing through the polymer, plissé, fine draping, with 3D embroideries, these designers are clearly leading the pack.

Pivoting a Sustainable Fashion Future for Brands with 3D and Digitalisation

Brands are going digital from 2021 onwards and creating a space in the virtual world. The Fabricant is one of the world’s first digital fashion houses, creating 3D garments and fashion stories that are non-physical and futuristic. When The Fabricant was established in 2018, fashion was the last major creative industry to digitise. If you think of any other industries such as film, music or photography, they all had strongly established digital cultures already. Fashion was clinging to old school thinking and resistant to futuristic technology.

Source: Eco-Age

But today, the same has taken a flip. All of The Fabricant’s work is created on adigital atelier, which uses high-resolution screens over scissors and cutting tables, to bring their pieces to existence. The conceptual process is similar to that of a traditional fashion house with mood boards and samples of designs, except the entire process is digital; nothing physical is ever used. When their designs are conceptualised, they are ‘stitched’ together in 3D to create fully realised digital garments that are worked to a high level of craft and finished to make them flawless and hyper-real futuristic.

Leading fashion brand Ralph Lauren also announced a new collaboration with ZEPETO–global social networking and avatar simulation app in 2021, where users can immerse themselves in a fully articulated virtual world with a personalised 3D avatar and socialise with other users. Named Ralph Lauren x ZEPETO, the partnership consists of a digital apparel collection and a thematic virtual world. Ralph Lauren apparel is reimagined for the digital world of ZEPETO, allowing users to wardrobe their 3D avatars with exclusive products.

Even Levi’s is investing in customer-facing innovations that take hyper-locality and customisation to new heights. The brand’s new 16,902 square-foot Times Square flagship offers every Levi’s collection Levi’s plus, a selection of New York-centric merchandise and a large Authorized Vintage section. The store also features a 500-square expert tailor shop with sewing machines, direct-to-garment printing capabilities, and iPads for customers to browse designs by branded designs from tailors across the globe. This is all to reduce fitting woes, deliver customised garments, and contribute towards a more sustainable fashion industry.

What Would a World with Both Physical and Virtual Garments Look Like?

On one hand, where brands like Balenciaga and Ralph Lauren are offering both virtual clothing as well as physical garments, there are digital-only fashion houses, on the other hand, that are selling just virtual clothes. With the rise of such digital fashion houses, virtual clothes have found a place amidst the industry’s search for newness in the post-COVID world, pushing the limits for innovations, designs and experience. The Fabricant, Replicant, Carlings, and DressX among others are the ones that are early entrants in this virtual fashion space and are challenging the business model of fast fashion brands.

The Takeaway

The fashion industry has been brutal to the planet and it’s high time to bring technology as a saviour. More often than not, we keep hearing and reading that the fast fashion industry is the largest contributor to pollution and waste. The fashion industry creates 100 billion clothing items in a typical year, and three out of five items end up in waste bins and landfills within 12 months. And all these items are manufactured using 1,000 different types of chemicals, making the recycling process challenging and complex. The bottom line is that the planet is paying a high price for cheap apparel. The rise of e-commerce has made access to fashion and apparel far wider around the world. The consumption of apparel has increased enormously, and with increased consumption comes huge growth in the quantity of clothing that gets discarded.

We need something that enables fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions at different stages of the supply chain and that something is 3D Fashion. The future of fashion is very multidimensional. It is becoming more and more individualistic–it’s almost like every individual’s universe is coming into its own fashion. Fashion is becoming an expression of who they are and what they want their work to reflect. There’s no limit to what you can achieve once you apply technology and science to your craft. Are you ready to embrace 3D Fashion?

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