November 29, 2017

Digital Fashion?

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26.11.2017, by Bina Champaneria

Years ago, I studied fashion design and manufacturing at college, well before technology entered the fashion industry. Having worked in the industry however, I have seen how the design and manufacturing processes have been influenced by technology.

Back and forth in timeHandcrafting fashion

Starting with design, at college I learned to draw my designs for new styles on paper and used paint to make them more interesting.  This was a time-consuming process and depended on my skills to be able to draw an attractive image of the idea I had in mind, the ability to stretch the paper before painting and of course to know how to mix and use the paint.  As you can imagine, the result was not always great. All this changed with the introduction of CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems which moved the ancient art of the design and manufacturing of fashion into the digital age. By using a CAD system, it is possible to scan a piece of fabric, draw a new design of a new style and fill it in with the scanned fabric.  Instantly the style is visualised and with no tubes of paint in sight. The colours can be changed as well as features such as different collar shapes, for example. This new way of showing a new style meant that your customer has a better visualisation of the style. The CAD system also offers a 3D image of the new style thus producing a ‘virtual prototype’ that minimises the need to create a real prototype or actual sample of the design until a final version is chosen. 

The Art of Adjustment to Technology

Having designed a new style, the pattern (template) of the style had to be made and would be used to cut out the required shapes out of fabric.  The patterns are a key component for the transition from the design to the manufacturing process. There was a time when I cut out the patterns on coloured card and even used different coloured cards to represent different sizes.  The skillful part was being able to use a big pair of scissors to cut the patterns accurately and not to slice off millimeters here or there. Over time, the card patterns would get torn and had to be fixed with tape to keep them usable.  Full scale patterns of style and size posed a challenge for any company to find storage space for the card patterns, let alone trying to find the right pattern in a sea of patterns everywhere!


If you like to keep reading about how modern technology has changed the fashion industry for the global market, make sure to read the second part of Bina Champaneria’s article!

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