Grey, Green, and Golden

Future fashion professionals are closing their colourful pencil cases and reaching for their grey laptops, but why? At times the design and production process of independent designers could even be considered longer than the time they are cherished by their new owner.

This is a process often faced in the iNDiViDUALS Studio, take a glimpse through the eyes of one of Generation 31’s in-house designers, Juliette d’Hersingny...

It starts with an idea that will grow, watered by various research, this will eventually bloom in color, shape and material board. A toolbox containing the proper fabrics and trimmings is made and at this point, the pouch will be opened to search for the proper pencil to start sketching. Patterns will be sketched and eventually transformed into actual pieces, then the sampling can begin, which will have to be adjusted multiple times...”

Designing behind a screen with the help of a mouse skips a huge portion of these steps. After this, there also comes all of the logistics involved - a garment’s fabric from halfway across the world before being completed. With this, we save not only our precious time but our even more precious nature. From our perspective, this makes digital fashion a truly promising innovation.

“Designing digitally grants incredible opportunities regarding efficiency, sustainability and will shape the supply and value chains of the future.” - Jan Ophof, 3D manager.

The Grey Clock

Universally, time is a scarce element in our lives these days, therefore treasured by us. Even more so in the world of fashion design. From the physical transportation of the garment to the careful re-stitch of a seam - huge bites are taken from our ticking clock.

The development of our digital world gives us a much higher pace and capabilities compared to the same amount of time in the physical world. Garments designed digitally and presented in virtual showrooms cut the sample and production time massively. Producing a garment digitally will take approximately 28 hours, compared to the 61 hours when produced physically, according to the designers from iNDiViDUALS Generation 31(2021). This means that switching pencils for the Texture map in CLO or Sculpting tools in Blender will massively increase the number of produced garments.

As a digital garment can come to life with just the processing power of a computer and travel across seas with the click of a button, means we can work even more efficiently. Yet with this, we enter a dangerous red game. The fast travel of styles and trends is not always a good thing as it could encourage fast fashion companies to use digital fashion as another means to piggyback even more off young or independent designers as we are already seeing.

Green Nature

As we all know, increasing globalization is not nature’s best friend, nor is the intensive production of garments - it wears our green nature down. Starting from the paper on which the first sketches are born, while paper bears the marks of our mistakes a digital canvas can be readjusted a million times while remaining perfectly white. Designing and adjusting through the computer screen saves unnecessary travel and resources as the movement of both the designer and the garment is minimal. Materials and logistics that usually stretch from disconnected locations starting with prototyping to the sampling to the final design and anything in between completely vanish. Ultimately pressure is relieved from the one supplier we all rely on the most; mother earth. Balance can be found in still using nature as inspiration by admiring its beauty but applying this respectfully while leaving it peacefully intact.

However, when it comes to the designer it can be considered monotonous and potentially damaging for the mental health of designers who stay glued to their screen for hours on end. Generation 31 looked within our 3D design team to see how they personally deal with this…

“By alternating 3D designing behind my screen with some physical designing, I remain focussed and creative in both areas. I am capable of designing digitally in blocks of two hours and taking walks in between to detense. All of this requires loads and loads of coffee…..” - Sanne Dieteren, 3D designer

Golden Money

Let’s not forget to mention the shared drive we cannot avoid - money. As mentioned earlier digital design massively cuts the money spent on experimentation and creation. Many aspects of this industry don’t come cheap; from photoshoots, to contracting models, make-up artists, and finishing touches. As we have learned here in our studio this amounts to a hefty bill. Digital avatars can be captured seamlessly without spending a cent.

The accessibility provided in digital designing allows the designer to create and tweak garments without wasting a scrap of thread. Creating digitally provides the opportunity to produce multiple sizes and heights without having to waste more material for different sizes of the very same garment.

In a time where e-shopping is rapidly on the rise as people become less inclined to physically enter a store and seek instant satisfaction, accessibility has become associated with this. This leads to another way to frame digital fashion as the prevention of order and return process, which is a cause of overproduction and the destruction of garments that haven't even been worn. Saving money that is otherwise essentially poured down the drain.

However, a multiple-step production process requires many more hands than just those of a single designer controlling the mouse of the computer. Meaning that removing these steps saves money but also costs a precious price, the people who will not be needed anymore will lose their income. Making our lives easier through digital innovations takes less manpower and therefore takes away a piece of the physical world.

In the broad spectrum of things, we are very privileged to get access to this revolutionary design process. It is important to remember that not all aspiring designers can learn to sew in this way as these educational programs and lessons are pricey. Promoting digital fashion should also mean sharing this privilege.

A Sense of Relief

The grey clock is ticking, the green of nature is fading and golden money is losing its shine. Humanity is getting smarter, innovations are reaching further and the everyday tasks of physical life are made easier. Digital fashion, when used in a clever way, has the power to enhance our physical world and create a sense of relief for the sources we are over-exhausting.

Designing digitally grants incredible opportunities regarding efficiency, sustainability and will shape the supply and value chains of the future.

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