What are you looking for?

Fabric Digitization Revolutionizes Garment Design

Consumer CompactSoftlinesMarch 28, 2023

Technological advances have always driven change in the fashion industry. As we move into the digital age, how is digitalization changing the way designers work?

Towards the digital paradigm

Technology has fundamentally altered the way we view fashion. What was essentially a cottage industry started to change in 1764 with James Hargreaves’ invention of the spinning jenny to improve yarn production. This was followed by various weaving and knitting machinery advancements and, in 1856, William Perkin’s successful discovery of the first synthetic dye. Each development improved production and added value to finished textile fabrics, allowing fashion to become popular and essential in our modern consumer world.

However, in spite of all these advancements, the process of designing and prototyping clothes has remained costly and time consuming.

Where now for fashion?

Sustainability is a major concern in all industries, including fashion. Designers and manufacturers are looking for innovative solutions that allow the delivery of products that consumers want but with a reduced impact on the environment.

In a post-pandemic world, the process of designing new garments has not always kept pace with the shifting demands of a global market. Designers, buyers, and manufacturers need to work collaboratively, but may live and operate in different countries. This has always slowed down the process of design and delivery but with sustainability now a central concern, it has become untenable.

The fashion industry needs a more efficient way to design and prototype garments. The solution must reduce cost, be effective at enabling remote collaboration on a global scale and be of true value, fast, accurate and sustainable.

Digitalization in the fashion industry

Digitalization is the new technological paradigm. Industries working with rigid materials, such as metal and plastic, have been using simulation programs to enhance the design process for several years. However, it was only around 2020 that advances in computer simulation power began to make it possible for simulation software programs to render non-rigid materials like leather and cloth.

This has opened up a world of possibilities for the fashion industry. Designers, manufacturers, and buyers can now work virtually, collaborating without the need for travel. It reduces disruption, cost, and environmental impact, while also expediting the process of designing and delivering more efficient and sustainable products.

Fabric digitization

Fabric digitization eliminates the need for physical samples by allowing the creation of true-to-life 3D simulations of a textile or leather object. These high definition ‘digital twins’ exactly mirror the physical sample, including appearance, textures, draping behaviors and physical properties. They accurately describe the physical sample in a digital way that can be shared through the cloud with stakeholders working around the world.

Digital fabric samples have multiple advantages. By removing the need to manufacture and share physical samples, the process of designing, prototyping and approving products is cheaper, faster, and more sustainable. Stakeholders can review, comment and feedback instantly and in parallel, re-adjust designs and reach agreement far quicker than traditional methods.

Fabric digitization software using a digital twin also allows interested parties to see how a garment will actually fit on various avatars engaged in different activities, creating a virtual fashion show and allowing accurate representations of tension and pressure feel. Designers can also build a digital library of fabric, thereby enhancing all future design projects and improving market outcomes.

SGS solution

SGS’s Softlines Digital Laboratory has developed services to streamline and expedite the textile design process. Our one-stop solution comprises:

  • Fabric scanning: 3D fabric scanning captures various appearance and texture aspects of the textile material, including color or print pattern, transparency, roughness, displacement, etc.
  • Fabric physics: determines the essential physical properties of the textile material for the physical base rendering, including weight, thickness, bending and elongation

A digital fabric file with common formats, such as u3ma, etc. is then created and contains all the essential texture maps and physical properties data needed for common 3D digitalized platforms. Special formatted CVS files for fabric physics are also available for several common software programs, such as Browzwear, CLO 3D and Gerber, which  can directly transfer physical properties data to the program.

Files can easily be shared with participating stakeholders via our cloud-based platform.

Benefits of SGS fabric digitization:

  • Quicker design process
  • Substantiable design process
  • Reduces cost and environmental impact from elimination of actual prototype sample
  • Enables client to build their own textile material library for future applications
  • Compatible CSV file format for direct transfer of physical properties data to several popular simulation programs

Learn more about SGS Softlines Services.

Enjoyed this article?

Find more news and updates in our Consumer Compact newsletter > 

Delivered direct to your inbox

Subscribe to Consumer Compact >

© SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA.

Related Links

For further information, please contact:

Ruth Hon

Ruth Hon

Deputy Director, Global Softlines Technical Services and Harmonization
SGS Connectivity & Products, Softlines

Get insights on international developments, new regulations, case studies and updates on SGS activities.

Follow us now on LinkedIn

News & Insights

  • SGS Headquarters

1 Place des Alpes,

P.O. Box 2152, 1211,

Geneva, Switzerland