3D design in fashion & luxury e-commerce

3D fashion design is rapidly gaining traction in the industry and it’s paving the way for a more sustainable future of fashion. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Nike are pioneers in this field and they are experimenting with virtual runway shows and digital showrooming.

What 3D design means for the Fashion Industry

Digital Fashion: Louis Vuitton 3D Digital Garments
Digital Fashion: Louis Vuitton 3D Digital Garments

How collections were traditionally created

The traditional way of creating a fashion collection requires the researching of trends, designing creative sketches, creating patterns and manufacturing #prototypes of the final fashion product. 

The prototyping process sometimes requires more changes or redesigning if the first prototype doesn’t meet expectations.

This process in the most cases:

  • requires financial investment in the creation of garments that cannot be sold;
  • means the timeframe to complete a prototype can span over several weeks;
  • causes a certain amount of waste that impacts the environment.

The creation of a prototype is then followed by the creation of physical samples, the samples are the prototypes which are actually copies of the original prototype that are used for “selling”. For example a full set of samples is usually sent to a showroom on the other side of the world so that the agents can sell the collection to retailers. 

3D fashion design is an innovative approach that uses advanced simulation technology to design and visualise clothing garments in a three-dimensional format. This technique allows fashion designers to digitally construct and manipulate garments, enabling them to accurately assess the fit, drape, and overall visual appeal of their creations. 

The results achievable with 3D design don’t fall far from a real garment. It’s actually difficult to distinguish a real garment from a 3D one sometimes.

Martina Finotti, Marketing Manager @ z-emotion

How can 3D design improve the traditional collection creation process? And what are the benefits of 3D design?

3D fashion design is an innovative approach that uses advanced simulation technology to design and visualise clothing garments in a three-dimensional format. This technique allows fashion designers to digitally construct and manipulate garments, enabling them to accurately assess the fit, drape, and overall visual appeal of their creations. 

By simulating the physical properties of fabrics and materials, 3D fashion design offers a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to traditional and manual methods of prototyping and sampling. Moreover, it facilitates seamless (online/remote) collaboration between designers, manufacturers and retailers. This way, the entire product development and production process – from design to production and commerce, can be streamlined.

3D design is revolutionising the way fashion is conceptualised and produced. 3D fashion design is rapidly gaining traction in the industry and it’s paving the way for a more sustainable future of fashion.

The results achievable with 3D design don’t fall far from a real garment. It’s actually difficult to distinguish a real garment from a 3D one sometimes.

A 3D designer can work within the 3D software, in many different ways

  • either by generating a pattern from scratch 
  • using existing pattern blocks, 
  • importing a pattern from a 2D CAD software . 
  • A combination of the above

Once the pattern is established, it can be modified, incorporating fabrics, trims, accessories, colour, and variants to finalise the result. 

This process allows designers to freely unleash their creativity and explore various iterations of the same design. This process is cost-free when it’s done digitally, it also allows for collaboration between designers that are not physically in the same place. As an example, a designer from Indonesia could collaborate with a digital artist from Sweden working from home or from the local office. 

Currently, the fashion industry is adopting 3D design for a multitude of purposes, ranging from design to marketing. The luxury segment is experimenting with virtual fashion shows and virtual showrooms or stores, but the sector is still in the process of understanding the most effective means of adopting 3D technology and leveraging its benefits.

Watch the 3D design process at work.

How fashion e-commerce can benefit from 3D Design

Blackbriar uses 3D models as product images on their website

From an ecommerce stand-point, the 3D design impact can have several benefits on the User Experience and time to marketing. A digital supply chain – the process that aims at digitization of products to make them available to be sold online – can benefit from 3D design in multiple ways:

  • The digital patterns allow for more accurate measurements and therefore better fitting suggestions for the customers;
  • 3D images and videos are richer and more informative for the final online consumer; 
  • The images of the products are available from day one for publishing on the e-commerce websites for pre-sale and testing the demand/the feedback of the products
  • The descriptions of the products can either be automated with AI or can provide the copywriters with more details

Physical prototypes have the plus of trying out and giving the feeling of the fabric, how can 3D Design convey this sensation and play that part?

How does the 3D design behave with different fabrics? How does it convey or interpret the softness of material like silk or cashmere?

Today the technology is progressing and the most advanced fabric scanning machines on the market achieve photo-realistic level to get the best textures possible. The digital fabric twins can be easily imported into 3D cad solutions and apply to the pattern pieces.

Digital Fashion: 3D Digital Dress by Z-Emotion
Digital Fashion: 3D Digital Dress by Z-Emotion

Case studies (by z-emotion)

  • Louis Vuitton – 3d fashion design, fashion gamification, virtual catwalk, immersive experience, 
  • Covernat – virtual tryon, e-commerce, metaverse
  • Nike – virtual styling, e-commerce, 
  • Isaac Yuen – 3d fashion design, virtual catwalk
  • Ilona Song – 3d fashion design, virtual catwalk

Can 3D designs be used for B2B and B2C sales?

The final 3D asset can be adopted for both B2B and B2C purposes. For B2C, just imagine the implementation of a 3D web configurator integrated with the e-commerce web page to make the consumer enjoy the interactive shopping experience on a digital product not yet physically produced. 

What skills are required? How long does it take to learn and to implement in a company?

3D technology is a big opportunity for designers, pattern makers, cgi fashion designers who upskill their capabilities and adopt a new interesting way to work and collaborate. 3D is a game-changer and fashion brands and retailers are catching up.

Nike case study

Refining Fashion eCommerce Marketing with Interactive 3D – The Virtual Styling Campaign by Nike

Fashion brands have always been avant-garde in embracing new technologies. How do they re-shape the future of fashion e-commerce with interactive 3D?

Nike is one of the world’s first brands to introduce 3D technologies in their eCommerce business. There, the brand is constantly striving to bring inspiration to the fashion apparel industry whilst upholding its customer loyalty with innovative ideas. After the experiment of 3D printing in footwear making back in 2013, AR in sneaker-fitting on Nike’s app in 2019, this time, Nike teamed up with 3D technology provider z-emotion to offer its customers 3D shopping experiences with exclusive interactivity.

As part of Nike’s marketing strategy for its eCommerce website, online campaign Virtual Styling enables members to customize their favorite look and share them on social media. The process is simple. Once the member joins the event, they will enter a digital showroom which allows them to customize their avatar. After choosing their gender, hair style, skin color and body type, the member can then create various styles from different combinations of Nike items from top to bottom. Other than basic apparels, the member can also mix and match with different accessories such as caps, socks, eyewear and footwear. Which means, whatever categories available on Nike’s eCommerce site, whatever can be re-created in 3D and appear as virtual items in the digital showroom. This event engaged 20,000 members over a week and multiplied product exposure of selected items. By implementing 3D technology, Nike enhances digital shopping experience for its members, and successfully attracted more signups for the virtual styling experience.

3D in eCommerce helps keep people on your site longer that can actually boost sales. This is likely because 3D gives users more information and real-time experience than static images. With realistic avatars powered by Metahuman from the Unreal engine and true-to-life 3D garments generated from z-emotion’s state-of-art 3D technology, all rendered in real time, this 3D feature enables members to enjoy try-on experience as real-life shopping, and make decisions as real-life shopping.

Especially with the help of 3D experts like z-emotion which does the weightlifting of huge traffic coverage on cloud, real time 3D rendering is made more available and less demanding on the eCommerce site. According to statistics gathered from a similar event z-emotion did in 2019, potential customers who see a 3D asset rather than a flat image of a product are 44% more likely to add it to their cart, and are 30% more likely to purchase it. This figure rises to a 65% increase in conversion when the shopper can visualize and interact with a product in AR.

The true event does not end at virtual styling and its value in customization. It lies in the power of social shopping. Social shopping is a type of eCommerce that seeks to involve people with similar tastes in an online shopping experience. The online shop is no longer just a selling platform. It is an open and interactive community for users to contribute. Nike’s Virtual Style event serves this notion. After creating their own styles, the members will receive the output of their look where they can share to other channels and social media platforms while the Nike team will choose to publish the best looks every day. This form of user generated content enabled by 3D interactivity unlocks the freedom of self expression, as well as helps the brand understand its customers behavior. Not only does it align with Nike’s marketing strategy to build experiences for its customers, but it also helps the brand to re-target its customers in further activities and advertising.

With real-time 3D digital fashion solutions like z-emotion’s, brands like Nike can now interact and engage with their customers in the online space and continue to expand their territories with loyal customers spreading words for them.

Louis Vuitton case study

The impossible is possible with Fashion Gamification – The Digital Show by Louis Vuitton 

Louis Vuitton has taken an active role in leading the innovation in the luxury industry. LV has presented at Viva Tech Paris 2023 a 3D hyper-realistic versions of the products worn by #metahuman avatars.

Virtual Runway show - Louis Vuitton - 23 Vivatech

A new exciting way to discover the Fashion Show from the within

Louis Vuitton Partners with z-emotion and presents a unique Immersive Experience at Viva Technology 2023 What if you could experience a real Fashion Show from the inside ? That’s what the Digital Show Experience by Louis Vuitton is all about: a brand-new first-person experience that takes the users and consumers into a dreamlike digital reinvention of the dazzling event that took place on Jan 2023 in Paris. The visitor is invited to face the all-white arcade cabinet, grab the joystick and put the headphones on in order to embark on a unique interactive and immersive journey in order to discover a selection of products and looks from the collection in a setting reminiscent of the fashion show – seven different rooms reflecting the key stages in a young man’s life, from birth to adulthood. 

The Digital Show Experience was designed using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 by Louis Vuitton in partnership with z-emotion, Mondlicht Studios and Scan Engine.

“It enables users to discover the show from within and actually walk around the set, normally you’re just looking in from the outside,” said Carole Fuchs LVMH Director of Leather Goods and Modeling, Including Digital Design.

“Innovation creates opportunities” This might well be the unofficial motto of Nil Bouaouni, Lead 3D at Louis Vuitton who managed the Digital Show project and leveraged the power of cutting-edge technology in order to provide exceptional experiences to the clients.

Read the Louis Vuitton press release >>

About the authors

Martina Finotti, Marketing Manager at z-emotion.

Martina Finotti has almost 10 years’ experience working with leading tech fashion & apparel companies. She has been always focused on delivering the marketing strategies while building and consolidating relationships with prospects and customers. Martina lives and breathes the fast-paced world of fashion and emerging industry technology now acting as Global Marketing Manager for z-emotion. An innovative thinker, she is also responsible for moving the fashion companies in EMEA into the digital age with the implementation of z-emotion tools and applications.

Enrico Fantaguzzi, Fashion & Luxury E-commerce expert and co-founder of Digital Fashion Academy.

Enrico Fantaguzzi is a fashion & luxury e-commerce professional and consultant. He has worked for brands such as GucciTod’sWoolrich and e-tailers like Yoox.

He is co-founder of Digital Fashion Academy and EBAS E-business Association. Enrico consults for fashion and luxury brands, guiding them through the digital transformation and the expansion of their online business.

About z-emotion

z-emotion is furthering the development of the digital fashion industry with its 3D garment design tool and real-time cloth simulation technology. With its core computer graphics algorithm, z-emotion provides a one-stop solution for 3D digital fashion that contains virtual styling, digital showrooms, and digital collectibles. Headquartered in South Korea with offices in USA and Hong Kong, z-emotion is a diverse, globally talented team spread throughout Asia, the US and Europe and has investment backing from renowned strategic partners like LG Electronics, Naver, HTC and Shima Seiki. Please visit https://www.z-emotion.com for more information.

About Digital Fashion Academy

Digital Fashion Academy is an online training platform for Fashion & Luxury professionals who want to upgrade their skills with flexible training courses. DFA courses focus on relevant topics for today’s fashion market such as ecommerce, digital marketing, omnichannel, CRM and marketplaces management. DFA teachers are all fashion & luxury professionals who work for world-class brands and agencies.

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