man standing in front of Boss Hugo Boss store

Digitalization has arrived in fashion, it’s safe for us to say. 3D software allows for new and more innovative ways to design clothes. This not only helps save money but also speeds up the time it takes to get products onto store shelves. Hugo Bosss is not new to this technology-savvy design approach. The German fashion brand has already developed 40% of its collections using 3D software.

The German Fashion Institute (DMI), November conference, brought together experts from the fashion industry to discuss digitization of the fashion supply chain. This is a much slower process than the automotive industry. Fashion companies still receive colour samples from suppliers, and prototypes are still made manually instead of digitally. Hugo Boss is making a change.

man standing in front of Boss Hugo Boss store

“Just switching to 3D is not enough to keep up with the times.” During her presentation, Birgit Wiech, Senior Head of Product Excellence Woman at Hugo Boss, stated that product development must change completely. “We are currently in a huge upheaval and we must bank on speed. Our goal is to digitize the entire process down to the store.”

Accelerating the entire process from initial idea to final product

Hugo Boss began to explore new ways of developing products in 2013. In 2013, Hugo Boss digitally simulated simple garments like shirts, jerseys and knitwear. What is the benefit of 3D modeling on screens instead of physical samples? Only the outer fabric patterns can be used to create 3D models. This allows designers to experiment with different fabrics, colours, and prints without having to make a full physical sample. It takes just a few clicks to alter the look of a design.

Hugo Boss’ 3D software has been used to simulate outerwear and sportswear since 2015. More recently, 2017 saw the introduction of classic lines for men’s and ladies’ outerwear. Hugo Boss now uses 3D technology to produce 40% of its collections after more than 1000 3D simulations. For example, in Germany and Turkey, the first product samples are sewn using digital prototypes as reference. Manufacturers in Eastern Europe, Portugal, and other countries are also doing the same.

The design process is simplified by removing the need to create samples. This saves time and money. Wiech states that while a physical prototype can take up to four weeks to create a piece, it takes just a few days or a week to develop a piece of clothing using a digital version. Due to the current shortage of clothing, consumers are increasingly focusing on fast fashion and shifting trends. Therefore, it is important that production times are quick in order to keep up with demand.

Design process: Emerging and changing occupations

We are seeing a wave of digital transformation that is closely accompanied by new occupations. It takes close collaboration between designers and cut-makers to develop apparel using 3D simulation software. Wiech says that designers and manufacturers need to work together.

She says, “All things considered, another job profile will undoubtedly emerge in the long-term.” She is however keeping her department open to all possibilities. “We are just moving with agile, cross-functional groups and then we will see which jobs will arise.”

person using Macbook

According to Widmann, the software can’t simulate different washes correctly, as seen in denim jackets. Hugo Boss’ has made great strides since those six hours spent by her team on creating a red pleated gown. Pieces for women’s outerwear were created and sold digitally by Hugo Boss. This fashion company from Germany has come a long way compared to other companies in the sector. Andreas Seidl (managing director of the Human Solutions Group / Assyst), estimates that 20% of customers use 3D technology to design their products. Hugo Boss also uses its software. It was only 5 percent two years ago.

The possibilities of three-dimensional simulation go even further. Birgit Wiech has a vision to digitize everything, from the first sketch to the online shop. She says customers should be able to see how pants will look on them before they shop on their smartphones. “We want the whole digital process to be seamless in the future.”