Skip to toolbar

MOTIF Learning Series tackles 3D Apparel Development Implementation Challenges

Back by popular demand, our latest virtual Learning Series did a deep dive on 3D Implementation Challenges with Idy Lee from Li & Fung, Tim Edmunds from Weave Consulting and Ewelina Barlak from EBAtelier.

Given that 3D Implementation is still posing many challenges for companies across the supply chain and we are now starting to see implementation solutions and best practices emerging, it was clear to us that we should keep this topic at the forefront when planning new MOTIF Learning Series. Our goal with these Learning Series events is to bring together small groups of people to tackle, discuss and brainstorm around much-needed industry innovation.  We ran our second Learning Series on April 8 and were honored to have three guest experts / speakers join us. Attendees hailed from across Asia and Europe and we even had a few intrepid individuals join from the US despite it being the early morning hours for them!


The event started with Tim Edmunds, Director of Supply Chain Consulting, Weave Services based in Hong Kong presenting the findings of their recent report looking at adoption of 3D across apparel and fashion. This set the stage for the ensuing breakout discussions around the stage of adoption that each attendee is at in their companies and what challenges they face. 


Look at the process, look at the people and then look at the technology.

Tim Edmunds, Director Supply Chain Services, Weave Consulting

Then Idy Li, Senior Vice President from Li & Fung and recently appointed Head of Services at UNIFi3D presented some use cases from their customer experiences. This brought on a slew of questions from attendees who enjoyed having someone with frontline experience to ask their questions to. Lastly Ewelina Barlak, Owner of EB Atelier talked about transitioning from 2D to 3D from a designers point of view. 


Going digital is a long journey, it’s not only for a sample purpose, you need to re-create, it’s a complete new way of working.

Idy Lee, SVP LI & Fung

Overall, there were great discussions in the breakout rooms and the chat box was overflowing. The first breakout session highlighted the need for the right foundations and capability building. The answer to many questions around choosing the right software, kept coming back to understanding the use cases. The second breakout session was for brainstorming possible solutions for overcoming internal challenges and external challenges. What was underscored was that it is more than having a Proof of Concept for buy-in but Proof of Value.


You have to be focused on the people that you have in your brand, invest in YOUR people. Stay with the people you already know.

Ewelina Barlak, Owner, EBAtelier

We picked out some of the questions posted in chat and have them below with answers from our visiting experts.

The Learning Series returns at the end of May bringing the topic of Sustainability back to the table with three experts presenting and discussion around raw materials strategies. See you then!

You asked, our experts answered

Q How many 3D garments can be made within a day for a fashion product like a dress, blouse?

Idy It depends on your capabilities and complexity of the garment. A normal simple fashion dress would take 3-4 hours, a blouse usually takes 2-3 hours. This does not include fabric digitisation time.

Q Where would you store data like libraries (materials, trims and so forth) and work with the data? What kind of PLM would you recommend?

Idy Usually a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system would be highly recommended to work with libraries and storage of assets. PLMs only store data and do not have a full functionality as a DAM. They are 2 different systems and have different purposes.

Q Can any of you share an example of an effective POC that helped in implementing 3D?

Idy An effective POC should be very laser focused and have key quantitative measurables. The objective should be very clear and precise to what is to be achieved out of the Proof of Concept. Keep it small and simple and ensure that the POC could be adopted back into practice.

"An effective POC should be very laser focused and have key quantitative measurables."

Tim An effective POC usually starts with a well defined scope in terms of product and use case, for example fit approval using 3D avatar for a T-shirt. As traditional companies are comfortable with the 2D process, any changes to existing processes require education, training and change management. Starting something smaller and demonstrating benefit will make it easier to transition to other product categories or use cases. 

Ewelina An After many years of experience in running the service, whether it be a manual or just 3D pattern making service, I have developed a system that works for me and my clients. When expanding the scope of my services 4 years ago, I knew that 3D was still fairly unknown on the market and, by definition, it could be scary.  I decided to keep the same scheme so that the client did not feel too much change at the beginning – 3D was used only for me when I was preparing the patterns; I was convincing my clients step by step about the effectiveness and profitability of the system. In this way, although perhaps in a little roundabout way, I gained the trust of my clients.

Q Is there any brand that started using 3D for fitting sample purposes?

Idy  There are quite numerous brands using 3D for fitting purposes already, but mainly for core/essential programs. Most brands have used 3D to reduce the amount of fitting sessions instead of eliminating fit.

Tim We have seen 2 different models – one brand’s central sourcing office replaced physical fit sample and moved fitting towards Alvanon fit model. The other model is a brand which delegated fitting to the supplier to do self approval for fitting. The driver behind this was COVID challenges last year when it was not possible for suppliers to ship physical samples for fitting.  Both have seen positive results so far!    

Ewelina Yes, one of my clients, a couture brand from New York, Les Aimants. Individual orders are realized after the customer accepts 3D rendering. Patterns are sent straight to production.

Q How do you balance the difference between 3D visuals and physical samples?

Tim This is a great question, as it raises the point why knowledge and talent is so important for the soft goods industry.  Having just a knowledge of 3D will mean that you miss elements like fit, handfeel and draping – whereas only having physical experience you may not pick up the color differences to reality by looking on a screen, or the complexity/time required to edit a design.  Balancing the difference between the two is critical and it requires a joint approach to the pilot and to 3D adoption across the business.  One successful example with a Europe-based firm is where 3D designers and designers work side by side on designs – it is almost two-way coaching between the designer and the 3D counterpart.  This has led to checklists being developed for each team member (including having little swatch patches of materials that they can touch and feel whilst looking on the screen).  It’s a learning process and will take time. Companies should consider their business priorities – speed, quality and cost in product development in order to come up with the ROI model to maximize the benefits of using 3D.

"One successful example with a Europe-based firm is where 3D designers and designers work side by side on designs - it is almost two-way coaching between the designer and the 3D counterpart.."

Tim Edmunds, Director Supply Chain Solutions, Weave Consulting Tweet

"One shouldn't forget that fashion is an art and our clients are artists."

Ewelina Barlak, Owner, EBAtelier Tweet

Ewelina I personally do not convince and pressure my clients to use 3D samples and to give up physical samples at the same time. For most of my clients, keeping physical samples in the process is an integral part of the business, especially in the early days when they are just starting their adventure in 3D. Assuring people that it works often is not enough, so creating 3D rendering and then a physical sample frequently works to the advantage of 3D, because customers later find that in many cases physical samples are not needed. In more difficult projects, if the client only chooses 3D and there are differences between 3D and physical samples, these differences are always compensated for in the final cost. Each client is different and one ought to have an individual approach to each of them, as different aspects are important for each of them. One shouldn’t forget that fashion is an art and our clients are artists.

Q Idy, for your case study, you created a 3-year roadmap, would you say that a company needs at least 3 years to integrate 3D into the product development process?

Idy  It doesn’t necessarily have to be 3 years, but we have seen many companies who are at enterprise levels take an average of 24-36 months to be able to put 3D into practice. Smaller companies seem to be able to adapt quicker and faster since they have less organizational concerns and infrastructure.

Tim Every use case requires a different approach, as does every company based on the complexity of the business and rate of change within the business.  If you are talking about transforming the business from an analog way of working, to a complete digital way of working, Weave’s industry survey with leaders who have completed this transition indicated that 3-4 years is the timeframe that is seen for positive ROI – so a timeline of 3 years aligns with this.  However, it is recommended that you select carefully which products you start with a pilot, as we have seen it developed in months, which can build momentum to scale quickly. 

Q How important are “open system’s to the success of 3D? Should this be a criteria when evaluating tools?

Idy  In my opinion, it’s not about open systems, but more on interoperability and be able to make use of the assets in numerous different ways and purposes. If you are considering to apply 3D for many different purposes and usage, I would recommend you take this as one of the criteria when evaluating tools.

Tim As before, it will be dependent on the use case and the company – how many product categories are there and what is the volume for each? To consider the applicable of tools, for example if it is PLM / PDM – it will be important for the software to be compatible with other tools to remove any obstacles in file formatting / data sharing. Adoption rate and ease of use should be considered too as we have seen a lot of companies focus on the tools itself without starting with refining the process and organization, that results in failure in driving adoption and delay / over budget of any system implementation.

Keep an eye out for our next Learning Series HERE.

How comfortable are you with the whole 3D Transformation? Don’t miss out on the key essentials covered in the MOTIF 3D Transformation course. For anyone just starting out on the journey or ready to scale.

3D Transformation: The Why, What & How

Explore the business cases behind 3D and its best practices

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin


Meet Michael Londrigan: Supply Chain Aficionado

Meet Michael Londrigan, the lead Instructor of the new “Fashion Supply Chain: Concept to Consumer” course, the second online course for professionals published by LIM College on MOTIF. Discover how seasoned industry executive Michael Londrigan caught the education bug and came to transfer his insider knowledge of the industry to a new generation of graduates and professionals.

Read More »
Sign up for updates