On the CADwalk, Yeah: Software for Fast Fashion
Vectors for your v-necks, algorithms for your ascot: fashion's architects are using 3D design software to bring their creations to life, and to a rack near you.
When you think of computer-aided manufacturing, sexy lingerie is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.
But since the 1990s, fashion companies, including those that make delicates, have been employing the kinds of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, or CAD/CAM, software previously reserved for architects, designers, and engineers.
While pin-bearing seamstresses and mannequins are still used for couture, the maker of clothing bought off the rack is more likely a piece of software.
The recent introductions of artificial intelligence, better animation, and lifelike avatars are helping fashion companies, faced with increasing demands, to more quickly translate 3D visions into 2D materials.
Teenagers are demanding cheap "fast fashion" to go with their fast food, and there are now six or eight fashion "seasons" put out by some clothing lines that look to bring new clothes into stores every two months, said Holly Beum, director of software product management at Gerber Technology, a subsidiary of the publicly traded Connecticut-based company Gerber Scientific.
"We even call our product life cycle management software 'fashion life cycle management' because fashion differs from every other industry, in that we'll have six seasons in a year with thousands of products," Beum said. "If you're building an airplane, you have one product that takes most of a decade (to design). How many prototypes of an airplane are you really going to make?"
So instead of East Village pixies cutting up fabric with giant scissors, that dress may have come from a cut-o-matic plugged into a laptop.