Challenges to be Aware of in 3D Fashion Design.

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

The future of fashion has a deep relationship with technology. Mostly within 3D & 4D tools. The tools certainly help define the overall design of a product, as well as aid in the expediting of garment production. However it does require the designer truly understands the human form, manual patterns, grading, and sewing technique or construction process. It is a fusion of the old and the new. Below are key points about what you need to know when starting to use 3D design.


1. What product categories work best and why?

Working with 3D bodies and various platforms in fashion design have led me to a greater understanding of 3D limitations and possibilities. I have found that 3D design still has struggles in dealing with breast area for the female body. This is because scanners have a very hard time picking up the nipple point. An important measurement as it relates to various other measurements. If this area is not measured correctly, the top may have an improper fit. Bra cups are near impossible to make designs for as the breast scans are still very inaccurate.(Image 1.1- B) The book "Innovation and Technology of Womens Intimate Apparel" addresses some of these aspects. Any company stating this fact maybe still using general breast size data. The other consideration is plus size bodies that have any overlap of skin in the measure area. A scanner will feed a skin fold or the breast over hang into another measurement. For example. the across shoulder back has excess skin. This skin can blend into the across back measurement and the machine may see the fold as a armpit area, decreasing or increasing the size of the actual measure. This impacts the armscye , chest, and side seam measure. (Image 1.1- A,B, C) So its important to check the scan measure to the actual body measurements to ensure proper fit is made. The male plus size is easier as the breast tissue, and hip zone do not present as much of a fit challenge. Basically less points of reference. The studies done by Manchester University result in the same findings. Majority of UX professors that also teach 2d design have found the checks and balances must be made to patterns and prototypes, just like the 2d process. Link to findings. Click here!



Image 1.1 A,B,C

2. How to ensure the right fit is defined?


I have found that not all form avatars in programs may meet the target market of a company. For example does the product fit tall & skinny, plus, petite, curvy, or etc?

Knowing the manual processes will greatly impact how well you can see this as a needed factor. I have found that its a absolutely to have these avatar forms defined to ensure the process has the best outcome. The following is my process...

Step 1.

I measure my fit model and essentially build her out in DAZ3D, Marvelous Designer, or Make Human. These programs are free, but you can also use other platforms for your rigging. I still need a brand fit model to ensure the prototypes work on the consumer target market.

Step 2.

Make the form avatar to match correct height, weight, shape, and etc. Secondly, I will transfer the avatar file into to design platform like CLO3D or Browzewear and set up fit points. I double-check the measurements converted over by using the body measure tool, this is done for each size to accommodate breast fit issues. I may have 10 avatars to fit against. It is a lot of work at first, but will allow for better processes to be made that will impact production. This is especially needed for breast fit needs, as the breasts on 3D programs don’t shift properly.

The second benefit to the longer process is check grading for fit. The nice thing about some platforms is that they have worked with Alvanon forms to create standardized forms for fitting. These are based on the ASTM D5585-11, or etc. This form ensures have anthropomorphic data to support fits found most used throughout the world.


3. How 3D can impact workflow.

I wouldn’t recommend 3D design to a beginner in fashion. The programs still require a great deal of 2D knowledge. If anything I would advise the students really become skilled within 2D as the knowledge is needed to trouble shoot the 3d process. The other need is the skill & knowledge for sewing and assembly as you actually perform the steps in your build process for the 3D design. The image below will show how stitching works. (Image 3.1)

The other aspect is having a strong understanding of textiles or trims to ensure weight, measure, and etc are configured for accurate rendering.


Image 3.1 Seams

Pattern Placement & Style-lines

Image 3-2. Pattern Making and placement of style lines

Pattern Sewing


Pattern Sewing

4. Knowing the market of use.

Now that there is some idea of the challenges that exist, your company maybe able to define what is needed for the supply chain, and also impact to consumer fit. The list below is a good way to consider the investment.


Areas that work with 3-D platforms

1. Size ranges for women 0-14

2. Size ranges for men 28- 40 or XS-XXL

3. Children’s

4. Athletic in regards to shirts, sports bra and etc.

5. Knit T-shirts, basics, and suiting.


Areas that represent some challenges

1. Plus sizes

2. Lingerie-bra's or bustiers

3. Evening gowns with breast supports

4. Swim using underwire bra like construction.

5. Infant


The future is coming and it will require the use of 3-D & 4-D platforms. It will be important to take the time to learn as much as you can about the process. Currently I am still learning new tricks within all the platforms.



Good Luck!