A Virtual World-Based PLM for the Fashion Industry (Updated}

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by: C. Sven Johnson

Now this is interesting. From the SLNN site (Link):

The Fashion Research Institute (FRI) in conjunction
with IBM is developing a product lifecycle management solution for the
fashion industry that specifically addresses the industry’s unique
needs, cutting time to market. Designers will be able to access 3-D
tools from within SL or Open Sim to create their fashion product. The
3-D models of the design can be shown in a virtual showroom. Everyone
who has a share in the product will be available to review the design:
product managers, designers, design directors, merchandizers, costers,
executives, sales staff and show room managers. After the creative
vision has been finalized, factory specifications are created that will
enable the item to be manufactured in real life.

As it turns out, I knew a fashion designer working in NYC, and at
one point did some research on the software tools used in that
industry. What I learned is what the piece claims is still true: 2D
artwork – especially work done in Adobe Illustrator – rules. Not a big
surprise to me since I’ve done some “soft goods” design, but still a
disappointment. What is a surprise to me is what’s said near the end of
this piece:

Dr. Mike Pitman (Rez Tone in SL) is IBM’s Principle
Investigator on the research collaboration between FRI and IBM. “We
began with a research collaboration to study ways of applying virtual
worlds to the product design process in her industry. As it turns out,
virtual worlds, when applied correctly, can yield huge cuts in costs
and design cycle time for big business.”
The 3D models allow factory specs to be generated automatically, minimizing errors.

I’m interested in how IBM is going to do this. Perhaps I can get Dr. Pitman to explain what they’re doing.

{Update: Via Raph Koster’s blog I read a nice complementary article over on C|Net, “CAD software is the new black” (Link).
Some of the company/software names sound familiar, and I suspect these
are the same fashion software providers I found during my own research
a few years ago.

I’d hoped they’d moved more quickly into 3D,
but from a quick check I don’t believe they have. Apparently they’re
still mostly just 2D pattern printing applications and logistical PLM
solutions without any real 3D component linked back to the actual

FashionCAD and PatternMaker are still 2D pattern applications. SnapFashun
isn’t the name I recall, but the way it works using a 2D mix-n-match
catalog similar to many 2D virtual world/videogame avatar-building
interfaces is very familiar. Probably just a new name for what I’d
previously found.

I had hopes that Lectra’s Kaledo 3D Trend
application would be, y’know, fully three-dimensional. Instead, it
seems pretty basic and, from what I can tell on their website, doesn’t
use 3D avatars but rather 2D images placed in a 3D scene. That was
disappointing. Furthermore, their other offerings don’t appear to
incorporate a 3D avatar/design either. If something they offer does,
someone please tell me. I’m just doing cursory reviews of these

Finally, my memory is failing me here but I want to
say that there were only two applications using 3D models when I did my
research. One was using Maya’s relatively new cloth option and selling
a plug-in. That might have been DressingSim from Digital Fashion,ltd. but I don’t recall it being Japanese.

pretty sure the other was V-Stitcher or an early incarnation of it
since I recall the AccuMark name. That makes sense to me considering
it’s by far the most impressive application available. You can see it
in action on the Browzwear website promo (Link). Definitely worth your time since the link to a virtual world seems to be the only thing missing in their solution.

Now go read the previous portion of this post again and see how this fits together.}

{Update 2: Just saw that C|Net has an accompanying gallery of images with some additional info (Link). Apparently Lectra does offer a nearly full 3D solution, from what’s shown.}

Original Post: http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1411