This NYC Startup Is Giving Fashion Design a 3D Makeover



You know the expression: Rome wasn’t built in a day. But thanks to CLO3D Virtual Fashion (CLO3D), even a high-end fashion pattern can be rendered in about an hour.

Amazing, considering that before CLO Virtual Fashion, it took weeks – and still does, for the uninitiated.

CLO3D enables the instant creation, editing, and inputting of accurate measurement directly inside the program, making the average garment creation time a mere 35 minutes and an average lead time of 72 hours for a physical sample. Thanks to the software’s output, CLO3D offers 23 different, realistic fabrics options (including leather) and even allows designers to customize their own fabrics. It even displays a garment’s layering effect – the biggest component missing from virtual garments, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Designers can also see design modifications happen in real-time as adjustments are made to the pattern. Make informed decisions on the spot, from the overall silhouette down to the scale and placement of each pocket.

Business Development VP Deborah Park goes into the details…

Tell us about the product.

CLO Virtual Fashion is a fashion design software company specializing in ‘true-to-life’ 3D garment simulation. Our sophisticated algorithm simulates the physical properties of woven fabrics (as well as leathers), enabling users to visualize design, material, color, and graphic variations and modifications in real-time.

We have two different solutions for two very different industries: CLO3D for the fashion and apparel industry, and Marvelous Designer for the computer graphics, gaming, and animation industries. But we’ll talk only about CLO3D here.

What differentiates it from your competitors?

There are other great 3D tools out there but most are used for solid objects, such as Modo and Maya. We deal with delicate fabrics and the whole architecture of garment-making, and there are only a few players who provide such simulation technology.

The core competency of CLO3D over other solutions is in its stability and speed of simulation, which directly translates to the ability to make diverse garments efficiently and intuitively. We believe the time taken to create a 3D garment should always be much faster and more convenient than the analogue process.

One of our biggest strengths is an intuitive user-interface, and we really believe this is the result of the healthy work-dynamic between our design and development teams – we actually have a strict company policy of maintaining a 1:1 ratio between employees that are fashion designers and those that are computer engineers.

In addition, we are the only company that provides technology for vertical integration. Our C-Mirror and CLO Show Player are just some examples of how the 3D output from CLO3D can be maximized beyond the design development phase.

What business of technical problem are you solving?

The Problem (and here’s the long answer, as many outsiders are unaware of these very specific pain points):

The fashion and apparel industry is a very traditional one, and most brands still follow a conservative design development process: a designer sketches (in some cases, still with pencil), then a technical package (specifications on the details / construction of the garment) is put together and sent to factories, who then create a pattern (in some cases, still by hand) and make the physical sample. The completed sample is sent back to the designer to review, after which the designer makes comments on any changes that need to be made to the garment. These changes can be as simple as changing the size of the button or as involved as changing the entire silhouette. The factory implements the changes – changing the pattern if needed – and creates a whole new sample to send back to the designer. This is repeated until the creative vision is realized, but due to tight production calendars, some styles go through revisions through and after Market, sometimes up to the final production round (the lot that gets delivered to retailers). It is a repetitive, iterative, and costly process, with lead times for a single sample round averaging anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, if you are working with factories overseas.

Unlike other design industries (think architecture or automobile), it’s a workflow that leaps from sketch to 1:1 physical product, with little or no visual checkpoints in-between. We know that 3D samples can never and should never take the place of physical samples, especially as the “look and feel” is essential to this industry, but we believe that they can become effective bridges between each creative stage. This is where CLO3D comes in.

The Solution:

CLO3D allows users to visualize 3D garments from the 2D patterns that would be used to make the physical sample. On average, it takes about 1 hour and 6 minutes to create a 3D garment (tested across all product categories), and the output is more than 95% close to the real garment.

It’s a new tool that allows designers and pattern makers to communicate three-dimensionally – with scale and precision. But more importantly, it comes with the efficiency and flexibility for all teams to work more creatively.

Time is money. This is especially apparent with growing consumption and diversifying consumer tastes. Brands are adding seasons and SKUs to chase these ever-changing trends, but fail to adapt smarter practices that can handle the faster pace. CLO3D is about these smarter practices.

One of our clients mentions, “we used to create 200 styles per season 4-5 years ago. Now we are making 900 styles per season with the same number of designers and patternmakers.” CLO3D helped them achieve such efficiency with a new 3D process, whilst still maintaining their culture.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

The global apparel market. It is an ever-growing industry, with more than 150,000 players in a 578 B market.

What facet of the enterprise market are you selling to?

We focus on the design development phase, and so our primary users are designers, product developers, pattern makers, and manufacturers within enterprise companies. However, once the 3D data is created, it can easily be utilized by other departments, such as merchandising, production, e-commerce, retail – even the consumer. In the long term, we believe our technology can help connect and enhance every stage of a product’s lifecycle.

What is the business model?

Software license sales, enterprise-wide adoption.

Can your product guarantee the perfect fit?

Every company has a very different process and culture. We are very careful to respect this when implementing a 3D process, and work closely with our clients to make sure we create an ecosystem that not only works, but fits.

Tell us about your experience as a Work-Bench company.

Work-Bench has been instrumental in helping us secure key enterprise contacts within the fashion and apparel industry. The various workshops and meet-ups hosted by Work-Bench have helped each of our team members grow within their respective roles and learn from an extended network of enterprise start-ups.

We are very fortunate to foster innovation and growth in a beautiful, well-designed space (the most generous and professional of all shared work-spaces we’ve seen) with an abundance of resources essential to enterprise sales and a community of passionate member companies.

What are your thoughts on the future of the enterprise space, and specifically, the fashion/tech space?

It is truly an exciting time to be in fashion tech, as there is a lot of interest and innovation happening all over the world. That said, there is a high concentration of solutions targeting e-commerce, marketing, social media, etc. While we know these are essential tools for this day and age in order to reach the consumer and sell more product, we also believe that in order to sell more, you have to start with a great product. With CLO3D, we are trying to bring the focus back to the actual product – bringing innovation to the very beginning of the product’s lifecycle.

What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within 6 months?

We are relatively new to the US market, as we have been focused primarily on the European and Asian markets for the past two years; we are excited to demonstrate what our technology can do for the industry anchors here in North America.

With global demand increasing, we have opened another office in Shanghai this year. We also have some exciting projects in the pipeline – ones that we think are worthy of the term ‘disruptive.’

If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?

Not one in particular, but we would like to meet an investor who understands our vision and philosophy, as well as the apparel industry and its complexities.

modelist screen shot

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