Sourcing giant Li & Fung’s digital incubator offshoot LFX has launched a 3D-as-a-service company to help fashion retailers transition to creating and selling products digitally.

UNIFi3D’s tech-enabled services are designed to enable brands and retailers to kickstart or accelerate their digital product creation and commerce efforts, making it possible to reduce product development time by as much as 70%, LFX says.

Idy Lee, formerly head of Li & Fung’s Digital Product Development Center of Excellence, and her team of 3D and supply chain experts have joined UNIFi3D and will partner directly with apparel brands and retailers to guide them on their first steps in 3D or scale their efforts. UNIFi3D will continue to enable Li & Fung to provide 3D services to its customers.

“The UNIFi3D team has been providing industry-leading digital product creation and commerce services for 100-plus apparel brands during the last three years as part of Li & Fung,” says Ed Lam, CEO of LFX. “As an LFX company, UNIFi3D has the most experienced 3D team providing direct services to accelerate apparel brands’ transition to creating and selling products digitally at scale.”

In addition to accelerating time-to-market, working with UNIFi3D is said to make it possible to begin sales and marketing prior to manufacturing for increased sell-through, and drive sustainability initiatives to minimise wastage by eliminating or reducing physical samples.

Digital product development has long promised faster product development cycles, faster time-to-market, and enhanced sustainability, but transitioning has been challenging for many brands, with mixed results.

“While 3D is the first step to digital transformation, it requires a technology-savvy workforce. Apparel brands, however, are built by creative, artistic people with vision – not technologists. Brands who partner with UNIFi3D benefit from our product development expertise and manufacturing know-how, while their designers continue to provide the creative vision,” says Lee, head of services at UNIFi3D.

The company also provides 3D education services to its client base, focusing on how to ensure the successful adoption of 3D. Workshops focus on helping brands avoid the common pitfalls for transitioning to digital product creation and commerce (DPCC), as well as learning the different ways 3D products can be used to identify market trends, gain greater confidence in buy-orders, and how to better coordinate between sourcing, merchandising, design, and e-commerce teams.

“Getting started with digital product creation does not have to be all or nothing,” adds Lee. “We can help set realistic expectations and help product development teams quickly adapt to working within a digital workflow environment.”

LFX launched earlier this month with a business model to provide digital solutions and services across the end-to-end consumer goods supply chain, delivering direct to brands, retailers, e-commerce companies, C2M (consumer-to-manufacturer) players, as well as manufacturers.

The company will also go beyond sourcing and cover all aspects of the value chain, encompassing trade, information, and fund flows.