just-style talks to Ram Sareen

Faster fashion – How Tukatech is speeding the product development process

While most brands and retailers recognise the need to shorten the development cycle and bring their products to market sooner, many are still struggling to make significant gains in speeding the process from design sketch to style approval and beyond. But it is possible to have a truly end-to-end solution in the product development process, as Ram Sareen, head coach and founder of Tukatech, explains.

“I strongly believe the pattern room is the oxygen of the garment industry. Without a pattern, we have nothing to cut, nothing to sell, nothing to show, nothing to make,” Sareen says.

However, he also laments that product development remains the biggest bottleneck when it comes to reducing time, cost and delays across the entire supply chain. And part of the problem lies with the 3D prototyping and product development technology that is supposed to offer a solution.

“Many of these software tools get no further than 3D visualisation – but after virtual design approval, you still need to have a pattern developed for production.”

In the United States, Sareen says part of the problem can be traced back to the failure of tech packs as a means of communicating between retailers/brands and their suppliers.

“The vendor who receives the tech pack...what do they do with it? They sit down and try to figure it out two, three times by making a prototype and what they feel the customer wanted from that tech pack.

“We did a survey with about 550 companies, brands and retailers in the United States, asking one question: When the designer gets the first garment based on that tech pack, and they see the garment on a body, do you ever hear the following words: ‘This is not what I wanted.’ Believe it or not, 97% of the people said yes.

“So the actual design process starts when the first garment arrives, because the designer will go and make it longer or shorter or wider or tighter. And once that goes back to the vendor with a long list, everybody's unhappy at the vendor's side because they went through extreme efforts to make exactly what the tech packs said.”

Today’s 3D technology is really just replacing that first sample: what the garment is going to look like, Sareen explains. However, this is just the initial step – and once the look is approved, the fitting process begins.

“Historically, about 20 years ago we started having the fit models replicated into dummies or mannequins at the factory level so they can actually fit the garment on the mannequin."

“But in the last 20 years, the number of iterations hasn't gone down. Two or three iterations are within the vendors’ premises when they are doing the prototype, because when you make a pattern, you don't know the integrity of the pattern. So you put it on the dummy to find out if the pattern is balanced. If there's a variation you have to do it one more time."

“Once the garment comes back to the brand or retailer, they are testing it on a person or the fit model. The only problem is the fit model is not exactly the same shape as a dummy. We've proven that thousands of times.”

3D prototyping tools are supposed to accelerate the process by speeding time, reducing cost, and enabling the entire supply chain to collaborate and communicate ideas earlier, make better decisions, and ultimately make better products.

But according to Sareen, real-time motion simulation is the only way to verify at the design level that a garment fits. “But unfortunately, the industry decided to use the same dummies and body forms in the 3D technology. And in any technology, there is only one challenge: there has to be zero tolerance between what you see versus what you get. If you have to verify with manual calculations, something is wrong.

“In order to really offer an end-to end-solution, we have got to start with two things. One is to make sure that our fit model is available to all our vendors with zero tolerance. And in order to get that, we have to get the second thing, which is what we call the live motion simulation.” Essentially, what this means is how does the garment fit when the model moves? Is it comfortable, tight or loose?

“The garment industry relies on fashion, and fashion starts with three things: a) Fit, b) Fit, c) Fit...and then look, and the trends and so on. If it doesn't fit, it doesn't sell. We can make the most beautiful looking garment, we can have phenomenal pictures and graphics on ecommerce – but the only way a credit card is coming out and the customer is going to buy is if the garment fits.

“So let's start from there. What are we doing as far as the fit is concerned? Because without that we're just doing hit and miss.”

Click on the following audio recording to hear Ram Sareen’s thoughts on how to move the fashion industry to a truly end to end solution – and why it’s important to let vendors lead when it comes to automating sample and pattern making.

Tukatech offers a range of end-to-end solutions for product development, cloud collaboration and garment manufacturing, and its technology is playing a key role in helping to transform fashion businesses all the way from design through the pattern room to the sewing floor.

In TUKA3D, the objective is to have the 3D visualisation apply to the look and the fit. Real body scan data is sculpted into animated TUKA3D models. The systems are totally open, so previous CAD pattern work easily transfers over. After simulating real pattern data from TUKAcad on this body, the model performs the same motions that she would do in a real fit session.

Several brands use TUKA3D for design and fit approvals in conjunction with TUKAcloud. This web-based digital sample room contains every file associated with the TUKA3D sample, including colourways and a web-based 3D viewer. This application allows everyone involved with product development to connect and communicate wherever they are in the world, empowering designers to focus on creativity, rather than administrative work.

Within the product development process, designers use TUKA3D Designer Edition to visualise graphics on approved 3D bodies, instead of flat graphics on a flat sketch. They see the real scale and placement, without worrying about draping a pattern.

Since 3D styles in any of these applications are based on real TUKAcad pattern data, they are ready to go to pre-production and manufacturing upon approval.

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