Indie Spotlight:
Stefka de Ruiter Rethinking Couture with 3D

It’s inspiring to see more and more talented individuals embrace 3D as they gear up for fashion’s next chapter, in a post-pandemic environment. After chatting with the talented Stefka de Ruiter, Browzwear Indie Program member, and Couture specialist, it was inspiring to see how 3D has led her to where she is today. 

Growing up in a small town in Bulgaria, Stefka sparked an interest in fashion from a very young age and was mesmerized by all of the intricate details of which handmade, custom clothing entailed, typically reflected in  European apparel. She would frequently accompany her mother to dress fittings where she would closely observe the process, seeing how each piece of fabric came together to achieve such beautiful pieces. At the age of 17, Stefka and her family moved to the United States where she began to embark on her fashion design journey. She arrived in the states with a clear goal, once she had learned the language she would make it her mission to gain all of the skills needed to study at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Through a combination of fashion education and hands-on experience, Stefka was able to delve into all facets of fashion design from sewing and pattern making, to CAD and tailoring. Whilst exploring the industry in New York, she became increasingly passionate about luxury wear and couture after interning for the infamous fashion house, Oscar de la Renta in her final year “Having the opportunity to work in luxury apparel gave me firsthand experience in tailoring with some of the most experienced individuals in the industry, I was also able to understand the needs of each customer”. After interning at several luxury fashion brands, Stefka began to think about how the experimental stage of the design process could be revamped. With a faster and more efficient design phase, the opportunity for creativity would ultimately be limitless.  

In 2015, the time had come and Stefka began her studies at FIT, where she pursued a major in Fashion Design. 3D first caught her eye in 2017 after being introduced to FIT’s innovation center DTech Lab, and Stefka became increasingly interested in the combination of fashion design and technology. “I saw huge potential for technology within the world of fashion, and I wanted to see if I could come up with something different,” Says Stefka. During her time at the DTech Lab, she worked on the IBM and Tommy Hilfiger collaborative project which explored how artificial intelligence could enhance the design cycle all the way through to marketing. In fact, this was the first time that Stefka saw her sketches come to life as 3D garments with VStitcher.  

When the pandemic hit back in March, the DTech team noticed Stefka’s forward-thinking approach and encouraged her to take Browzwear’s VStitcher Certificate Program. This would enable her to learn all of the foundational skills of 3D design that would ultimately reshape her entity design methodology from this point onwards. “When I began working with VStitcher, I was able to pick up all of the knowledge and skills that were needed in order to create a 3D garment and could relate it to how I would have designed the garment physically. Using Browzwear’s technology, I am in full control of how my garments are evolving and how advanced I want to make the pattern, without being limited to physical resources, space, or cost. I have the freedom to express my creativity all in one place,” says Stefka. Once she had completed her studies at FIT in 2019, Stefka has continued to perfect her skills in 3D, making it her mission to ensure that she carries it into her future as a designer and expand its influence within the industry. “It’s a new and exploratory field, and there are risks involved, but in the end, you can only win from it,” says Stefka. 

After spending some time working on 3D freelancing projects, Stefka recently took on a role at Calvin Klein as a 3D designer. During her day-to-day, she uses 3D predominantly for style reviews as it enables her to see exactly how each piece fits and drapes over the body. This allows her to easily identify any fabric, trim, or fit imperfections that need to be resolved before the piece is physically produced. “My time working at Calvin Klien has allowed me to see the collaborative side of 3D and how working with digital prototypes drives fast and efficient collaboration between departments,” says Stefka. 

Stefka’s work for Goldatech

For Stefka, the future of fashion is without a doubt 3D, and she hopes to pursue her skills to bring 3D into the world of luxury apparel and couture, “3D and couture is a powerful combination, giving designers new possibilities to enrich their design experience. It gives designers the ability to design multiple pieces with a great level of detail and complexity allowing them to curate their favored choice. I’m really excited to see more people start to use 3D within the luxury side of fashion. It’s a revolutionary approach to workflow. This is currently my concept and how my transition is from Couture to 3D“

Check out more of Stefka’s designs here : 


Instagram: @stefkaderuiter

If you are an independent designer looking to enter the world of 3D, apply for Browzwear’s Indie Program