Although the company is still in the early stages of its digital transformation journey, 3D apparel design is certainly on the roadmap.
About the Company
Crystal International Group Limited (“CIGL”) was founded in Hong Kong and has been a leader and innovator in garment manufacturing since 1970. The company currently operates in five fashion categories: lifestyle wear, denim, intimate, sweater, sportswear, and outdoor apparel. Today, CIGL includes around 20 self-operating manufacturing facilities spanning five countries. The company’s 80,000 employees deliver over 400 million pieces of apparel each year to best-in-class apparel brands including Uniqlo, Levi’s, Gap, Old Navy, Puma, Under Armour, A&F, Kohl’s, and Target.
The Need for 3D
CIGL has always been forward-thinking when it comes to technology and sustainability, constantly looking for new and innovative ways to decrease physical sample production, cut back on costs, and reduce waste. After researching options and comparing solutions, CIGL’s subsidiary company, Crystal Denim, began working with Browzwear in 2008. Since incorporating a 3D solution into the design workflow, its influence has significantly grown within the company as it has across the industry. For CIGL, digital tools enable it to keep up with such a fast-moving industry, which is ultimately the key to success.
3D in Action
By 2017, Crystal Denim had established its own virtual design team to focus solely on becoming expert 3D designers. The proven speed to market, sustainability, and user-friendly tools ultimately reshaped its product development process. “ We were ahead of the industry by a few years in terms of leveraging 3D in a digital workflow,” said Miles Lam, Assistant General Manager for Product Development (Denim) at CIGL. “This gave us time to master the tools and get a dedicated team in place to keep up with the demand as it became more popular.”
In 2019, the denim group had converted to a complete digital workflow with 3D software tools on all co-creation projects with their customers. They also moved to full 3D for all upcoming trend collections, which will be based on a workflow completely free of physical samples. According to Lam, other teams within the company have seen the advantages of using 3D solutions for their workflows as well, “We have found the denim tools to be very user-friendly and specialized for our teams.”
With employees being at various manufacturing facilities in several countries, designers in one office can seamlessly share work and get feedback from pattern makers and graphic designers who are in another location. “Most of our customers have begun to leverage 3D for fitting, which works well in our digital workflow,” says Lam.
Despite the challenges posed by a prolonged pandemic, digital tools have enabled the company to continue producing new styles and carry out sample iterations without needing to be confined to an office setting. Therefore, by being able to rely on true-to-life 3D samples, Crystal Denim was able to remain competitive throughout times of uncertainty.
The Impact of 3D
Since the implementation of 3D workflows, Crystal Denim has enjoyed faster, flexible, and more efficient processes both from an environmental and business perspective. “Our team relies on 3D for design and enjoys the quick process of sampling and obtaining feedback digitally before producing any physical garments, ” says Lam. In fact, during the first half of 2020, the company increased its usage of digital samples by a remarkable 400% compared to the previous year. With significantly fewer sample iterations, the company has been able to speed time to market, reduce costs as well as cut down its environmental impact. By utilizing 3D samples, Crystal Denim has seen a reduction of over 75% of physical samples as well as a decrease in the associated material, energy, and water consumption which can be minimized after applying virtual sampling.
Benefits of 3D for CIGL
Faster, flexible, and more efficient processes
Reduction on environmental impact
75% reduction of physical samples
400% increase in the use of digital samples
“Our team relies on 3D for design and enjoys the quick process of sampling and obtaining feedback digitally before producing any physical garments.”