Material Selection and Fashion Design: There’s Got to Be a Better Way

Written By: Blake Simms
  • 5/10/2018
PTC Retail Digital Storyboarding

Does this sound familiar? You’re searching for a certain fabric sample that you came across from a new vendor. It had a very nice feel, and you’d like to keep it in mind for next season’s lines. But where is it now? There’s a stack of swatch books on the table over there. No, that’s not it. Could it be down in the sample room? Maybe… And the search continues, until you’re interrupted by a design colleague. She’s looking for something too. Great.


For many apparel, footwear, and fashion brands, this situation is just one of many time-consuming events that can occur around material selection. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have an excellent filing system for new fabrics and an archived library of favorites, things can still get confusing when it’s time to see what materials might work best for a new style or collection. There’s got to be a better way.


Reimagine the Material Selection Process


Imagine This: Being able to search, filter, and download from an online database to reduce time spent looking for fabric samples and manually entering data. A centralized repository of up-to-the-minute data and images, reducing the need for physical samples and swatches. Decluttering your design studio and organizing fabrics more efficiently by making your material selection from a digital library.


Imagine That: A platform that lets design and product development teams pull materials specs and pictures into 3D design programs, allowing them to change materials and colorways instantly and continuously throughout the design process.Don’t like how a certain color looks on your product? See what other options look like without having to work backwards.


Imagine the Speed:A digital visualization solution thatmakes decisions about colorways, design and material easier before you create physical or virtual prototypes. A tool that lets designers and developers test designs and improve compliance before production.


Imagine the Savings: An onlinetool that’s able to populate PLM data to give development teams line-of-sight into material costs, availability, quality and compliance issues.Getting the exact specs for every item in the bill of materials instantly.


The good news is you don’t have to just imagine these outcomes. They are delivered by a digital material visualization platformMaterial Exchangea solution developed by PTC and a diverse group of partners including Decker Brands, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, and Material Exchange Ventures AB. 


Don’t tear apart your design studio searching around for that misplaced fabric sample you saved last season. With a digital material visualization platform, you can streamline your fashion and apparel material selection process and accelerate product design and development.


Learn more about the benefits and potential use cases of a digital materials library in our on-demand webinar featuring Chris Hillyer of Deckers Brands and Brion Carroll of PTC's Retail Business Unit:

Digital Material Libraries Are Solving 3 Product Development Challenges

  • Augmented Reality
  • Retail and Consumer Products
  • PLM

About the Author

Blake Simms

Blake has an extensive international career in marketing and business development within the technology, fashion, retail and consumer products industries.

With a Degree in International Marketing Management, Strategy & Communications, Blake has worked for a variety of leading global organizations and supported them in developing and delivering their strategic vision and corporate goals.

As a Marketing Director, Blake has designed, implemented and executed both international and regional go-to-market strategies, with a strong focus on increasing brand awareness and reputation, developing acquisition/lead generation initiatives and delivering powerful sales-enablement tools.