Fashion Design Adapts To Sustainability

February 15, 2023
Suna Hasan

The 1980s was a period of change in the United Kingdom. The country was experiencing a convergence of emerging technologies, new musical trends, and movements in pop culture that started to change fashion. My first exposure to CAD was when I was doing an internship with Jeff Banks of Warehouse in the early 1980s; I was blown away to see a laser cutting machine installed at the premises. The laser cuts the pattern through layers of fabrics with precision, sealing edges to prevent fraying. This delivers quality in a much more sustainable way.  

Starting my first job as a junior designer in London was exciting! Everything we worked on was created by hand using traditional methods. The inspiration for the collections came from many sources and was gathered from various places such as traveling to trade shows, going to galleries and museums. Creating a collection has many aspects, including choosing the theme, fabrics, colors, and prints for the season, so finding inspiration in the vibrant London life around me was always an experience in itself.  

Flat sketches and colorways were meticulously drawn by hand using a rotary pen, then colored with Pantone markers. Carefully cut out a surgical knife, sprayed glued onto foam boards for presentations to buyers. This would go through several iterations. Once all finalized by buyers or teams, the arduous tasks followed of creating the samples.  

fashion designer moodboard

The designer would create tech packs with all colors, artworks, and fabrics sent to various factories at home or abroad for sampling. Numerous lab dips and strike-offs would be sent back to the designer, who checked and commented that all changes were to be implemented. So, the cycle continues until final approval.  

This lengthy process would take at least six months before. Today we see the growth of fast, disposable fashion, which would start shrinking timelines for the fashion industry.  

Unsustainable fashion industry
Image : Think Sustainability

This uneconomical, unsustainable, highly toxic way of working was an everyday occurrence until I moved to California. I started seeing CAD in designing clothing in the early 1990s.

By 1993, I was heading a team that created kids' clothing using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to develop prints & graphics and colorways for complete ranges; as technology advanced throughout the 1990s, many designers started to modify their work methods, including myself.  

I remember working in New York in 1997 for Phillip Van Heusen creating men's knit ranges for golf lines and knits collections. I would commission original artwork in multiple colorways, which were intricately hand-painted. Once the artwork was approved, it was sent to mills in Mexico and Hong Kong, where lab dips and knit downs were created. The introduction of CAD software made it possible to create complex artworks in days instead of weeks.

In 2000, I returned to the United Kingdom after a decade away. I landed a job as a senior lecturer in fashion. As a part of one of my modules, I introduced CAD in their course work; students learned to design portfolios on the computer- Many went on to make their mark with reputed firms globally due to this.

The designer work has seen a jump in production over the last few years as the technology required to produce such work has advanced. Furthermore, since we've seen our lives through tremendous changes since Covid on a global level, connectedness and technology have made the technology we use even more inter-connected and more accessible for us to use.

Over 4 decades of experience in fashion and some knowledge of technology I sought for a tool that incorporates artificial intelligence to simplify how we design, and that's how Design Studio was born. With the Design Studio, you can upload your design files, add silhouettes, color, prints & graphics or use our pre-existing libraries to create an unlimited number of realistic, high-quality 3d models with just one click. From creating multiple options and colorways of a single garment to adding backgrounds for photoshoots or create look books in minutes. It is easy to share with your clients and teams, transforming your workflow into a sustainable, collaborative one.

Old versus new design process
Old versus New Design

The entire design process that used to take months has been reduced to minutes, saving time, money, energy, and the environment. This makes The Design Studio on track to become a must-have for designers, students, and the curious who are looking to dabble in design.

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