Exclusive: Tommy Hilfiger parent opens 3D platform to outside brands

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Today, fashion conglomerate PVH is making its 3D design startup Stitch 3D available to outside brands. The technology, previously only available to PVH-owned brands including Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, offers tools that help brands scale 3D design capabilities.

The tools, starting in beta, will be sold to external brands looking to invest in 3D design. They include the Stitch Hub software, which is an automatic rendering service that houses digital asset libraries (for fabrics, trims and completed designs) and enables teams to design, present and review collections in a visually compelling environment. It also includes access to the Stitch 3D Academy, a set of online courses that were developed internally in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and designed to help product creation teams learn about producing and using digital designs.

At PVH, which acts as a strategic investor in Stitch 3D while the startup operates separately from the company, the goal is to convert Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein to 100 per cent digital design by 2022. Already, for the Tommy Hilfiger brand, about 80 per cent of the product groups are designed in 3D, according to the company, with all designers for both brands in Europe trained in 3D. Digital reviews have decreased the collection development process by two weeks, with an aim to reduce the calendar even more, says Anne-Christine Polet, head of Stitch. Additionally, 20 per cent of the digital showroom assets for both Tommy and Calvin Klein are now 3D images, and up to 10 per cent of the images seen on Tommy Hilfiger e-commerce pages are now 3D assets.

That a fashion conglomerate would share its 3D design capabilities — especially with potential competitors — is unique.

“With the problems the industry is facing, we need to break down silos,” Polet says. “If you look at industries that have advanced technologically much faster than fashion, some of the underlying accelerators have been technology, standardisation and, to some extent, data accessibility.” The goal of Stitch, Polet says, is to offer something that can be unique in the way that brands implement it while still facilitating digitisation. “It’s something that you need to do industry-wide, because the more brands jump on the bandwagon, the faster you can drive change.”

Digital design can decrease the resources required to develop collections and enable immediate showrooming or sales on e-commerce pages. However, decreasing cost, time and natural resources is “just the baseline”, Polet says. Other use-cases include portraying how products will look on a display wall, or virtually merchandising a retailer’s full buy, with the ability to swipe between months or product drops to see how merchandise changes. There are also consumer-facing applications, such as augmented reality try-on, or in-game apparel. “Younger generations are living a lot of their lives online and want to have a digital identity,” Polet says.

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