3D Design Elevated By Cotton


Technology is a constant in every industry, but when it comes to textiles and fashion – innovation is a necessity today more than ever. 3D simulation technology entered the textile industry with the promise of streamlining the supply chain from design to development. As brands and designers looked for ways to improve efficiency, create less waste, and reduce their reliance on physical samples, the transition to a digital supply chain seemed like a viable, long-term solution.

Fast forward to the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain challenges facing textile manufacturers today, and you have the perfect impetus for far more rapid change than many expected. Today, you’ll find some of the world’s largest brands ramping up their reliance on 3D technology using digital samples and renderings – resulting in faster decision-making and greater efficiency. While the digital fashion world remains uncharted territory for many, industry innovators like Cotton Incorporated continue to pave the way for new opportunities for supply chain growth into the digital era.

Image by CottonWorks™

Cotton Goes Digital

While the ‘feel of cotton’ has been a longtime mantra in the textile industry, we know that today’s designers, brands, and consumers alike already love cotton for its comfort, durability, and performance. Cotton Incorporated continues to innovate to promote sustainability and efficiency in textiles and fashion.

In the pursuit of product innovation and business ideas to advance the use and profitability of cotton among textile companies, Cotton Incorporated has been leading the way for the fashion industry’s digital transformation for years. The FABRICAST™ library offers a variety of inspirational cotton and cotton-rich fabrics that incorporate new yarns, interesting woven or knit fabric structures, unique dyeing and finishing techniques, as well as fabric performance technologies to inspire and demonstrate the many possibilities you’ll find with cotton.

In August 2020, Cotton Incorporated made an even bolder move into the material space by becoming the first fiber to enter the 3D space with digital-ready materials by launching CLO and Browzwear compatible files through CottonWorks™, the company’s online tool for textile professionals and students. This milestone leap is making it easy for designers to use cotton fabrics in 3D programs with fabrics that behave just as a physical sample would.

Image by CottonWorks™

“The fashion industry’s shift to a digital supply chain relies on accuracy – and having a virtual sample that corresponds to real fabric in form, fit, color, and function is critical to supporting brands through this transition,” explains Katherine Absher, Manager of Fashion and Digital Design Marketing, Cotton Incorporated.

Pioneers in Sustainable Practices

As a natural fiber, cotton is the perfect pioneer in the shift to a digital supply chain. Over the last 35 years, U.S. cotton producers, researchers, and industry organizations have been committed to implementing innovative technologies, management systems, and conservation practices.

From the implementation of sustainable growing and processing practices to the development of numerous performance technologies that advance cotton innovation and marketability, the cotton industry has served as a leader in the sustainability and circularity movement for decades.  As a natural fiber from the earth, when cotton reaches the end of its life cycle, it can degrade in a variety of environments. Taking it a step further, Cotton Incorporated continues to identify and promote practices that reduce water, energy, and chemical (WEC) use in the global textile industry through partnership with a worldwide network of universities, textile manufacturers, and equipment and chemical suppliers.

Today’s transition into the world of 3D simulation is the next logical step in this journey by reducing the need for physical samples and accelerating the overall design and decision-making process.

“Cotton’s natural ability to meet the needs of performance and innovation across a wide range of products, price points, and consumer preferences make cotton the perfect fiber to support the industry in this critical time of technological growth,” says Mark Messura, Senior Vice President of global supply chain marketing at Cotton Incorporated.

Image by CottonWorks™

The Future of Digital Cotton

With a long legacy for promoting cotton in fashion for its versatility and innovation, Cotton Incorporated and its recently released digital fabrics is just getting started. Plans to expand the digital cotton library featuring mills and in-house collections are well underway. As innovators, Cotton Incorporated is committed to working with brands to adjust, learn, and evolve as the industry moves further into the digital world together. Likewise, as a voice of leadership in the natural fiber space, Cotton Incorporated will continue to serve as a partner and valuable asset to brands and retailers as they pursue more responsible decisions in material selection and product design and development.

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