Lee used CLO 3D to create these designs for Digital Fashion Week NYC in 2022.

In the past few years brands have taken up 3D design software, most commonly Browzwear and CLO 3D, to create digital mockups that partly or wholly replace physical samples. For a whole line, this can save thousands of dollars and months of time, not to mention fabric.

For this reason, there is a great need for 3D designers in the industry, according to Jennifer Lee, assistant professor of Fashion Business Management. Many apparel companies sell to retailers based on a digital mockup, which is then used to generate sales before the garment is produced. This means companies don’t need to guess how many pieces customers will want, and aren’t stuck with a lot of unsold inventory.

Lee says that Walmart and Target are among the many retailers requiring a first round of virtual samples. “It is a huge movement,” she says. “This skill is in very high demand.”

Every session of the five-week CLO 3D course Lee teaches in FIT’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies has been fully subscribed, and her students have been hired by Nike, Adidas, and The North Face. Victoria Chuzhina, Fashion Design ’21, learned Browzwear in a four-month internship with the DTech lab. When Covid-19 hit, she took a class in CLO 3D offered by Amy Sperber, assistant professor of Fashion Design. “After both of those experiences,” Chuzhina says, “I decided that 3D is a much better way of designing. It cuts down on so much waste.”

Because of her experiences with 3D design, she pivoted her career; now she works as an associate 3D technical designer for Basic Resources, a New York–based brand that makes athletic wear, loungewear, and sleepwear. Her team produces the garments without physical samples.

“Anyone who goes into fashion design has a small degree of guilt to know that you’re associated with this extremely polluting industry,” Chuzhina says. “If I can do anything to help minimize waste, I’ll do it.”