Gerd Willschütz Interview - The Interline 2024

Released in The Interline’s DPC Report 2023, this executive interview is one of a sixteen-part series that sees The Interline quiz executives from major DPC companies on the evolution of 3D and digital product creation tools and workflows, and ask their opinions on what the future holds for the the extended possibilities of digital assets.

Key Takeaways:

  • The strength of a digital ecosystem lies in how seamlessly and effectively they interact internally and with other applications, with the goal being a seamless bridge between the physical and digital realms.
  • The key to unlocking the full-scale vision of DPC will be a mindset shift – moving beyond introducing new tools, and redesigning processes and workflows in a digital context.
DPC Report 2023
What do you believe are the greatest opportunities that are realistically achievable, in 2024, through investment in DPC talent and tools?

In 2023/24, the greatest opportunity to invest in digital product creation (DPC) is the initiation of a transformative journey. Investing in DPC talent and integrated solutions like DMIx is not just about enhancing capabilities; it’s about pioneering a shift in the paradigm of product creation.

The focus on DPC talent is crucial. We’re envisioning a workforce that goes beyond using tools to reimagining the entire process of design and development. This new breed of talent will drive innovation, making processes more flexible and responsive to the ever-evolving digital landscape.

In terms of tools, the most immediate and impactful benefit lies in accurate color communication. With technologies like DMIx, we can address one of the fashion and textile industry’s most persistent challenges: color discrepancies. This isn’t just about aesthetic precision, but about operational efficiency and sustainability. Accurate color communication means fewer reworks, reduced waste, and improved customer satisfaction.

By investing in DPC, we’re not just making an operational decision, but also a strategic move towards a future that values efficiency, sustainability, and customer-focus. This is about initiating a transformation, learning continuously, and harnessing the low-hanging fruits like precise color communication to set the stage for a more innovative, efficient, and responsive industry.

Do you believe that fashion is focusing too heavily on scaling digital product creation without having the right standards in place? And if so, what would the right foundations for interoperability and data interchange actually look like when they’re put into practice?

In the quest to scale digital product creation (DPC) in fashion, the industry does risk putting the cart before the horse. Scaling without a robust framework of standards is like building a skyscraper on sand. It might rise quickly, but it’s vulnerable to collapse. DMIx recognizes this, and it’s at the core of our approach: scaling with standards.

The right foundations for interoperability and data interchange in DPC are not just about technical compatibility, but about creating a common language. In practice, this looks like a unified platform where data flows seamlessly across different systems, software, and stages of the supply chain. It’s about an ecosystem where all players, regardless of size or technological capacity, can interact without barriers.

DMIx is crafted to be this universal translator in the world of fashion DPC. By avoiding the trap of being tethered to a single technical provider, we mitigate the risk of creating isolated technological islands that can’t communicate with one another. Our vision is to encompass all tiers, ensuring that from the smallest supplier to the largest retailer, everyone speaks the same digital language.

So, the foundation we need is one of inclusivity and universality. It’s a foundation that doesn’t just allow for data interchange but encourages it. It’s a system where interoperability is a given, not an afterthought. This is what DMIx is building, and it’s how we believe the industry can scale digital product creation not just rapidly, but sustainably and resiliently.

When we talk about the DPC ecosystem, we’re obviously speaking about core 3D simulation tools, rendering engines, and digital material platforms, but we’re also bringing in big, firmly-established enterprise systems like ERP and PLM, as well an array of other software and hardware across the extended supply chain. How do you think about your ambition at DMIx to be the connecting, digital thread that brings those environments together?

When we consider the digital product creation (DPC) ecosystem, we see a rich tapestry of technology – from 3D simulation tools to enterprise systems like ERP and PLM. At DMIx, our ambition is to be the digital thread that weaves these diverse elements into a cohesive, functional whole. Our goal is not simply integration; it’s interaction.

Hyperrealistic fashion design meets virtual models.

We recognize that the strength of a digital ecosystem lies not merely in its individual components, but in how seamlessly and effectively they interact internally and with other applications. DMIx already operates as a ‘phygital’ ecosystem, skilfully bridging the physical and digital realms. We connect a vast array of software and technical devices, from digitalization tools to quality control systems, creating a harmonious and efficient workflow.

Our extensive API plays a pivotal role in this. It’s not just a conduit for data exchange; it’s a catalyst for innovation and development. By linking relevant assets and initiating processes, we enable a level of collaboration and efficiency that’s unprecedented in the fashion and textile industry.

Think of DMIx as the conductor of an orchestra, where each instrument is a different software or hardware component. Alone, each instrument has potential, but together, under the guidance of a skilled conductor, they create something magnificent. That’s our vision at DMIx – to harmonize the DPC ecosystem, ensuring that every element, from the smallest software to the largest enterprise system, contributes to a symphony of digital innovation.

Our ambition is bold, but it’s grounded in a deep understanding of the industry’s needs. We’re not just building a platform; we’re crafting an environment where creativity, efficiency, and technology converge to redefine what’s possible in digital product creation.

As well as geometry and materials, the main continuous thread that runs through digital product creation is colour. Even in the analogue world, though, colour accuracy and integrity pose significant challenges, and discrepancies between intent and final colour are a significant risk and also the root cause of a huge amount of unnecessary sampling and waste. How do you propose to solve this, digitally?

In the journey of digital product creation, color generally is the starting point, the first brushstroke in a masterpiece. In the traditional world, achieving true color accuracy has been a maze-like challenge, leading to a cascade of inefficiencies and discrepancies. But at DMIx, we’re not just addressing this workflow challenge; we’re taking a new course that leads directly to the consumer, transforming their experience and improving retail quality.

DMIx revolutionizes this process by transitioning from a subjective, creative color vision to an objective, globally recognized industry standard. This standardization is more than a technical feat; it’s a universal language bridging the gap between designers and manufacturers, ensuring that what’s imagined is exactly what’s produced.

This alignment between creative vision and production reality has a direct and profound impact on retail quality. Consumers receive products that match their expectations – the color they see is the color they get. This precision in color representation not only boosts consumer satisfaction but also significantly reduces costly color-related claims. The result is a tangible, proven return on investment (ROI) for businesses.

Every color selection is a promise kept to the consumer, where the beauty of carefully staged products is matched by true to original design. This is the world DMIx is building – a world where digital accuracy leads to real-world satisfaction!

For a lot of brands and their partners, digital product creation strategies are focused on enabling the entire value chain to become more responsive – reacting quicker to changing market demands, and trimming the timeline from idea to finished product – but there’s a deeper opportunity for the industry to use the same tools and assets to become proactive instead, moving ahead of consumer demand. How does DMIx support that kind of dynamic, real-time model?

In the world of digital product creation, many brands are focused on being responsive and adapting quickly to market demands. But at DMIx, we’re not just keeping pace with the market; we’re creating a setup that enables  to be more dynamic, more agile. It’s not about reacting to trends; it’s about enabling a level of flexibility and speed that can redefine the industry standards.

At the core of our DMIx philosophy is bringing the right people together. We create an ecosystem where transparency is paramount. This clarity across the tier chain is transformative and illuminates every step of the product creation process.

The DMIx project management systems, DMIx CoopR and DMIx MatchBox, are not just tools, but catalysts for change. They transform traditional, disjointed workflows, which are often confined to personal email inboxes, into standardized, efficient, and collaborative processes. This is where the magic happens – where ideas are nurtured and developed with precision and speed.

By integrating the suppliers’ product master data systems with the brands’ PLM/ERP systems, we not only connect the  dots, but also construct the basis for a digital product passport. This infrastructure is key because it prepares brands for future shifts, such as eco-tax regulations. It’s a proactive stance that ensures compliance and readiness for upcoming changes in the industry .

While DMIx might not directly influence consumer preferences, it opens windows for greater flexibility and faster development without compromising on quality. With DMIx we’re creating a world where brands not only react to the market, but where they are able to navigate it with agility and insight.

How would you describe the ideal 3D / DPC pipeline – category-specific or generalised – and what barriers are currently preventing it from being built and widely adopted? What pieces still need to be put in place for fashion to stand the best chance of achieving what you define as the full-scale vision for DPC?

Each brand, each category has its unique rhythm, and yet there’s a universal melody that unites them all. The ideal pipeline, therefore, should be adaptable – flexible enough to cater to specific needs, yet based in standardization and scalability. This is where the true artistry of digital product creation lies.

Currently, the obstacles to realizing this vision are not only technological, but also cultural. We encounter a landscape where proven industrial workflows are often overlooked, and harmonized processes are absent even within a single company. This disjointed approach is akin to musicians playing in different keys – there’s potential, but the lack of unison leads to dissonance.

The key to unlocking the full-scale vision of DPC lies in a change in mindset. Decision-making, especially for standard items, needs to embrace the digital realm. This isn’t just about introducing new tools, but also about redesigning processes and workflows in a digital context. As long as there’s reluctance to move decision-making into the digital space, the path to an ideal DPC pipeline remains blocked.

However, it is inevitable. Ignoring the growing demand for data-driven transparency and effective workflows would not only be a missed opportunity, but also a strategic misstep, even for the industry’s most successful players. The future of fashion depends on its ability to integrate digital innovation into its core processes.

Personally, I believe in a world where fashion is not just created but orchestrated through a harmonious blend of technology and creativity. At DMIx, we’re committed to creating this world and turning the vision of a unified, adaptable, and standard-driven DPC pipeline into a reality.

For more on digital product creation in fashion, download the full DPC Report 2023 completely free of charge and ungated.