Polartec and Portland Apparel Lab Teach 3D Skills to the Next Generation of Designers

As 3D technology continues to revolutionize how we design apparel, Polartec is working to become a leader in the space and opening up opportunities for 3D learning. Recently, we launched a collection of 3D Polartec performance fabrics directly within the Browzwear platform. But we’re excited for this next chapter by partnering with Portland Apparel Lab (PAL) to equip new and upcoming designers with 3D capability.

Portland Apparel Lab

Portland Apparel Lab Blog Inline Image

PAL is a tech design and prototyping studio founded by Dawn Moothart, a long-time freelance designer in the Portland, OR, area. As a freelancer, Dawn found her clients always seemed to struggle with the same thing. Portland doesn’t have a “garment district” as you’d find in New York or LA, so start-up brands and new entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and energy sourcing materials or finding the services they need to get products made. In 2014, Dawn created Portland Apparel Lab to solve this problem.

“My hope was to become a hub for materials, services, and information so that brands could benefit from one another’s research and knowledge and spend less time searching for what they need and more time building their brand,” said Moothart. “Instead of everyone starting from square one every time, collectively, maybe we could all start from square 100.”

Why Portland? Not only is it home to some of the most famous apparel companies in the world, but it’s also home to Dawn. She’s a long-time Portlander who moved from the outskirts to go to Lewis & Clark College where she received her math and arts degree. She discovered that apparel pattern making was the perfect merge of her studies, blending geometry, engineering, and aesthetics. She started PAL in her living room in Southeast Portland with a couple of industrial sewing machines and a cutting table made from a sheet of MDF balanced on two bookcases. Today, PAL is in a light-filled studio, growing every year with organic partnerships, and offering courses to prep the next generation of designers.

Portland Apparel Lab Blog Bottom Image

The Future of Design is 3D

3D design was well on its way to being widely adopted by large apparel companies before the pandemic, and the need to isolate punched that adoption into hyper-drive. Designers are learning (and have been for a while now) to develop garments from concept to creation without ever having touched, cut, or sewn a fabric. By using 3D platforms like Browzwear’s VStitcher, designers are speeding production, improving garment accuracy, and reducing overall waste in the process - It’s the way forward in this business.

“3D gives the product team the ability to stretch the boundaries of innovation and experimentation, as the iteration cost in time and materials is so low,” said Moothart. “I’ve seen designs happen through the 3D process that never would have happened through the traditional pattern/proto cycle, as the designer had time to experiment and problem solve with shapes and materials on the avatar until their complex design was resolved.”

Moving from paper to screen can be a fun, but challenging transition for many. That’s why Portland Apparel Lab offers two 3D Prototyping classes to help designers stay industry-ready for the job they want. PAL teaches in a self-paced format through the MOTIF learning platform, but also offers live classes that meet weekly with Dawn over Zoom. Both classes offer students the opportunity to not only become familiar with the tools and functionality of Browzwear and VStitcher software, but more importantly, to learn a solid workflow and how best to incorporate 3D into their work and design process.

Students will also have the opportunity to work with Polartec’s wide collection of performance fabrics, ranging from jersey-knit baselayers, thermoregulating midlayers, and beautifully-draped shells and weather protection pieces. We’re more than excited to work with PAL as they begin to enroll students for the Spring session.

You can learn more about the 3D Prototyping class here.

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