about d_archive and digital craftsmanship

September 21, 2023

You might be familiar with the 10,000-hour rule, which says it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to achieve mastery of complex skills.

Our four-person team has a cumulative total of more than 90,000 hours, collected in over 10 years of experience. We are experts in fashion and its digitization processes, having worked in this industry for more than a decade now, both from a creative, technical, and educational point of view. 

We have been working closely with clothing and accessories designers, academics, pattern makers, product managers, creative directors, textile designers, seamstresses, specialized artisans, brand managers, journalists, students, photographers, marketing teams, and all the other professionals involved in the vast cultural and manufacturing engine that fashion is. 

During all these years, we have been learning how much dedication and knowledge are required to participate in it and to produce meaningful outcomes. And the common denominator that keeps people passionate about their job is – you guessed it – fashion itself.

This might seem obvious, but we think it is important to keep the focus on it, considering that we personally approach fashion every day (mostly) from a technical perspective, which is closely tied to the digital tools we use. However, tools and innovative practices should not overshadow the creative and cultural value of fashion. 

We are not here to squeeze fashion into technology limitations for the sake of doing so, only to produce hyped-up, underwhelming digital merchandise that only benefits the pockets of some tech monopoly (yes, you know what we are referring to). Nor to promote the “cheap and fast” discourse that only leads to literal digital fast fashion, pushing people to buy more meaningless and forgettable items while using vague sustainability claims to cover it up, mirroring the worst part of the physical industry.

But I digress, we will take more time to talk about these matters.

The first reason that brought us to start d_archive is showing how 3D tools can enhance the way we engage and thoughtfully interact with fashion. We aim to create a space that fosters the admiration of things made slowly and with great care, reigniting an appreciation for quality artifacts and encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices. We want to start conversations (and arguments!), pushing people to reflect on the current – cursed – status of our industry, while embracing change and a continuous learning journey.

Another compelling factor that brought d_archive to life is the awareness of how hard it is to access information surrounding clothes that are stowed away in some museum or collector’s storage facilities. 

While these garments are rightfully treated with the utmost care to ensure their preservation, this practice often removes them from the realm of reality and the view of those who could benefit from studying them. 

Items that only exist in the form of a picture or two on a website, with rare appearances in exhibitions. And even when displayed, you need to be lucky enough to be in the right city at the right moment, and you will still not get to see these artifacts from up close, let alone handle them to understand their construction. 

Haven’t we all been there, almost physically in pain in front of a museum’s sign that warns us to not touch the exhibited clothes?

Finally, we want to show that true craftsmanship exists in the digital realm and how it can be achieved. And when combining this purpose with all the considerations we have been ruminating upon for years, about sustainability, quality and dedication, we decided to put our knowledge to good use. 

And what better subjects are there for introducing real craftsmanship into the digital realm than when analyzing the work of art created by past artisans and iconic designers?

We aim to give our audience the second-best option to a hands-on experience with heritage pieces, inviting everyone to analyze and engage with them as they please. Reconstruct and reinterpret them digitally, make them dance, include them in their papers, print them out and sew toiles to study. 

This is what we hope we will be able to do in this space, involving people that are as passionate as we are about it to contribute to this platform.

You can get started by exploring our gallery.

An early experiment we did was trying to reconstruct two Comme des Garçons pieces owned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. And I said “trying” because as you will see from the links below, the only available information is one picture for each garment and a few measurements in the description. This is all the material I used to make these replicas, which are inaccurate, but were made to prove a point.

If we can momentarily overlook these inaccuracies, it is quite self-explanatory how much information one can get from a 3D replica. We are able to see the volume and drape of the fabric, how the garments fit the body and we can zoom in to see more details. If we are interested in analyzing the 2D pattern, the file is available as well, as it is the starting point to build the 3D model itself. 

The top is from the autumn–winter 1983–84 Gloves, Skirts, Quilted Big Coats collection. (I think you can catch a glimpse of it in this runway video – but I’m not entirely sure) and the culottes are from an earlier collection, from 1982.

If you want an insight into our actual method for reconstructing 3D replicas, with which all the other models on the website were made, please have a look here.

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