One of the most common questions new designers ask me is which CAD system they should learn to sketch in to which I always say Illustrator. Patternmakers will translate your designs for the factory you're working with, as a designer you need to focus on your fashion sketchs to sell your work at market. This week, I thought I would discuss a market game changer that I've been waiting for over a decade since Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo came out in 2004. First, a little backstory on CAD systems past, present, and where I see the future of the industry going. Today: the past.
Growing up, my Aunt Mimi designed fur and leather coat patterns in Gerber as that was what they taught at NC State back in the early 1990s. I'm told the base operating system hasn't changed that much in 25+ years from what I work on today or what I remember playing in the fur racks while she worked. It was however, only one of four major systems CAD systems in use at the time. The others were Lectra, PAD, and Assyst. Many people still use oaktag and ignore computers entirely so don't think a patternmaker who works old school doesn't have a lot to offer you. I've played on all four systems and used oaktag....my motto is whatever works.
Plants generally bought one system to design their stuff, however it varied from one area to another. Today they tend to use what they inherited. The licenses tend to be too expensive and impractical for a single plant to own everything, the patternmaker will translate whatever you send them into a working model for their plant so don't get hung up on what program your sewing contractor uses. If you ever want to want to learn more about a past snapshot of the business 20+ years ago, I recommend reading Stephen Gray's book: CAD/CAM in Clothing and Textiles. It's an excellent read.
Dara and Nash are two happily married craftspeople who love making practical beautiful things.