Streamlining footwear manufacturing with 3D scanning technology

How Deckers Brands reduced manufacturing and shipping costs with RestAR in every factory

Deckers: A Unity Case Study

Sporting a global portfolio of popular footwear, Deckers Brands wanted to make the product lifecycle across its brands more efficient. By using RestAR’s 3D technology to scan and render physical consumer products in high-quality 3D, Deckers streamlined prototyping, design review and sample production, saving on time, money, materials, labor and CO2 emissions.

  • The challenge

    To optimize and future-proof a footwear manufacturing workflow throughout all global operations

  • Team members

    3,500 employees worldwide

  • Location

    Headquartered in Goleta, U.S., with 35 factories around the world

Deckers keeps its feet on the ground with 3D scanning

Founded in computer vision and deep learning, RestAR (now a Unity company), enables fashion brands, online retailers, and marketers to scan and render physical consumer products in high-quality 3D, using only a mobile device. The affordability and mobility of its services, its ease of use and fast results position RestAR as a frontrunner in 3D technology for e-commerce, business-to-business (B2B) sales, and virtual sampling.

Unity x Deckers shoes display

The results

  • Saved 80% on the cost of 3D scans compared to other scanning technology 
  • High-definition scans produced within hours instead of days
  • Almost eliminated the need for physical samples using photorealistic 3D renderings, saving on shipping, travel, and time

Laying the groundwork for efficiency

When Deckers incorporated RestAR into its manufacturing workflow, it hoped to make its processes more effective. The technology is now being used across the product lifecycle, from design review and rapid prototyping to sales and marketing, and in more than 30 Deckers factories worldwide. By streamlining sample production, facilitating design review, enabling virtual sampling and sales, and producing beautiful 3D assets that can be leveraged for immersive retail experiences, Deckers is working smarter than ever.

Deckers offers fashion and performance, with a focus on making people’s lives more comfortable, with familiar footwear brands such as UGG, Koolaburra by UGG, Teva, Sanük, and HOKA One One.

The company had been using 3D modeling for more than five years when, in late 2019, Deckers started using RestAR. Mitchell Harvey, 3D Innovation Manager at Deckers, was tasked with finding a better way of doing things so Deckers could use 3D scanning more effectively for all its products across brands, from the design and development process to shipping sales samples. 

The potential of RestAR’s 3D scanning technology to streamline production while optimizing materials, labor, travel and shipping was clear. RestAR allows you to capture a scan wherever the product is; all you need is a phone.

 

From design to sample

For Deckers, footwear design and manufacturing is a global production. With design and production teams geographically dispersed, the potential for miscommunication was amplified. 

To close the gap between design and production, Deckers integrated 3D modeling into its workflow. Now when a footwear designer produces a sketch, a 3D artist creates a 3D model to hand off to Deckers to review; then a sample is made by a factory partner. In the past, the factory might have had to produce three or four rounds of samples as the team iterated on the design. Using a 3D model improved communication such that the first sample often turns out to everyone’s satisfaction. 

Once Deckers is pleased with the output, the model is sent to the factory with a bill of materials and a 2D pattern. When the 3D model has been approved, the factory creates a sample that is then scanned using the RestAR app. 

Due to the high volume of designs, Deckers is not yet at capacity to build every single model and colorway. So being able to capture 3D scans became essential. Beyond the initial design and development process, 3D models are invaluable for sales teams, with huge savings in time and money on materials and shipping. By using RestAR to scan 3D colorways, Deckers eliminated the need to create and ship physical colorway samples around the world. 

After a “first look” review, an initial line review (sometimes called a go-to-market meeting) is conducted, where everyone sees the first physical products. These meetings typically include global sales representatives and involve a lot of travel and logistics, but reviewing a 3D model is easily accessible and affordable.

Person interacting with DECKERS simulation on mobile device

Scanning on the factory floor

As part of Deckers’ new workflow, when a factory produces a physical sample, workers use RestAR to produce a 3D scan straight away. “We have RestAR in every factory,” says Harvey. “All we needed was a turntable and a light box. We can use a phone and it takes five minutes to capture a 3D scan.” 

Producing a complete scan for rapid prototyping, including post-processing, takes 1–2 hours and costs only $80 per shoe with RestAR – compared to three days and $200 per scan with a previous scanning partner. 

Other scanning technology requires facilities equipped with specialized camera equipment and rigs that can cost as much as $10,000, along with personnel trained to use them and enough square footage to accommodate them. RestAR, on the other hand, is essentially portable, eliminating the hassle of shipping products to scanning facilities and providing comparable scan quality for immense savings of time and money. 

The scanning technology can provide near photorealistic results, varying according to the textures and materials of the object. However, Deckers ensures that any consumer-facing renders fully represent the product and have now found a comfortable rhythm using RestAR alongside other footwear-specific design software to produce the best results.

Creating a virtual showroom

Having already implemented RestAR and streamlined the sample production process, Deckers readily adapted to conditions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Harvey, “Due to the pandemic, we stopped receiving samples on time. RestAR was the only option that made sense – reviewing samples in 3D was critical for our design and sales meetings this season.” 

Beyond samples for design review, Deckers’ global sales representatives are now using 3D samples in remote meetings with potential buyers. Harvey explains, “For sales meetings, we developed a solution in-house to create assortments with thumbnails of shoes, which salespeople could drag and drop to create the sales orders, but since we have embedded RestAR, it was actually an instant 3D assortment ready for a virtual showroom.” 

DECKERS virtual try-on on mobile device

Retail innovation: Looking a step ahead

Deckers is putting its best foot forward as RestAR is being integrated into other facets of the company’s operations and expanding the possibilities for improvement.

Bringing RestAR models into Deckers’ internal product lifecycle management system, sales tools, and consumer insights tools are producing efficiencies by heightening visualization and communication to inform product development, as well as improving sustainability and the company’s overall carbon footprint.

As shopping shifts rapidly to online, Deckers is providing more immersive experiences, such as Snapchat-AR Try-On and Facebook 3D Ads, to its customers. Pictures of shoes lined up in a row are reimagined as a virtual showroom to consumers. 

“3D has led to better decisions, more accurate predictions, and faster time to market. This is helping us save time and money, and make decisions a lot faster,” says Harvey. “There are no limitations to what you can explore within those environments to communicate your brand and offer an unforgettable experience to your consumer.”

Mitchell Harvey, 3D Innovation Manager, Deckers

“Due to the pandemic, we stopped receiving samples on time – we weren't getting physical samples at all. RestAR was the only option that made sense – reviewing 3D samples was how we saved our footwear collections this season.”

Mitchell Harvey, 3D Innovation Manager, Deckers

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