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  • Writer's pictureMikelle Drew

Clo3D vs. Marvelous Designer: Which 3D Fashion Design Software is Right for You?

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Why Use CLO3D instead of Marvelous Designer
Why Use CLO3D instead of Marvelous Designer

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this lately so I thought I’d address it, especially since the two programs are so similar. But can you, and more importantly, should you substitute Clo3d for Marvelous Designer?

I’ve talked about and even made several videos on my YouTube channel about CLO3d and about the importance of 3d fashion design software. But I’ve never talked about Marvelous Designer.

If you’re unfamiliar with the software, Marvelous Designer is also a 3d design software, owned by the same company who owns CLO3d (it’s actually the precursor to CLO3d), and if you go to the Marvelous Designer website, you can see that you can do some amazing things with the program, just as amazing as CLO3d.

And if you open the two programs, they look and operate almost exactly the same. So what’s different? Why would you use one over the other, especially given the price difference?

Well, if you’re really planning to use 3d fashion design software as a significant tool within your fashion brand, you’re going to want to use CLO3D. Here's 5 reasons why:

Difference #1: Price

One of the significant differences between CLO3D and Marvelous Designer, and probably one of the biggest reasons this question has come up recently is the price. Whether you’re talking monthly or yearly rates, Marvelous Designer is the less expensive program. And particularly the yearly rate, Marvelous is significantly less expensive.

But I think the reason for that is because of some of the features I’m going to discuss. CLO3d has a lot more features that are specific to fashion design and beneficial to a fashion designer and fashion brand.

Difference #2: Pattern Export

Regardless of which program you’re using, you need to create a 2D pattern to dress the avatar. But a pretty significant difference is that in CLO3D, there are options to export that pattern so you can output it and actually sew a physical garment.

So if you’re creating this 3d garment for visualization but you’re still planning to create a physical garment and perhaps you want to use that pattern you created for your 1st sample, you’d need to be using CLO3D so you can export it as a DXF or even a PDF document and print it out.

Export your patterns in CLO3D to sew a physical garment.
Export your patterns in CLO3D to sew a physical garment.

Difference #3: Print Layout/Marker Making

On that same note, Marvelous Designer lacks the print layout that CLO3D has that will allow you to create a pattern layout for prints (if you’re working with printed fabric) and a marker, which you’ll probably use even more often.

So for those of you who don’t know what a marker is, it’s a digital layout of your pattern pieces so you get the best utilization of the fabric. For those of you who sew, you’ve seen this on your store bought pattern instructions. And it’s pretty important because it ensures that you buy enough fabric and you don’t waste money buying too much fabric.

Create a pattern layout or marker in CLO3D
Create a pattern layout or marker in CLO3D

Now if you’re making 1 garment, buying an extra ½ yard of fabric at $5/yd might not be that big of a deal. But if you’re doing bulk production, and let’s say you have to buy fabric for 1000 pieces, if you calculated incorrectly and bought an extra ½ yard for every piece, that’s an extra $2500 that you just spent that you didn’t need to and could have been spent on something else or paying someone else. And as a small designer, you’re watching your budget and making sure you’re resourceful with every penny.

Difference #4: Colorway

We go over this function in my CLO course, and it’s actually one of my favorite things and one of the sections where students who have taken the course have commented that they really had fun doing this.

Colorways are basically color choices. So if you have a style and that style comes in red, white, and black, each of those colors is a colorway. And you’ll create the design in one color, most likely white, and then, you’ll want to show (and see for yourself) how that garment will look in the other colors you’ve chosen to offer it in.

CLO3d fashion design software allows you to create colorways.
CLO3d fashion design software allows you to create colorways.

Also, and this is a big one for me because I’m an activewear designer, you're going to want to see how the other trims or graphics look, and particularly if you’re doing something that’s color blocked, you’ll want to see how the two colors look on the garment together.

So the colorway layout is another function that is only offered in CLO3d and not Marvelous Designer, and if you’re eventually doing 3D CADs or you’re creating a tech pack, being able to access this layout is going to be super helpful for you to make color decisions about your garment and for your customer to be able to visualize what that colorway looks like and whether they want to buy it.

Difference #5: Tech Pack

If you’ve watched videos on my YouTube channel, you’re in the fashion industry, or done some research, you probably already know how important a tech pack is. Now, I’ll be honest with you. I’m still not completely sold on this CLO generated tech pack, but I will say there’s some really important things that get generated with that tech pack that you can’t get in Marvelous Designer.

Generate a fashion tech pack directly from the CLO3D software.
Generate a fashion tech pack directly from the CLO3D software.

So besides there’s no CLO-set tech pack generator, there’s also no BOM editor or POM tab to create POMs for your tech pack spec sheet, both of which are pretty critical pages within the tech pack.

There’s a few other differences and enhancements that CLO3d has over Marvelous designer, but those 5 are what I think are most significant. Feel free to comment below to add to this list.

So if you’ve been going back and forth about whether you want to spend the money on CLO3d, I encourage you to get real about what you plan to use it for. If it’s just 3d visualization, Marvelous may be enough. But if you want to use those patterns to create a physical garment or you need to understand fabric utilization for costing purposes or to buy fabric for your physical garments or you want to work in corporate fashion, CLO3d is definitely the way to go.

If you're ready to learn CLO3D, sign up now for my CLO3D for the Fashion Designer: Beginner course. (Link contains limited time discount.)

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