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Cat Taylor 3D designer Balenciaga Off-White Burberry Nike

The self-taught digital designer reimagining Balenciaga & Off-White looks

Cat Taylor has collaborated with the likes of Nike and is using her online platform Digi-Gal to spotlight women in a heavily male-dominated industry

This year, fashion officially fast-forwarded from 2018 to 3018 – seen on the catwalk via future-looking trends, and off it in the form of AI influencers like Lil Miquela. Making waves in fashion’s digital realm is 3D designer Cat Taylor, who specialises in creating digital outfits – think recreations of IRL Balenciaga, A-COLD-WALL*, Vetements, and Off-White’s most innovative looks.

While Taylor’s studies in textile design at Chelsea College of Art provided her with the hands-on experience she was looking for, she realised it was actually the digital realm she wanted to work in. She was dissuaded by her tutors, however: it wasn’t a medium they understood.  

Undeterred, Taylor spent hours on YouTube, teaching herself how to use the software required to create 3D digital clothing. “At the time, I wasn’t feeling very inspired by anything, so I just took the leap and taught myself as much as I could before I had to present my graduate collection,” she explains. While you might think it is an unnecessary advancement in fashion, the use of 3D digital design allows brands to create realistic prototypes in a variety of different styles without having to actually make them; eliminating huge amounts of waste each year.

“I think people are scared that the industry will tip over into completely digital 3D design, and it’s obviously not going to. Paintings and photographs still both exist together” – Cat Taylor 

Since graduating, the designer has worked on freelance projects with the likes of Nike and personal projects inspired by Off-White, designing an animation of a modeless jumpsuit seemingly walking along (bouncing breasts included) for the latter’s AW18 collection. While the need for 3D digital design was obvious to Taylor, despite being picked up by major sportswear brands, fashion is adopting it a little more slowly. “I think people are scared that the industry will tip over into completely digital 3D design,” she explains. “It’s obviously not going to. Paintings and photographs still both exist together.”

Already fighting for viability in fashion, Taylor also notes the difficulty of working as a young woman in the 3D digital design industry – one that is very male-dominated. To combat this, she launched Digi-Gal: an online platform for women to connect with others in their industry. “I’ve had loads of great feedback, with so many people telling me that previously it’s been so hard finding women working in 3D, so it’s nice there’s this online registry for it now,” Taylor says. “People have said they’ve got work from Digi-Gal which is really nice to hear, and I’ve seen a lot of people who have become connected because of it – that’s exactly what I wanted.”

Here, we speak with Taylor on the growing 3D digital design industry and what the future holds.

What first interested you in working in fashion?

Cat Taylor: My main aim in life – all the way back when I was in year nine – was to go to Central Saint Martins. I was always interested in the smaller details, so I chose to go into textile design, rather than design more wholly. That lent itself to looking at materials in close detail. After taking a foundation course, I decided that Chelsea was the one I was dreaming about.

How did that lead you into 3D digital design?

Cat Taylor: I've always had a stronger digital side, so I wanted to use that to my advantage. I was Googling randomly and then I came across the software I could use and I decided that would help set me apart. I started teaching myself and my tutors didn’t really understand. They said: ‘We don’t know how to mark this, so it’s on your own head’. I kept doing it anyway and I’ve been pretty successful so far.

Were you surprised that you were dissuaded by your lecturers from pursuing 3D digital design?

Cat Taylor:  It’s a massive thing and it did shock me that that was the attitude towards it. Although it also didn’t shock me too. It was mad because this has always been my dream, but I couldn’t understand why it didn’t really exist already. There were all these avatars that existed, and graphic design and fashion obviously exist, but there was nothing merging all three together. It was just obvious that it needed to happen, as this is the next stage in fashion.

Why do you think there are so many people against digital advancements in fashion?

Cat Taylor: People’s instant reaction these days is to take offence. If there’s anything unknown, they’re against it, but they should take the time to learn about it. 3D clothing is a way for the fashion industry to be more sustainable. Carlings is a good example of how people are starting to realise that rather than things being made technically, they can be made digitally, if we mostly see them on a screen.

You’ve already worked with Nike, Off-White, and Sports Banger. What are some of best accomplishments?

Cat Taylor: I really enjoyed the Nike project, there were three miniature films for three different designers in London. There were some great women working on the team and then to see my work in the Nike store... It was a crazy but a really proud moment. I also loved working with Sports Banger, there was a massive screen outside Sports Direct with my 3D animations on it on Oxford Street. To have 3D clothing on such a huge street in London was sick.

What made you want to start Digi-Gal?

Cat Taylor: There was a company I was working for, and I was getting so frustrated with the lack of female representation within the 3D section. I knew my job was coming to an end and I wanted to connect with more women working in 3D so I just launched an online platform. Initially, it was just for me, but then I thought: ‘I’m sure loads of other people would want this too.’ When I’ve worked on projects before, behind-the-scenes it’s all so male-dominated, with usually one or two women in the whole team who are put in the spotlight to make things look better – it’s misrepresentation. Rather than putting a few women on the front line, companies should be better.

What do you think the future holds for digital 3D design?

Cat Taylor: Obviously fashion trends come and go, but I think the sustainable element to it will stay. I think the main reason the software was invented in the first place was to bring sustainability to companies. adidas has a whole 3D design team, so instead of them making all these samples, they make a few 3D models with different variations. It saves so much time and resources too, so I think that will be what is important.

What are your plans for the future?

Cat Taylor: I’ve got loads of things that I want to do, like reinventing the whole idea of a fashion runway show – but in 3D. Bringing out the digital side and taking it into the physical realm more. I want to go in more of a high fashion direction, hit it at the top basically. I’ve always wanted to work with Burberry or Gucci because I’ve done the sportswear thing, but I want to do more fashion too. I did a project with Balenciaga that never came out, but I’d love to work with them again at some point.