White House: Russia Continues to Target US With Cyberattacks

The White House said Wednesday it believes Russia is continuing to target the United States with cyberattacks related to the upcoming November congressional elections.

“We believe that the threat still exists,” President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

Her statement came hours after the U.S. leader appeared to contradict an assessment last week by Dan Coats, his director of national intelligence, that “the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.” Coats singled out Russia as the “most aggressive foreign actor, no question.”

Trump, meeting with his Cabinet at the White House, shook his head and said “no” when asked by a reporter whether Russia was still attempting to interfere in U.S. elections. But Sanders later said Trump was saying “no,” he would not answer reporters’ questions.

Trump said, “We’re doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there’s been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia.”

Earlier, in a string of predawn Twitter comments, Trump boasted again about his Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying critics of his performance in Helsinki were suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

“Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia,” Trump tweeted. “They would rather go to war than see this.”

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump said. “Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”

The president’s Twitter comments came hours after he said he accepted the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, walking back his Monday comments embracing Putin’s denial that Moscow had interfered.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday.

But he then added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there,” an assessment of the possibility that other countries tried to interfere in the U.S. election that was not part of the intelligence community’s finding.

The U.S. holds congressional elections in November, when the entire 435-member House of Representatives is being contested and a third of the 100-member Senate.

On Twitter Wednesday, Trump wrote that his meeting with Putin could be more successful than the NATO summit in the long-term.

Trump’s revision of the comments he made as he stood alongside Putin at a news conference at the end of their summit came after a torrent of criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike, who said the U.S. leader appeared to be weak compared to his Russian counterpart.

Only a handful of Republican colleagues of Trump praised his performance.

Trump said that after he reviewed a transcript of his Helsinki remarks, he realized he misspoke.

“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been … ‘I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia” — that Russia interfered in the election, Trump said.

But he added that the Russian actions had no impact on the outcome of his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, and reiterated his frequent statement denying that there was any collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives.

U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is continuing his 14-month criminal investigation of Russian interference.

Trump said his administration will do everything it can to thwart any Russian efforts to interfere with November’s U.S. congressional elections.

“We will stop it, we will repel it,” Trump vowed.

Before back-tracking, Trump said on Twitter he had a great summit with Putin and gave no ground in changing his statements about accepting Putin’s denial of interference in the U.S. election two years ago.

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, responded to Trump’s initial rosy assessment.

“Let’s be very clear: Russia meddled in our election,” Ryan said. “We know they interfered with our elections, and we have passed sanctions on Russia to hold them accountable.”

When asked about election meddling during the joint news conference with Putin on Monday, Trump said, “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

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Elon Musk Apologizes for Comments About Cave Rescue Diver

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has apologized for calling a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile, saying he spoke in anger but was wrong to do so.

There was no immediate public reaction from diver Vern Unsworth to Musk’s latest tweets.

Musk’s initial tweet calling Unsworth a “pedo” was a response to a TV interview Unsworth gave. In it, he said Musk and SpaceX engineers orchestrated a “PR stunt” by sending a small submarine to help divers rescue the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave. Unsworth said the submarine, which wasn’t used, wouldn’t have worked anyway.

“My words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths …” Musk tweeted.

“Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.”

Musk’s Sunday tweet, later deleted, had sent investors away from Tesla stock, which fell nearly 3 percent Monday but recovered 4.1 percent Tuesday. Unsworth told CNN earlier this week that he was considering legal action. He did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

In his latest tweets, Musk said the mini-sub was “built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.”

Musk has 22.3 million followers and his active social media presence has sometimes worked well for Tesla. The company has said in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it doesn’t need to advertise because it gets so much free media attention.

But straying away from defending his companies into personal insult brought Musk some unfavorable attention at a time when Tesla, worth more than $52 billion, is deep in debt and struggling for profitability. 

In northern Thailand on Wednesday, the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach answered questions from journalists, their first meeting with the media since their rescues last week. Doctors said all are healthy.

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Elon Musk Apologizes for Comments About Cave Rescue Diver

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has apologized for calling a British diver involved in the Thailand cave rescue a pedophile, saying he spoke in anger but was wrong to do so.

There was no immediate public reaction from diver Vern Unsworth to Musk’s latest tweets.

Musk’s initial tweet calling Unsworth a “pedo” was a response to a TV interview Unsworth gave. In it, he said Musk and SpaceX engineers orchestrated a “PR stunt” by sending a small submarine to help divers rescue the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a flooded cave. Unsworth said the submarine, which wasn’t used, wouldn’t have worked anyway.

“My words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths …” Musk tweeted.

“Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.”

Musk’s Sunday tweet, later deleted, had sent investors away from Tesla stock, which fell nearly 3 percent Monday but recovered 4.1 percent Tuesday. Unsworth told CNN earlier this week that he was considering legal action. He did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

In his latest tweets, Musk said the mini-sub was “built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.”

Musk has 22.3 million followers and his active social media presence has sometimes worked well for Tesla. The company has said in its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it doesn’t need to advertise because it gets so much free media attention.

But straying away from defending his companies into personal insult brought Musk some unfavorable attention at a time when Tesla, worth more than $52 billion, is deep in debt and struggling for profitability. 

In northern Thailand on Wednesday, the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach answered questions from journalists, their first meeting with the media since their rescues last week. Doctors said all are healthy.

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Trump Upends Norms of Presidential Behavior, Historians Say

President Donald Trump’s tumultuous trip across Europe, historians say, smashed the conventions of American leaders on the world stage.

Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy had him seeming to accept the word of a hostile power over his own intelligence agencies, insulting allies and sowing doubts about his commitment to the NATO alliance.

“We’ve never had a president go abroad and not only lecture to our NATO allies, but also to embarrass them,” said Russia expert William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. “We’ve never had our president go on a foreign tour and categorize our allies as foes. And we’ve never had our president hold a joint news conference with a Russian leader where he assigned blame, from his perspective, to both parties, but in fact dedicated most of his time to blaming the U.S. Justice Department and intelligence services.”

While past presidents have had difficult foreign trips and been criticized for their summits with Soviet leaders, Trump’s behavior has few parallels, in the view of presidential historians and longtime Russia watchers.

Franklin Roosevelt was accused of “selling out” to Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945; John F. Kennedy and his aides admitted that he’d been unprepared for his 1961 Vienna summit with Nikita Khrushchev; the Reykjavik summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 was seen at the time to have ended in failure; and George W. Bush was mocked for telling reporters in 2001 after meeting with Putin that he had “looked the man in the eye” and “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.”

Trump’s trip was seen as different.

“Frankly, I don’t think those U.S. presidents at any point came off as not pursuing U.S. security interests, as being taken in by the Soviet leader they were meeting with,” said Alina Polyakova, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution. “I think even President George W. Bush’s meeting, where he had that famous quote about looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing into his soul — this summit dwarfs that by a factor of a thousand.”

Indeed, even before he departed Washington, Trump had made clear that he was itching for a fight. He criticized members of NATO, the decades-old military alliance, for failing to spend enough on defense and suggested he might not be interested in “paying for Europe’s protection” any longer.

Germany

In his first appearance at a pre-summit breakfast in Brussels, he went after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, claiming Germany was “totally controlled” by Russia and later asked on Twitter, “What good is NATO.” The summit ended in a whiplash-inducing proclamation from the president that NATO was stronger than ever, as he claimed he’d secured new commitments to defense spending, which those present later disputed.

United Kingdom

The drama continued as Trump headed to his next stop, the U.K. His first official visit was overshadowed by fallout from the rhetorical grenade he’d lobbed at British Prime Minister Theresa May before arriving. In a tabloid interview, he criticized May’s Brexit plans, said he might no longer be open to a trade deal with the U.K., and said one of May’s political rivals would be an excellent prime minister, undermining her at a time when her government is in turmoil.

Then came yet another interview, this one from one of his golf courses in Scotland, in which Trump categorized the European Union as a top geopolitical “foe.”

​Putin summit

Nothing, however, had quite prepared the world for Trump’s comments in Helsinki after hours of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded, meddled in the 2016 election, hacked Democratic Party emails and disseminated them in an effort to help Trump win.

Standing on stage with the man accused of complicity in an attack on American democracy, Trump said his intelligence people “think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.” He also went after his Justice Department, calling its investigation into Russia’s efforts and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign a “disaster for our country.”

It was a stunning comment from an American president — one that he partially tried to walk back 24 hours later by blaming a grammatical glitch. But he did not retreat from a number of his other comments giving credence to Putin’s denials of election interference.

“Trump 0 – Putin 1,” blared the front page of Finland’s Kauppalehti newspaper.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and professor at Rice University, compared Trump to “a bull carrying his own china shop around with him.”

“Just standing and selling your country downriver on foreign soil in front of your adversary — there’s no precedent for such disgraceful and irrational behavior,” Brinkley said.

Pomeranz said Trump had done himself political damage by suggesting both sides were to blame for the Russia probe that has hurt U.S. relations with Moscow — just as Trump did when he blamed both sides when responding to violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Pomeranz said the damage Trump did by describing the E.U. as a foe and lecturing his NATO allies was significant.

“I think that is what’s going to be remembered from this week,” he said.

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Cute Robots Invade Smithsonian Museum

Known as the largest education, and research complex in the world, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC is a collection of 19 museums that house more than 140 million unique items. It’s no wonder it’s been called “the nation’s attic.” But there’s a novel addition to the venerable complex — a smart new technology that interacts with visitors. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti introduces us to the Smithsonian’s newest resident.

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Cute Robots Invade Smithsonian Museum

Known as the largest education, and research complex in the world, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC is a collection of 19 museums that house more than 140 million unique items. It’s no wonder it’s been called “the nation’s attic.” But there’s a novel addition to the venerable complex — a smart new technology that interacts with visitors. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti introduces us to the Smithsonian’s newest resident.

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Trump Slams Haters, Touts Putin Meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump boasted again Wednesday about his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying critics of his performance in Helsinki were suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

“Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia,” Trump said on Twitter. “They would rather go to war than see this.”

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump tweeted in the predawn hours. “Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!”

The president’s Twitter comments came hours after he said he accepted the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election, walking back his Monday comments embracing Putin’s denial that Moscow had interfered.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday. But he then added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there,” an assessment of the possibility that other countries tried to interfere in the U.S. election that was not part of the intelligence community’s finding.

On Twitter Wednesday, Trump said, “While the NATO meeting in Brussels was an acknowledged triumph, with billions of dollars more being put up by member countries at a faster pace, the meeting with Russia may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success. Many positive things will come out of that meeting.”

The U.S. leader, referring to his demands that North Korea end its nuclear weapons program, said, “Russia has agreed to help with North Korea, where relationships with us are very good and the process is moving along. There is no rush, the sanctions remain! Big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!”

Trump’s revision of his comments he made as he stood alongside Putin at a news conference at the end of their summit came after a torrent of criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike, who said the U.S. leader appeared to be weak compared to the Russian leader. Only a handful of Republican colleagues of Trump praised his performance.

Trump said that after he reviewed a transcript of his Helsinki remarks, he realized he misspoke.

“In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word ‘would’ instead of ‘wouldn’t.’ The sentence should have been…’I don’t see any reason why it WOULDN’T be Russia” that Russia interfered in the election, Trump said.

But he added that the Russian actions had no impact on the outcome of his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state, and reiterated his frequent statement denying that there was any collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is continuing his 14-month criminal investigation of Russian interference.

Trump said his administration will do everything it can to thwart any Russian efforts to interfere with November’s U.S. congressional elections.

“We will stop it, we will repel it,” Trump vowed.

Before back-tracking, Trump said on Twitter he had a great summit with Putin and gave no ground in changing his statements about accepting Putin’s denial of interference in the U.S. election two years ago.

 

On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, responded to Trump’s initial rosy assessment.

“Let’s be very clear: Russia meddled in our election,” Ryan said. “We know they interfered with our elections, and we have passed sanctions on Russia to hold them accountable.”

 

When asked about election meddling during the joint news conference with Putin on Monday, Trump said, “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

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Cute Robots Invade the Smithsonian

Known as the largest education, and research complex in the world, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC is a collection of 19 museums that house more than 140 million unique items. It’s no wonder it’s been called “the nation’s attic.” But there’s a novel addition to the venerable complex — a smart new technology that interacts with visitors. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti introduces us to the Smithsonian’s newest resident.

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Fashion Firms Upend Design Routine to Focus on Speed, Trends

Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was a hot style in sneakers and wanted to quickly jump on the trend for dressier shoes. It put a poll up on its website asking shoppers what style they liked, and based on that had a shoe for sale online in just one week.

 

What web shoppers saw was a 3-D rendering — no actual shoe existed yet. Creating a traditional prototype, tweaking the design and making a sample would have taken six to nine months, and the company might have missed out on the interest in knit.

 

“The web attention span is short,” said Betabrand CEO Chris Lindland. “So if you can develop and create in a short time, you can be a real product-development machine.”

Shoppers looking at the shoe online could examine the peekaboo detail or check out how the sole was put together, as they would from photos of a real product. They don’t get the actual shoes instantaneously — they have to wait a few months. But the use of digital technology in designing and selling means hot trends are still getting to people far faster than under the old system.

 

“Retailers and brands who are embracing this are going to be winners of the future,” said David Bassuk, managing director of consulting group AlixPartners. “This is flipping the business model on its head.”

 

It’s a big cultural change for clothing makers. For decades, the process meant designers sketched ideas on paper, a design got approved, and the sketches went to a factory that created prototypes. Designers and product developers made tweaks and sent prototypes back and forth. Once a final version was approved, it was sent to the factory to be copied for mass production. Getting something from design to a store could take at least a year.

Now, some companies have designers sketching on high-resolution tablets with software that can email 3-D renderings of garments with specifications straight to factories, as better technology makes the images look real and the pressure to get shoppers new products swiftly intensifies. The goal is to reduce to six months or less the time it takes to get to store shelves.

 

Even chains like H&M, which once set the standard for speed by flying in frequent small batches, are realizing that’s not fast enough. H&M, which has seen sales slow, is starting to digitize certain areas of its manufacturing process.

 

For clothing makers and retailers, the shift means design decisions can happen closer to when the fashions actually hit the shelves or website. That means less guessing so stores aren’t stuck with piles of unsold clothes that need to be discounted.

 

The 3-D technology is used in just 2 percent of the overall supply networks, estimates Spencer Fung, group CEO of Li & Fung, which consults with more than 8,000 retailers including Betabrand and 15,000 suppliers globally. But he believes that will change as retailers begin prioritizing speed and realize that cutting down on design time and prototypes saves money.

 

“You can actually essentially create an entire collection before you even cut one garment,” said Whitney Cathcart, CEO of the Cathcart Technologies consulting firm. “So it reduces waste, it reduces lead times, it allows decision making in real time, so the entire process becomes more efficient.”

 

Fung imagines a scenario where a social media post with a celebrity in a red dress gets 500,000 “likes.” An alert goes to a retailer that this item is trending. Within hours, a digital sample of a similar dress is on its website. A factory can start to produce the dress in days.

 

“Consumers see it and they want it now,” says Michael Londrigan of fashion college LIM in New York. “How do you bring it to market so you don’t miss those dollars?”

 

Nicki Rector of the Sonoma Valley area in California bought a pair of Betabrand’s Western-style boots last summer based on the 3-D rendering.

 

“It looked real,” said Rector, who examined the images of the heel and the insoles. She didn’t worry about buying off a digital image, reasoning that if you’re buying online you can’t really know how something’s going to fit until you put it on your feet. She said knowing it was designed from customer input also helped make the wait OK.

 

Betabrand has sold 40,000 pairs of shoes priced from $128 to $168 over the past year, all from digital renderings, and plans to add 15 to 20 such projects this year.

At a Levi Strauss & Co. research and development facility in San Francisco, designers use programs that offer the look of a finished garment and let them make changes like adding pockets quickly, rather than requiring a new prototype. When they’re set, they can send a file to the factory for mass production. Using digital samples can shorten the design time to one week or less from an eight-week timeframe, Levi’s says.

 

Few companies are yet selling directly to shoppers off digital renderings like Betabrand, and are instead showing them to store buyers or to factories rather than using traditional samples.

 

Xcel Brands uses them for its own brand of women’s tops and for the company’s Judith Ripka jewelry line. The company, which also makes clothes for Isaac Mizrahi and Halston, will start using them for other brands within the year. CEO Robert D’Loren hopes to start putting 3-D samples on its website next year.

 

Tommy Hilfiger has an interactive touchscreen table where buyers can view every item in the collection and create custom orders. And Deckers Brands, the maker of Ugg boots, is using digital renderings of the classic boot in 10 colors, eliminating the need for 10 prototypes for store buyers. That helps reduce cost and increases speed.

 

Using digital designs also mean the exact specifications for different Levi’s design finishes can be uploaded to a machine that uses lasers to scrape away at jeans. No need to teach employees how to execute a designer’s vision, in a minute and a half the lasers have given the jeans the exact weathered look that took workers wielding pumice stones twenty minutes to half an hour.

 

“Thirty years ago, jeans were only available in three shades — rinse, stonewash and bleach,” said Bart Sights, head of the Levi’s Eureka lab. “Our company now designs 1,000 finishes per season.” Such a long lead time “pushes production and creation too far away.” Levi’s latest technology alleviates this issue, he said.

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Fashion Firms Upend Design Routine to Focus on Speed, Trends

Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was a hot style in sneakers and wanted to quickly jump on the trend for dressier shoes. It put a poll up on its website asking shoppers what style they liked, and based on that had a shoe for sale online in just one week.

 

What web shoppers saw was a 3-D rendering — no actual shoe existed yet. Creating a traditional prototype, tweaking the design and making a sample would have taken six to nine months, and the company might have missed out on the interest in knit.

 

“The web attention span is short,” said Betabrand CEO Chris Lindland. “So if you can develop and create in a short time, you can be a real product-development machine.”

Shoppers looking at the shoe online could examine the peekaboo detail or check out how the sole was put together, as they would from photos of a real product. They don’t get the actual shoes instantaneously — they have to wait a few months. But the use of digital technology in designing and selling means hot trends are still getting to people far faster than under the old system.

 

“Retailers and brands who are embracing this are going to be winners of the future,” said David Bassuk, managing director of consulting group AlixPartners. “This is flipping the business model on its head.”

 

It’s a big cultural change for clothing makers. For decades, the process meant designers sketched ideas on paper, a design got approved, and the sketches went to a factory that created prototypes. Designers and product developers made tweaks and sent prototypes back and forth. Once a final version was approved, it was sent to the factory to be copied for mass production. Getting something from design to a store could take at least a year.

Now, some companies have designers sketching on high-resolution tablets with software that can email 3-D renderings of garments with specifications straight to factories, as better technology makes the images look real and the pressure to get shoppers new products swiftly intensifies. The goal is to reduce to six months or less the time it takes to get to store shelves.

 

Even chains like H&M, which once set the standard for speed by flying in frequent small batches, are realizing that’s not fast enough. H&M, which has seen sales slow, is starting to digitize certain areas of its manufacturing process.

 

For clothing makers and retailers, the shift means design decisions can happen closer to when the fashions actually hit the shelves or website. That means less guessing so stores aren’t stuck with piles of unsold clothes that need to be discounted.

 

The 3-D technology is used in just 2 percent of the overall supply networks, estimates Spencer Fung, group CEO of Li & Fung, which consults with more than 8,000 retailers including Betabrand and 15,000 suppliers globally. But he believes that will change as retailers begin prioritizing speed and realize that cutting down on design time and prototypes saves money.

 

“You can actually essentially create an entire collection before you even cut one garment,” said Whitney Cathcart, CEO of the Cathcart Technologies consulting firm. “So it reduces waste, it reduces lead times, it allows decision making in real time, so the entire process becomes more efficient.”

 

Fung imagines a scenario where a social media post with a celebrity in a red dress gets 500,000 “likes.” An alert goes to a retailer that this item is trending. Within hours, a digital sample of a similar dress is on its website. A factory can start to produce the dress in days.

 

“Consumers see it and they want it now,” says Michael Londrigan of fashion college LIM in New York. “How do you bring it to market so you don’t miss those dollars?”

 

Nicki Rector of the Sonoma Valley area in California bought a pair of Betabrand’s Western-style boots last summer based on the 3-D rendering.

 

“It looked real,” said Rector, who examined the images of the heel and the insoles. She didn’t worry about buying off a digital image, reasoning that if you’re buying online you can’t really know how something’s going to fit until you put it on your feet. She said knowing it was designed from customer input also helped make the wait OK.

 

Betabrand has sold 40,000 pairs of shoes priced from $128 to $168 over the past year, all from digital renderings, and plans to add 15 to 20 such projects this year.

At a Levi Strauss & Co. research and development facility in San Francisco, designers use programs that offer the look of a finished garment and let them make changes like adding pockets quickly, rather than requiring a new prototype. When they’re set, they can send a file to the factory for mass production. Using digital samples can shorten the design time to one week or less from an eight-week timeframe, Levi’s says.

 

Few companies are yet selling directly to shoppers off digital renderings like Betabrand, and are instead showing them to store buyers or to factories rather than using traditional samples.

 

Xcel Brands uses them for its own brand of women’s tops and for the company’s Judith Ripka jewelry line. The company, which also makes clothes for Isaac Mizrahi and Halston, will start using them for other brands within the year. CEO Robert D’Loren hopes to start putting 3-D samples on its website next year.

 

Tommy Hilfiger has an interactive touchscreen table where buyers can view every item in the collection and create custom orders. And Deckers Brands, the maker of Ugg boots, is using digital renderings of the classic boot in 10 colors, eliminating the need for 10 prototypes for store buyers. That helps reduce cost and increases speed.

 

Using digital designs also mean the exact specifications for different Levi’s design finishes can be uploaded to a machine that uses lasers to scrape away at jeans. No need to teach employees how to execute a designer’s vision, in a minute and a half the lasers have given the jeans the exact weathered look that took workers wielding pumice stones twenty minutes to half an hour.

 

“Thirty years ago, jeans were only available in three shades — rinse, stonewash and bleach,” said Bart Sights, head of the Levi’s Eureka lab. “Our company now designs 1,000 finishes per season.” Such a long lead time “pushes production and creation too far away.” Levi’s latest technology alleviates this issue, he said.

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