3D-printed fashion blends tech and couture
Two young fashion designers are helping the medium go mainstream.
In recent years, 3D-printed innovations have been the talk of the fashion industry. As if wearable tech wasn't enough to shake things up, the power of 3D printing is proving to be a game-changer for its benefits to designers, consumers and, believe it or not, the planet. Innovations in this relatively new technology are enabling designers to make products in smaller quantities, create shorter lead times, and offer easy personalization. There's also less waste of raw materials.
"When you think of constructing with a sewing machine, you’re always thinking in terms of how to use fabric and thread,” fashion designer Melinda Looi, who unveiled the world's first 3D-printed evening gown in April, told Digital Trends. “But with 3D printing, you’re not limited to that.”
At Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld unveiled a futuristic 3D-printed version of the classic Chanel suit to an audience filled with celebrities like actresses Kristen Stewart and Julianne Moore. "The idea is to take the most iconic jacket of the 20th century and make a 21st-century version, which technically was unimaginable in the period when it was born," Lagerfeld told AFP after the show. Lagerfeld said the technique "widens haute couture" and would be used more in the future.
One locale where 3D design has really taken off is in Israel. Below, we take a look at two bright, young Israeli fashion designers who are making a major mark on the international 3D fashion scene.
Noa Raviv, a 2014 graduate of the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in Israel, burst onto the scene last year after she showed (and won!) an entirely 3D-printed collection at the international 3D Printshow in London. The collection incorporated computer-assisted designs, executed by 3D printers, that would be terribly time consuming, if not impossible, for a human to sew. During her in-depth research for the collection, Raviv developed her own textiles and shapes; the 3D parts were created using Stratasys' Object Connex500 multi-material 3D-printing technology.
"These objects cannot be printed, nor produced in reality; they exist only in the virtual space," Raviv said in an artist statement. "The tension between the real and the virtual, between 2D and 3D, inspired me to create this collection."
Raviv's work earned her the prestigious Fini Leitersdorf Excellence Award in recognition of the beauty, imagination and skill demonstrated in her collection.
Danit Peleg, another Israeli student at the Shenkar school, devoted 2,000 hours (is that all?) for her final design project to create a five-piece collection utilizing a 3D printer, from the comfort of her home.
After experimenting unsuccessfully with the hard plastic filaments typically used in consumer 3D printers, Peleg found a strong, flexible variety called FilaFlex. Once she had the material down, she was able to experiment with different types of patterns. "I found Andreas Bastian's Mesostructured Cellular Materials, and by combining his incredible structures, and new ones I created with the same approach, and the flexible materials, I could create lace-like textiles that I could work with – just like cloth," Peleg said in a statement.
But it wasn't easy. Peleg says she had to scale up production to a full-fledged "3D printing farm" in her home to finish the garments in time for their debut. The designer even printed red heels for the models for the show. "I wanted the models to wear 100 percent 3D-printed materials, including the shoes."
So we may not be able to print ourselves out a new fall wardrobe next week, but Peleg proved that 3D printing doesn't have to be elitist, reserved for the most exclusive fashion houses of the world.
"I really enjoyed the fact that I could create without intermediaries; I could design my own textiles and manufacture my own clothes, all from my own home," writes Peleg. "I think this is just the beginning. As technologies evolve, we will soon be all printing our own clothes at home."
Danit Peleg 3D printed her entire collection at home. (Photo: Danit Peleg)
Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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