Israeli designer Noa Raviv won the award for "Best Fashion Designer of the Year" for her 3D graduate-collection at the international "3D PrinShow" event. Israeli designer Noa Raviv won the award for "Best Fashion Designer of the Year" for her 3D graduate-collection at the international "3D PrinShow" event. Israeli designer Noa Raviv won the award for "Best Fashion Designer of the Year" for her 3D graduate-collection at the international "3D PrinShow" event. (Photo: Noa Raviv)

How Israel became tops in fashion tech

You can 3D-print your own jacket, or virtually 'try on' clothes before you buy them. And much, much more.

If technology is doing its job, it's finding innovative solutions to the world's most common problems. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of fashion tech, where 3D printing, artificial intelligence and showstopping couture converge.

And its unofficial headquarters? Israel.

Over the years, the country has become a major player in global innovation. It's even being called the next Silicon Valley. So it's only natural that the city's young up-and-comers would deftly take two of its greatest passions – fashion and technology – and merge them together.

But it's the creativity and ingenuity with which these two passions are merging that makes Israel uniquely suited for its leading spot in the fashion tech space. Case in point: this crazy idea that we might just be 3D-printing our own clothes at home one day.

"I think generally, technology is growing because we want to find solutions for things in our life," Danit Peleg, who recently unveiled the world's first commercially available 3D-printed jacket, said during a recent "Our Friend From Israel" podcast. "And you can see it really, so much in Israel or in Tel Aviv, which is where I live ... Everyone is working for startups and everyone is trying to solve problems and everyone is doing something to create better life for us. I like technology when it's actually doing something positive."

Peleg, a graduate of the prestigious Shenkar College of Engineering and Design – where a large portion of Israeli fashion designers honed their craft – spent years researching fabrics, patterns, printers and structures for her one-of-a-kind line. She completed her first 3D-printed collection, which included shoes to match each outfit, as part of her final project at Shenkar.

She's now considered a pioneer in the 3D-printed fashion movement.

Danit Peleg is on the forefront of 3D printed fashion. Danit Peleg is on the forefront of 3D printed fashion. (Photo: Danit Peleg)

While the functionality might not be commercially available just yet, the ease at which we'll be able to manufacture our own clothes one day is thrilling. Peleg makes a simpler case for incorporating 3D printing into our fashion repertoire sooner than later. "Right now, I'm able to email you a jacket and if you don't know how to sew, you can just put it together from your house."

Indeed, the union of fashion and tech has been fruitful, and it's even allowed us to learn more about the world at large. A team of computer scientists at Cornell-Technion, a joint university system between Cornell University in New York and Israel's Technion Institute, are using what they call "deep learning methods" to analyze fashion around the world. The idea is to create a treasure trove of sorts to unlock clues about a person's location, era, culture and socioeconomic status.

Cornell Tech researchers are using AI to develop cultural anthropology tools. Cornell Tech researchers are using artificial intelligence to develop cultural anthropology tools. (Photo: Cornell University)

"For example, where in the world is wearing hats more common? At what time of the year? Which colors are more popular in summer versus winter?" said Kavita Bala, a computer science professor at Cornell. "Our approach produces a first-of-its-kind analysis of global and per-city fashion choices and spatio-temporal trends."

So where does all this jaw-dropping innovation leave you, the consumer? How about the ability to virtually "try on" clothes before you buy them, thereby eliminating the need to shop in physical stores altogether?

Yes, this one's really happening. The Israeli-based company MySizeId, which allows customers to use their smartphone to record their measurements and create a secure online profile of their stats, just announced announced it is partnering with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), an internationally recognized college for design, fashion, art, communications, and business in New York City, to provide its innovative mobile measurement solutions to students.

The garment's inseam, chest circumference and other important dimensions can then be shared with partnered retailers to ensure that no matter the manufacturer or size chart, people will always get the perfect fit. In theory, MySizeId can help shoppers tell the difference between a size medium at J.Crew vs. a size medium at Banana Republic or how sizes translate from a U.S. store vs. a European store.

Adding ease to the online shopping experience is sure to boost sales from this already growing medium. In 2017, 21 percent of annual apparel sales came from website purchases, and 76% from in-store purchases, according to a report from Retail Dive.

Apps like MySizeID, according to cofounder Billy Pardo, present "an opportunity to change the way consumers shop for clothes online and preempt the aggravation involved in receiving items that don’t fit."

According to some estimates, more than half of clothes bought online are returned due to sizing issues. According to some estimates, more than half of clothes bought online are returned due to sizing issues. (Photo: Ariwasabi / Shutterstock)

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How Israel became tops in fashion tech
You can 3D-print your own jacket, or virtually 'try on' clothes before you buy them. And much, much more.