Episode 11: Danit Peleg, fashion designer

Forget shopping. Are we ready to download and 3D print our own clothes? Danit Peleg thinks so.

The guest: Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg, a graduate of Israel's Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, has created the world's first 3D printed fashion line without the use of a single sewing machine. She whipped up a homemade video about her unique collection and it went viral overnight. Soon, she was being asked to give a Ted Talk and the calls haven't stopped since.

The gist: That initial burst of publicity led to stories about her work in the New York Times, Forbes, Wired Magazine and even Vogue just to name a few of the many media outlets that fawned over her fashion. In today's episode, we chat with Danit from her studio in Tel Aviv to find out why she created the 3D printed fashion line, what inspires her and what she has planned next.

Further reading:

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Danit Peleg gives TED Talks about merging fashion with technology. Danit Peleg gives TED Talks about merging fashion with technology. (Photo: TED)

Transcript

Benyamin: On this episode of Our Friend from Israel.

Tyra: This is the first fashion collection made completely at home, with 3D printers! Oh wow!

Benyamin: That was fashion icon Tyra Banks on her day time talk show introducing the world to the work of Danit Peleg. The young Israeli designer had created the world's first 3D printed fashion line without the use of a single sewing machine.

Danit: I studied fashion design, I was, my final project for a fashion school and I decided to 3D print it instead of sewing it.

Tyra: And of course you got an A.

Joe: Of course! Look at this!

Tyra: I mean, an A plus, plus I'm hoping. Did you?

Danit: Yes, I did.

Tyra: Okay that's what I thought!

Benyamin: That initial burst of publicity led to stories about her work in the New York Times, Forbes, Wired Magazine and even Vogue just to name a few of the many media outlets that fawned over her fashion. At the time, she was a recent graduate of Israel's Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, and she was already making a name for herself. In today's episode, we chat with Danit from her studio in Tel Aviv to find out why she created the 3D printed fashion line, what inspires her and what she has planned next. Stay tuned.

Benyamin: Welcome to Our Friend from Israel, a podcast brought to you by fromthegrapevine.com I'm your host Benyamin Cohen, and each week we'll have a conversation with an intriguing Israeli. They'll come from all walks of life. Actors, artists, athletes, archeologists, and other news makers. In today's episode, we chat with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg.

Ilana: Stretch across a hanger.

Benyamin: Hello this is Benyamin Cohen and welcome to the show today. I am joined by my colleague Ilana Strauss here in the studio, how are you today?

Ilana: I'm fantastic, how are you?

Benyamin: Good! Good, good, good. So you are joining me in the studio today because you conducted today's interview with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg.

Ilana: Indeed.

Benyamin: Before we get to today's episode with Danit I wanted to just chat with you for a minute here. So are you big into fashion?

Ilana: Like if you asked the average person on the street like “what is popular in fashion?” They will 100 percent of the time know more than I will. But I do... yeah. But I do like wearing really strange things, so in that sense I find myself identifying with really weird fashion characters. Like... wasn't there, in Zoolander you know like all the fashion people in Zoolander wear just like the weirdest stuff.

Benyamin: Right.

Ilana: So like in that sense I'm ...(laughing) I used to wear a tie as a headband for a while, just like you know? Multipurpose.

Benyamin: Speaking of people who think outside the box when it comes to fashion, hoe was your interview with Danit?

Ilana: It was really interesting... I sort of would've imagined that when she started doing all this 3D printing people would immediately be like “oh, wow! That's such a crazy new thing”. But I was really surprised to find out that when she started, people kind of had no idea what she was doing.

Benyamin: So one day she's just working on this school project, then the next day she's like you know this famous fashion designer?

Ilana: Yeah, well its like she had to do it all on her own. Because she was a fashion student but its not anybody, any of her professors had experience doing 3D printing. And apparently a lot of them just could not understand why she was doing what they're doing.

Benyamin: (laughing)

Ilana: She told me that one of her professors was, he wouldn't understand what you know, he didn't accept what she was doing until she was in the New York Times or something.

Benyamin: Wow, wow, very cool. I am excited to hear this interview, so without any further ado I am happy to present the interview Ilana did with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg.

Danit: (laughs) its like after noon.

Ilana: Yeah.

Danit: But all good, really good.

Ilana: So I guess we could just launch into it. You make 3D fashion, which is super cool. I know you started doing this in college, I was wondering what... do you remember the moment when you had the idea to make a 3D garment?

Danit: Sure, so everything, yes, started because I was working on my final project for fashion school. Two years earlier I went for an internship in New York.

Ilana: Oh awesome.

Danit: At a really amazing fashion house in Chinatown, and I worked with them on their collection which was really innovative and had two dresses printed in 3D. And that was the first time I ever saw 3D printed garments. But I did have a few issues with them, because they were using this big industrial printers and the material were stiff and breakable and it was super expensive. It was something like 20,000 dollars for a dress.

Ilana: Okay.

Danit: So I came back to Israel and then I had it in my mind, that's when I realized, okay I have to do something with this technology because I really love the idea that the designers could design the dresses and create it exactly the same as we saw on the computer. As a student I always like to create my own textiles and I always combine fashion technologies in my works so it includes just another approach that I really wanted to research and learn more. So that's basically where the idea came from or like the inspiration.

Ilana: Great.

Danit: And then when I hd to create a collection of five garments I said “okay I have to test these printers” but I to find better solutions for all of the problems that I had with it. And that's when the research actually started.

Ilana: When you first proposed this idea to other students, to your teachers, how did they react?

Danit: (laughs) Great question, so basically because I was always using different kind of fashion technologies like knitting machines and laser cutting and I always had crazy stuff going on. So no one thought[inaudible 00:06:50]everyone thought “okay its just one of her things” you know? And my professors the one who works with me closely didn't really get it, I have to say, until it was published on the New York Times or something. That's when he's like “oh, okay now I understand.”

Ilana: When did you kind of realize that this was really gonna catch on, because it sounds like at first when you were doing this it just felt like you know, another of your unusual projects? When did it, yeah.

Danit: So I had six printers running in my house, everything I created from my first collection was happening from my apartment in Tel Aviv. My husband, then my boyfriend he's like “okay this is so insane you're like printing clothes from our house, you have to document it, it's sick, it's so different, it's so cool”. And then he was starting to see if people were actually printing clothes or not or if anyone done it before. He did this huge research about it and also I couldn't learn from anyone online because there was nothing like that. So he was like “okay I have to document it, you have to explain it, you have to continue this project” because mostly fashion student they do incredible things like beautiful collections, but then, they're so scared for someone to copy them, or they're so scared to share it or you know then they just lock it in their closet or something and then there's no continue to it. And he's like “okay we have to create a video, we have to do something, put it on Facebook, I dunno”.

Danit: So we created this super low budget video from my studio. Our friend was the producer, the model was my neighbor in Tel Aviv, it was just like a group work. We posted on Facebook and we expected for like 10,000 views I dunno like something, like a few people to see it. Then it went completely viral and got something like five million views in like two weeks. Then TED called me, and was like we want you to do a TED talk. (applause).

Danit: In the past few months, I've been traveling for weeks at a time with only one suitcase of clothes. One day, I was invited to an important event and I wanted to wear something special and new for it. So I looked through my suitcase and I couldn't find anything to wear, I was lucky to be at the technology conference that day, and I had access to 3D printers. So I quickly designed a skirt on my computer and I loaded a file on the printers, just printing the pieces overnight. The next morning I just took all the pieces, assemble it together in my hotel room and this is actually the skirt that I'm wearing right now. And then you know... the committee the organization of the Paralympics games, the Olympics that was in Brazil a year ago, two years ago contacted me and as like “we want you to make a dress for the opening ceremony!” And I was like “okay, yeah, of course ill do all of that” and then, that's what happened, it was really just viral... tons of press all around the world from, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue Magazine, everyone wrote about it.

Danit: Also, thanks to Fashionista which is really big fashion blog where after we created the video then my husband he asked me “where do you want, who do you want to give the exclusive to it?”

Ilana: Oh.

Danit: And I was like “exclusive? For this video? Are you serious?” and then he said “yeah, I'm totally serious, who's the best magazine you want to show it first” and I said Fashionista because you know the editor of Vouge reads Fashionista. And they answered! And they wanted the story, and it was one of the most shared stories on all time on Fashionista.

Ilana: Oh man.

Danit: Until today, yeah, then I got a letter from the editor like, “wow what you did is incredible! We got so many shared of like 60,000 sharers for this tiny article. Yeah, so it was just viral. So everything thanks to the internet. (laughs) Thanks for the idea that I was open about it and shared it, I learned the power of sharing your thoughts and ideas. Never know where its going to end up. That's why I'm such a believer in open source.

Ilana: Was there ever a moment in all this where you were just like, “no way!” there's no way

Danit: (laughs) I'm still doing it, still like, “no way!” I mean, its totally turned my career, I can't really explain how I couldn't see it coming. Like totally, I guess like every day there's something new, exciting, and its been like three years already that still my inbox is getting a lot of such and interesting ideas, requests for collaborations and projects and I'm just very, very, thankful for everything that happens like that.

Benyamin: Looking to learn about more Israeli fashion designers? Head on over to fromthegrapevine.com, there you'll find photos from Tel Aviv fashion week, you'll find a story about Rosa Sinisky who takes her Instagram followers aroundthe globe to the worlds best fashion shows, and you'll meet a 14 year old Israeli who became the new face of Dior. All that and more can be found at fromthegrapevine.com.

Benyamin: You'll notice that every single podcast on the planet asks you to rate and review them on Itunes. Why do they do that? Well heres the answer -- the more reviews and ratings that show gets the higher the show winds up on the iTunes charts, which in turn helps more people discover the show. So if you're enjoying this podcast, please, head on over to iTunes and leave us a rating and a review. We greatly appreciate it.

Benyamin: And now, back to today's interview with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg.

Ilana: What are your hopes for technology? What do you think technology might do really positive for everybody?

Danit: I think generally, technology is growing because we want to find solutions for things in our life. And you can see it really, so much in the Israel or in Tel Aviv which is where I live. There's technology, 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 and I think a good example is what my husband is doing, he's working for a really amazing tech company who try to reduce the number of accidents. They use technology, a really easy app and that's how they can save you from doing accidents. I think solving problem like that, that's not any other way was able to be accomplished. I think that's when technology becoming something important and great.

Danit: But when it comes to fashion, (laughs).

Ilana: Yeah, yeah, right.

Danit: When it comes to fashion there is so many benefits with using 3D printing or you know generally using, combining, technology to our environment or to our lives. So that's why I'm very curious about doing what I'm doing.

Ilana: Wait, can you tell me a bit more about how 3D printing could help the environment, that's...

Danit: Yeah.

Ilana: Walk me through that.

Danit: Sure, so there are a few big benefits to use 3D printing. First of all, now I can email you my dress, that is everything I do is digital so it's really easy for me to transfer the information or the dress from one side to another so no need shipping anymore. Everything happen on demand, and once you get my design to your email you can easily change the size, or you can customize it so it will fit exactly to you, you can write your name on it, you can do all of these changes really easily. Customization is something that is really easy to do, then when you send to print the dress there is no waste to it. Because when I program my designs and then send them to print the sleeve or the front of the dress, meant to be the front of the dress or the back of the dress. I come to the point then when I print clothes I have zero waste, because everything I produce is meant to be something in this garment.

Danit: The fun part the really incredible part about it is that I can recycle my designs, so there is already today in 2018 there is a machine that you can fit on your desktop and it's a sort of blender, where you can just all the t-shirt or your old top that you printed or even just left overs into this machine and it will create a new filaments, the new material out of it. And then you can print again, you can use it for a new print.

Ilana: Whoa.

Danit: So there's, yeah.

Ilana: Wait... it's like a blender for clothes?

Danit: Right, it's a blender for everything when it comes to 3D printing.

Ilana: Oh, okay that's if its all the same material?

Danit: Right, yeah, yeah, yeah. You just need to divide them, you need to put the same material in the... so when I... what I use today is a sort of a rubber, its very basic. Compared to how I see the future materials with 3D printing which will feel more and more like cotton or silk or you know leather or from our everyday use. But, already today I can recycle my design and create new filaments like this new rubber and create new top or new dresses out of it. So I find it very fascinating and I also loved the idea that I don't have any inventory when I sell my designs or when I create them I can just show you a simulation, like a 3D simulation. And you can choose if you want to have these jackets or dress and then ill produce it one by one.

Ilana: Oh.

Danit: So for young designers are not to have huge inventory, I think that could be really important. But also, imagine in a few years when you have this printer in your house you'll be able to go to your favorite designer and see the latest design from him and if you like you'll buy the file. I hope that this will reduce the huge mass productions that these companies create for us, without even knowing if we're gonna buy it or not. Sometimes we don't like it and we don't buy it and the leftovers, and this is something not everyone knows the fashion industry is making a lot of pollutions and a lot of waste is going under ground at the end of the day. They don't know what to do with all the massive clothing lines they are creating that people don't buy.

Ilana: Oh, right.

Danit: I think that could be an alternative, a real alternative for people to choose what they want to have and what they want to wear, and what they want to print for themselves.

Ilana: I was kinda thinking about that, if you have fashion designs that are just sort of coded on a computer it seems like people could get those pretty easily. It would be really hard to.

Danit: Right.

Ilana: To keep owning them.

Danit: To protect.

Ilana: Yeah.

Danit: Yeah, I guess its really good to compare to what happen with the music industry. Because, we used to go and buy cds which is really physical, and now you can just download music right? Directly to your phone, and most of the time you can just download it. And sometimes you buy it on Itunes or you pay for music. And I guess fashion learned a lot, and today's fashion is very physical. You can't really download clothes or you can't really email a dress, unless you're using my technology or something similar to what I do.

Danit: All of my clothes are digital and I think there is, I think we learn a lot from the music industry and when it comes to 3D printing a lot of companies are working to secure the files and help the designers to actually sell them and protect them. There are companies working on the idea that If you buy my design, if you buy my dress I can limit you to use only one material when you print it, I can limit you to how many times you're going to download it. There is a new movement, new opportunities when it comes to these files because you can protect them.

Danit: And then on the other end, its really fun not to protect them.

Ilana: (laughs)

Danit: And give them for open source, and see what happen with them and where does it end up and to see for young designers that can be an incredible opportunity to create a dress that is like a viral dress or a viral t-shirt.

Ilana: Oh, right.

Danit: And uploading your design and immediately having millions of people download and use it. The same thing with YouTube, if you want to be expose, you will share your music on YouTube and you will see and let people to hear it for free. And if you are already famous and you have your brand, you will be able to sell it. You know? It's really, there are two, a few approaches for it.

Ilana: That kind of gets to a deep sort of debate within all this. Should everything should kind of be open source? Or should people keep trying to sort of protect their stuff? What do you feel about all that?

Danit: I generally believe in open source, I feel like stuff in our lives is becoming more and more open. When you want to hear music, usually you would go to YouTube or something and not necessarily you go immediately and buy it. And I think that's... the music industry didn't die right?

Ilana: Right.

Danit: It's still alive and kicking making a lot of money out of it and profit. And the singers still have, still can live. I feel like that's the direction we're going in our lives, everything more open and more and more shared and you get benefits out of, you get your profit or benefits out of the idea of having a lot of people use it. And not necessarily by selling the actual thing.

Ilana: Right.

Danit: For me I'm a big believer with open source and all of that. I'm planning to open some of my designs soon, and next to it I will also sell ones. I will sell files for a few dollars and give the people the option to have the advanced users. If you're really interested of it you will get more things out of paying a few dollars for it.

Ilana: I can see people wanting to modify stuff too right? They'll get your design and then they kind of scramble it up and change things and make their own.

Danit: Exactly, yeah. And I love this idea, I love the idea that you can be part of the creation and take it to a new direction. I can also control if I don't want you to do it, I can control how to lock it, and you'll be able to just make this dress exactly like that or I can give you the option to remix it, and change it and put your personality into it. I think, I'm really curious to see what happen to the fashion industry when everyone will be able to just design you know and custom made their own and remix the designs I think it's gonna be really exciting time for the fashion industry.

Benyamin: If you're enjoying this interview with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg, you'll also want to check out our recent episode with Sarah Berkowitz. She's a home cook who has produced over more than 400 recipes for our website fromthegrapevine.com.

Sarah: You know I had an interest in psychology since I was very littler, I loved the idea of nurturing people and helping them fix their problems and I've really discovered that food has a way of doing that. The act of eating and cooking for someone is very intimate, I find that it created a strong bond. It's the kind of gift when you give someone homemade food, or when you cook for someone it really strengthens your bond. It's more than just food.

Benyamin: Check out that previous episode at ourfriendfromisrael.com and while you're there, sign up for our Israeli kitchen newsletter to receive Sarah's recipes in your email each week.

Benyamin: And now, back to today's episode with Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg.

Ilana: Okay, in your various world travels, what's sort of the strangest thing that's happened to you?

Danit: (laughs) Besides jet lags.

Ilana: Besides jet lag, yeah.

Danit: You know it's always such an amazing thing. First of all to work with people from different cultures, like to create all these events is not only like to go there. There is like a process around it, so its always fascinating to see and to meet people from different places around the world. I would say, the strangest thing was when I went to Sri Lanka, Mercedes Benz fashion week Sri Lanka and I presented my collection there.

Danit: First of all, to see runway full with Sari, their traditional outfit was such an amazing thing. Also, to see everyone walking like barefoot and backstage, I dunno to see another way people react to fashion, they were so loose and easy going. If you go to fashion week in New York, everyone is with heels and ready to show off. But there, everyone were just enjoy the creation side of it and I really, really liked it.

Danit: You have to place your clothes on the floor, it was really different and I actually liked it.

Ilana: Wait, you had to place your clothes on the floor? What do you mean?

Danit: In order to dress the models you didn't have racks or stuff like that, it was a real runway, like a serious event for them in Sri Lanka in the middle of nowhere. Having a fashion show there was very, very unique.

Ilana: Okay, interesting. I'm just thinking if you go around the world meeting a lot of fashion designers. You can kind of see how different cultures create things differently. I'm wondering if culture has anything to do with how people design things.

Danit: Totally yes, and this is one of the things that I love about fashion. You can totally see what's going on in our world and what happened on news or what happen in this country and then see the inspiration or see the result in the collections.

Ilana: Whoa.

Danit: And I find it fascinating. A good example would be what happened in the economic in 2008? I don't know it's just an example that jumped in my head and then you saw a lot of the fashion designers use their clothes were with the holes in them. It was all just looking like messy and luxury brands I'm talking about.

Ilana: Yeah.

Danit: Is creating super dresses with holes and stuff, and that was the inspiration or the reason it was happening because what happened to the economic system in this year. And it's still like that, every time you can see a new collection on the runway there's always a story behind it and usually it's really affected of what happened, of something that is from our everyday news. Its very relevant to what happened to the society that year or that time. So its like a translation to what happened.

Danit: When you see it when it comes to different countries or cultures it's, I feel like it's the same. It's like that. If you come to Israel for example and you see how people are dressed up and it's very, like if you go to Tel Aviv for example, which is a beach city you'll see people with flip flops walking around, very chill, very casual, very, its like a beach city.

Danit: But if you go to other places you'll see, I don't know like Jerusalem for example, you'll see different way of people dressed up. Even if in this small, country you can see so many different way people present themselves and yeah, I do think that what happened in the news or what happened in the world is affected what wear right after. And on the other hand I do feel like we're all, like if you go to Europe or if you go to the U.S. there is more and more similarity between us.

Ilana: Right.

Danit: The whole world is becoming more and more alike on our everyday dresses. Its hard to say where this person specifically is coming from. I guess social media is what happened this way or the globalization, like we're trying to be one. It's easy to connect to people from around the world so you know how people react in different places and you're trying to either copy them, or trying to be the same or you know.

Danit: For example, here in Israel, we're very, very similar to the U.S. culture. We're very Americans, every year it's becoming more and more close to what happened in places in the U.S. I don't know if we're trying to copy, we're just very influenced of what happened in the U.S. I don't have any explanation for it. Everything in culture becoming because of something that we're experience also in fashion.

Ilana: Thanks. It was lovely talking to you.

Danit: Thank you so much for being... interviewing me and you know having me today. I really, really enjoy it. And I hope everyone will find it interesting and you can all keep in touch and join me on social media or find me on my website at danitpeleg.com and be in touch.

Ilana: Thanks. Bye.

Danit: Have a beautiful day today.

Benyamin: Our Friend from Israel is a production of fromthegrapevine.com. Extra notes and a transcript of today's episode can be found at ourfriendfromisrael.com. Our show is produced but Paul Kasko, editorial help from Jamie Bender and Ilana Strauss. Our Head engineer is Everett Adams. Our theme music is by Haim Mazar, a Hollywood film composer who grew up in Israel.

Benyamin: You can visit out website at fromthegrapevine.com to find more episodes of the show. Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. Feel free to leave is a review there. When you do, it helps others discover Our Friend from Israel. I'm your host, Benyamin Cohen and until next time, we hope you have a great week.

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