Over the last year, the face of fashion has taken a turn toward technology. Where 3D accessories became commonplace this year, 3D fabric printing moved in on a more permanent level. In the world of fashion design, especially true for couture, apparel design was a very hands on process. At least, that was the case until now. Though 3D printing isn't "new" by any stretch of the imagination, it is fairly new to the fashion game. We've been using 3D to create things for some time. You may even own a few pieces of jewelry that were designed on a computer instead of with a jeweler's fine hand at crafting. At one point, your ring was more than likely made of up numbers and pixels. So, it shouldn't surprise you that 3D printing took a step forward and is now being used in fashion design to create handbags, garments, jewelry, and shoes.
Designers and Brands of Note
Some notable designers are already creating 3D works of art in their fashion designs. While some are incorporating 3D printed elements into the designs, others are creating fully developed 3D printed garments. Looking at what designers have already started developing, just imagine the possibilities for the future.
Iris Van Herpen
One of the first designers to fully utilize 3D printing technology into their creations, Iris Van Herpen's work is nothing short of astonishing. With her craftsmanship and innovative design, she will leave you speechless from the start. She uses technology at the very core of her masterful creative process. In her collections, you will find that her pieces look as though they came straight from her imagination.
Karl Lagerfeld used 3D printing to give a futuristic take on the Chanel suit. Instead of making complete 3D printed pieces, he merges the 3D pieces with the traditional fabrics to make extraordinary garments. About 12 looks were designed using laser sintering, which uses lasers to melt layers of materials to create 3D objects. 3D printed grids form the base for the iconic tweed jackets, where they were later hand embroidered. These techniques would likely blow Coco Chanel's mind, were she still alive. Expect to see more of the blending of classic fabrics with 3D printed materials in the future.
Maybe the most functional use of 3D printing to date, Adidas's Futurecraft series uses 3D printing to create tailored and molded soles to fit an individual's foot. The aim is to match exact contours and pressure points to set the athlete up for the best running experience. A shoe that feels more like a second skin is a total game changer.
Pringle of Scotland
Pringle of Scotland collaborated with material scientist Richard Beckett to create a collection incorporating 3D printed fabrics. They used selective laser sintering (SLS) to create tiny nylon parts, which allowed the material to still move like traditional fabric. They then hand stitched the printed parts into the knitwear, creating one of a kind garments.
Brian Oknyansky shoes are as much a work of art as they are an innovation in design. What makes this designer so unique though is the use of all sorts of different materials. From eco-friendly bio-plastic to metal, this designer has fully embraced 3D printing into their manufacturing process. Another incredible aspect this designer brings with 3D printing is customization options for the customer.
While 3D printing can lose that 'artisan touch', the possibilities incite pure excitement. As Karl Lagerfeld said, "What keeps couture alive, is to move with the times. If it stays like sleeping beauty in the woods in an ivory tower, you can forget it. The women who buy couture today are not the bourgeoises of the past, they are young, modern women."
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Photo: Visual News