Are We Entering The Era of 3D Printed Fashion?

It’s been two years since the queen of burlesque and fierce fashionista Dita Von Teese modelled the first fully-articulated 3D printed dress. The gown was created in collaboration between designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti, gaining a huge popularity within the fashion world.

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Today more and more designers start to experiment with the 3D printing technology and incorporate 3D printed clothing and accessories in their collections. Are we entering the era of 3D printed fashion?

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As far as high-end, lavish collections are concerned, Iris Van Herpen is the living proof that 3D printing and haute couture mesh together perfectly. The Dutch designer is considered to be among the most adventurous and innovative fashion creators. Her 3D printed models are showcased on prestigious runways around the world and even made it to the museum podiums; her exhibition “Transforming fashion” is currently on display in the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

3D printing is indubitably an empowering tool to create bold designs and turn clothing pieces into statements of creativity and individualism. The big question is whether or not 3D printed fashion will step out of the boundaries of avant-garde styles and outrageous price-tags? Well, there are some promising signs.

No more “close enough” fits

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Ladies would agree that finding a perfectly fitting bra can be difficult. Mass-production does not provide enough sizes to cover all body shapes. If you are lucky enough to find the ideal fit in the ”A, B, C, D” selection, it is unlikely that the same size, purchased from another brand would fit in the same way. What if you happen to be in between sizes? Shall we always settle to close enough fits?

Lidewij van Twillert is up to the challenge to change ladies’ experience with lingerie. She is working on her own line of bras at Mesh Lingerie which relies on 3D body scans. The Netherlands-based designer aims to produce bras that are tailored to fit precisely to the unique body shape and size of each customer. How wouldn’t that be comfortable to wear? Mesh Lingerie is still in its pilot stage, but we can’t wait to see it launched into the market and we’ll surely be among the first to try it! 

3D Print your own style

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Part design label and part laboratory, as founder Mary Huang describes it; Continuum is another illustration of a perfect symbiosis between arts and technology.

This online store currently features several ready-to-wear products; futuristic footwear, jewellery and bikini models. Although these designs are amazingly creative and truly beautiful, it is another feature of the platform that wowed us. Continuum allows users to create their own designs, download them and print them on their own 3D printer. They offer an easy- to -use tool on their website that allows everyone to experiment and create their own unique models. If you don’t own a 3D printer the studio will print it for you.

In an interview for Mashable, Huang shares:  “So much of fashion is built on appreciation of craft. Right now we’re in the phase of finding that technology is really beautiful. We live in a digital world.” We could’t agree more with her!

When big brands step in

Leading sportswear and sneaker brands Nike, Adidas and New Balance seem serious about entering the 3D printing industry.

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Eearlier this year Nike released their first 3D printed football cleat. The shoes have a special plate that gives athletes a better grip on the field and helps performance improvement. 

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Following  their footsteps, Adidas announced Futurecraft 3D – a running shoe with a 3D printed midsole which can be customized to fit the specific needs of any customer. 

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New balance didn’t fall behind, offering a sneaker shoe, made from a new elastomeric powder which provide more flexibility, durability and strength.

While all of the products mentioned above are still in their early stages of development, one thing is clear – they are a real statement of intent. 3D printed can be so much more than unrealistic high-end fashion designs. 3D printing technology can deliver affordable, one of a kind, perfectly-tailored clothing items, footwear and jewellery. Doesn’t this sound wonderful?