fast forward future fashion…

Iris-van-Herpen-3D-printed-fashion-1…with 3d printing. image, courtesy of iris van herpen

3d printing is quickly becoming the ish in fashion technology and i’ve been trying to wrap my ahead around what this means in terms of manufacturing for the masses.  indisputably, iris van herpen has quickly made her mark among the firsts to walk an entire printed collection down the runway and while incredibly beautiful in its intricate folds and lattices, the question that burns in my mind, is what does it feel like?  most 3d printers are configured to print plastics for prototypes which are then used to create molds for casting.  well according to stratasys, maker of the objet system of 3d printing:

“the 3D printed skirt and cape were produced using stratasys’ unique objet connex multi-material 3D printing technology, which allows a variety of material properties to be printed in a single build. this allowed both hard and soft materials to be incorporated within the design, crucial to the movement and texture of the piece. “the ability to vary softness and elasticity inspired us to design a “second skin” for the body acting as armor-in-motion; in this way we were able to design not only the garment’s form but also its motion,” explains oxman. “the incredible possibilities afforded by these new technologies allowed us to reinterpret the tradition of couture as “tech-couture” where delicate hand-made embroidery and needlework is replaced by code.”

still confused?  yeah, i’m visual too.  try this great interview which also features footage of the actual creation of her garments:


van herpen creates geiger-esque pieces of future fashion where inspiration trumps function.


3d marketplaces have already sprung up on the web offering artists and product designers online communities in which to showcase their work and offset the cost of the 3d printing by utilizing a shared source like shapeways.  much like spoonflower, shapeways offers itself up as manufacturer by creating made to order product without the minimums.

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dita von teese in an articulated dress printed by shapeways.

while fashion is still in its infancy given the limitations on materials, that doesn’t stop concept artists from envisioning fashion retail in a future when everyone has that oft dreamed of star trek replicator in their own homes.  you enter in your personal specs, dial in a designer and desired garment complete with recommended fabrications and voila, your garment is printed out with a touch of a button.  where industrial designer, joshua harris takes it a step further, is in including a self “composting” feature which allows the user to feed an old garment back into the printer which then breaks down the materials to be re-utilized in future designs.



joshua harris, concept at home apparel printer. images courtesy of taxi

already i have questions with regards to textiles and the incorporation of print design within a garment.  cutouts, lattices and delicate “crochet” work not withstanding, i’ll be eager to see how prints, trims and other added value are incorporated into the technology.  as for brick and mortar retail, those who have vision are already transitioning their stores into outlets reinforcing the brand experience and not just relying upon on the spot purchases.  future retail spaces could become places where the consumer can submerse themselves in the lifestyle experience thus building up further brand loyalty.