How is Digital Technology Changing the Fashion Industry?

3D Printed Clothing To Become New Fashion Trend

The Future of Fashion Is 3D Printing Clothes at Home

Various manufacturing industries from prosthetics to car parts are now widely using 3D printing in their production processes. It allows companies to easily change the size, colour, and shape of an object on a computer at no extra cost. So why have only some companies using them? Why has it not been bigger?

Iris Van Herpen 3D modeart clothing

Dita Von Teese, modeled the first fully 3D-printed dress in New York in 2013 – but we have yet to see anything on the high street. Chanel’s autumn 2015/16 collection also featured a 3D printed dress and blazer (shown below). Up until this point, much of the clothing that has been printed in 3D has looked rather eccentric and futuristic (as seen above); yet Chanel’s dress somehow didn’t, fitting in with their usual style of clothing. Will this look soon be in our high street stores and become our everyday clothing?

Chanel's 3D printed suit dress

As of yet, 3D clothing is still featuring in museums as a spectacle, so it appears we are still rather far away from achieving a 3D printer that uses cheap and easy fabric that can be used in our homes. However, many fashion companies are working on it and with 3D printing evolving rapidly in the “last two or three years”, it shouldn’t be long until they do feature in our homes.

“It means you can 3D print your dress to your exact measurements at home.” – Andrew Bolton, Manus x Machina’s curator.

No longer will we be disappointed when we get to a store to buy that perfect top or dress to find it’s not available in our size. You will be able to make the clothing to your exact fit! So whether you can’t find the perfect outfit for a job interview, wedding or party; a 3D printer may be able to help you allowing you to design and make it to your exact fit.

Peleg's 3D printed clothing workshop

Danit Peleg has created two lines of clothing using 3D printers with her first line featuring 5 outfits, taking over 2,000 hours to print. So if 3D printing is to take off then the printers are going to need to become a lot faster just “a jacket took her 300 hours to print”.

Yet, printing it from her own home and using other peoples studios to test out materials she proved that “you do not need to be a part of a company or research group to 3D print wearables” and that you can make fashionable clothing using  3D printers. Whether its sustainable and cost-effective is an ongoing issue, but she will email anyone the clothing line to print – that’s if you have a 3D printer.

Peleg's first 3D clothing line


The Issues with it…

3D printed clothing has featured a lot in museums and art galleries as spectacles but how long until this clothing is in our high-street stores is still unknown. Materials of the clothing is also a key issue; finding comfortable, sustainable and wearable fabric that can be used in a 3D printer is proving to be difficult. Peleg experimented a lot with fabrics to finally find one that worked but it is still not tangible??? enough.

GIF of Peleg 3D printed skirt

“The days when we will be printing high-fashion dresses in our homes are coming—but aren’t quite here yet” – BLOOMSBERG

However, with major footwear companies like NikeAdidas, and New Balance are using 3D printing to evolve and accelerate sneaker design, 3D wearables could be in high street stores sooner than we think.

Finding materials that are flexible, sustainable both in wear and cost-effectiveness is proving to be the biggest challenge yet. Gabi Asfour and his design partners Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil — never meant to create clothing so prone to wardrobe malfunctions. They wanted to do the opposite: stretch clothing to superhero heights.

“They dreamed of 3D-printing textiles that were bulletproof, fireproof, pressure-resistant, or able to trap heat or cold.”

If this had been possible the clothing would have been revolutionary; covered by mass media and produced on a mass scale – helping the armed forces and emergency services in addition to bringing a fun and exciting new form of clothing to our high streets. It is still possible but they need to find 3D materials that can be worn that aren’t so rigid and yet still bulletproof and fireproof…it seems like Gabi Asfour has got his work cut out for the next few years.

If a 3D printer is created that is cost effective and fast and brought on a big scale, what will happen to the traditional high street retailers? Instead of printing clothes from our homes maybe there will be shops dedicated to printing 3D designs and the clothing?…who knows what the future holds but one thing is for sure, there needs to be some improvement in the aesthetics and materials of 3D clothing if it’s to become the new trend.


So…Will We Be Able To Make Clothes From Our Own Homes?

Yes, the technology is there! Apps such as ShareCloth have been created by a computer software company headquartered in Moscow, which will help designers create 3D printed garments. It is just whether you have £400-£3,500 to pay for one to have in your home. There needs to be further developments in making a cost-effective and fast 3D printer that could be brought on a mass scale and feature in most homes. I don’t think 3D printers will be the next must-have technological device for 2018 but maybe in 2020 or the next 5 years, these could be appearing on our Christmas wish lists.

Dita in 3D printed dress

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If you liked this post be sure to check out my next on Virtual Reality: http://www.blogs2017.buprojects.uk/meganhowden/2018/01/20/virtual-changing-rooms-are-finally-here/