Ok, THIS is Cool: The Latest on How Designers Are Printing (Yes, Printing) Shoes, Dresses and More!


Will needles and thread become a thing of the past? With the way technology is headed, the answer is: maybe. There has been much talk of late about the advent of 3D printers to produce design objects, but now fashion designers are getting into the game of printing dresses, shoes and jewelry. While 3D printers (actual printers that print using resin instead of ink on paper) aren’t available at your local Office Max quite yet, innovators and influencers in the fashion world are experimenting. A look at some of the coolest results so far:

At her fifth haute couture collection show in Paris last week, designer Iris van Herpen teamed up with architect Rem D. Koolhaas, co-founder of United Nude, to create this mindblowing, sculptural 3D printed footwear, above. The shoes, inspired by banyan trees, were so elaborate and wild, they looked as if they had organically sprouted from the models’ feet.
“The hardest part was the figuring out of the materials and 3D printing techniques to be used,” Koolhaas said. “Fashion is always a race against time and 3D printing allows you to move fast. The promise for the future of this technology is very powerful.”

And Dita Von Teese was recently photographed wearing the world’s first fully articulated 3D-printed dress by designers Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti. Check out the mini-documentary of the making of the dress, below.

We’re excited to see what legendary British milliner Stephen Jones recently comes up with for a 3D-printed hat, which he announced recently.

The appeal of 3D-printing technology lies in its speed and convenience. With a printer in the corner of the studio, designers no longer have to rely on costly sampling procedures—and the wait of shipping pieces back and forth to factories.

“The fashion designers kind of gave up the fashion business once on the manufacturing side because out factories couldn’t retool fast enough, etc., and a lot of it was done offshore,” Living in Digital Times founder Robin Raskin told WWD. “I think technology is going to stop mass production to some degree. They’re learning how to 3D-print cloth.”

So, what if you want to play around with 3D printing at home? How much will a personal printer run you? On the more moderate end, there’s the popular Cubify system, which prints smaller items and is priced starting at $1,299. On the higher end of consumer-grade models, prices can run up to around $4,000. But just like any other popular new technology, the promise of more affordable options lies just beyond the horizon—a Kickstarter project for The Buccaneer, a $347 3D printer, reached its funding goals on June 29th! We’re totally getting our hands on one of those when they come out… and printing a bunch of brooches. Or something.


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