3D Fashion 

February 9, 2016

While 3D printing is nothing new, it was invented in 1984 by Charles ‘Chuck’ Hull, its influence on the fashion industry is.

3D printers are becoming more and more mainstream and available for personal use. the past couple of years or so, 3-D printing has become one of those things that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue–every day a new article comes out about some crazy new thing you can print and now it’s starting to become relevant in conversations about fashion. Dita von Teese made headlines when she wore the world’s first fully-articulated 3-D printed gown, designed by designer Michael Schmidt and architect Francis Bitonti, at a fashion event back in March. Francis Bitonti and Michael Schmidt collaborated with Shapeways to produce a 3D-printed gown.The results were beautiful. Comprising of 3,000 articulated joints and dotted with 12,000 Swarovski crystals, Dita’s gown fitted her like a glove. It was art. It isn’t wearable, but it suggests that 3D printing has the finesse necessary to break into an industry known for its attention to quality craft. 

 In 2011 TIME Magazine named Iris van Herpen’s 3D printed dress one of the 50 Best Inventions of the year 2011 . Iris van Herpen is part of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and known for pushing the boundaries of materials and design within the fashion industry. 

Iris van Herpen spoke about how 3D printing could possibly fill up the gap between Haute Couture, which is costume made and perfectly tailored for one single person, and the mass produced and limited sizing within Ready-to-Wear. Everybody could have their owns body scanned and just order clothes that fit perfectly.” 3D scanners and printers could revolutionise the way we order out clothes in the future.

Not only would this revolutionise fashion for the consumer but also for the manufacturer. At the moment production cost are based on the amount of items a designer produces, but with 3D printing this will no longer be the case in the future. The manufacturer cost are zero until a customer orders a garment. Which also leaves room for customisation, for instance in sizing, colour and materials.  

Traditional embroidery techniques, would require at least three weeks of work and a dedicated team in order to realize an item such as the skirt. [With 3D printing] you don’t need any mold, your pattern is directly made layer after layer following the 3D file thanks to selective laser sintering or SLS. Of course there are design constraints, but you can substantiate what you want very quickly and without the costly stage of sampling. The weight of the prints, for the same aesthetic result, are way less heavy than the embroideries.

Although 3D printing materials have evolved from simple plastics to a wide range of materials like nylons, wood, salt, cement and even printing food. Printing silks, cottons and other natural fibers would be the next step in 3d printing for the fashion industry.

At IT’s Media Lab’ professor Neri Oxman already has started researching the construction of silk by researching the way silkworm build their cocoons. Most 3D printers create the same simple structure layer upon layer, but silkworm make their cocoons softer inside and stronger outside by using different patterns and amounts of silk fiber. Neri Oxman from MIT’s Mediated Matter research group explains that a silkworm “varies the properties of silk according to function and can be considered the biological equivalent of a mobile 3D multi-material printer.”


The Adrenaline Dress is composed of 3D printed panels and senses when adrenaline levels get high and mimics the fight-or-flight mode, extending the wearer’s sensory system to form an imposing shape.

While established fashion brands are a tad slow in beginning to experiment with, the technology itself is growing rapidly. As a business, it’s growing rapidly as well and is already available online.

The implications of 3-D printing on the fashion industry cannot be understated. It has the potential to do great things: create shorter lead times for designers, offer the ability to produce things in smaller quantities, and create easy personalization. On the flip side, 3-D printing could render many jobs in the manufacturing industry obsolete, as well as present some tricky legal issues surrounding copyright. 

The above amazing and intricate work proves that Fashion and 3D Printing make a deadly duo. However at this point, It is still somehow made for editorial photo-shoots and runways, and not still really adapted for real life.

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  • A
    Reply Aria on February 12, 2016 says;

    Oh.. Tis fashion now!!! I’m loving it! Awesome

  • K
    Reply Katherine on February 12, 2016 says;

    3d Printing is awesome! Your last post and this post is very good. Lots of information gained

  • A
    Reply Alejandra on February 12, 2016 says;

    Love it

  • J
    Reply Jasmine on February 12, 2016 says;

    Brilliant post! 3D in fashion is awesome. I always keep hearing and seeing about 3d printing in technology, but now i’m seeing in fashion. Put into great use i suppose

  • J
    Reply J. Elliott on February 12, 2016 says;

    AMAZING! love it

  • A
    Reply Abbie Haynes on February 12, 2016 says;

    Super cool! A very tedious process, turned out beautifully

  • E
    Reply Emily on February 12, 2016 says;

    Soft, wearable 3D printed fabric is around the corner, I’m sure.

  • T
    Reply Tamika on February 12, 2016 says;

    This is AMAZING! I love the black dress. It will be interesting to see what artists will do with 3D-printing and fashion in the future as technology develops.

  • I
    Reply Imogen Bermingham on February 12, 2016 says;


  • A
    Reply Agnus D on February 12, 2016 says;

    Absolutely Beautiful ! Well done ! Love it.

  • j
    Reply jules on February 12, 2016 says;

    very cool

  • H
    Reply Heiða Hallmundsdóttir on February 12, 2016 says;

    Mind Blowing stuff!

  • P
    Reply Puja Santosh on February 12, 2016 says;

    Thanks for sharing this P. Its awesome

  • K
    Reply Kasia on February 12, 2016 says;

    Shaping a new era i fashion I guess

  • J
    Reply Jessica Grant on February 12, 2016 says;

    Thanks for the article. I’m wondering what kind of 3D printer would be available in the consumer grade side. Maybe many will just print at home by getting designs online.. But again, need to figure out if it will be cost effective.
    Excellent article though. Thanks for sharing this

  • L
    Reply Leela Harris on February 12, 2016 says;

    That’s the pros and cons of 3D printers. You can print anything and it can be used right away as long as it doesn’t haven’t anything electrical in it. Another great use is to print TOYS for children.. 🙂

  • A
    Reply Alma on February 12, 2016 says;

    هذا جميل

  • S
    Reply Stella Ester on February 12, 2016 says;

    C’est beau. Il est un poste idéal

  • U
    Reply Ursula on February 12, 2016 says;

    Amazing post and technology

  • E
    Reply Eliska on February 12, 2016 says;

    Quite fascinating indeed. 3D technology is still in its inception, but there seems to be a log going on here already.

  • L
    Reply Lisa W on February 12, 2016 says;

    Futuristic fashion and outfits

  • S
    Reply Sandra on February 12, 2016 says;

    How about printing fashionable footwear… I think the possibilities are limitless..

  • A
    Reply Allie B. Steiner on February 12, 2016 says;

    I’m intrigued by 3D printing. It feels like there might be something in it. It could revolutionise business models and customer experiences

  • M
    Reply Madelyn Abigail on February 12, 2016 says;

    A bit obvious, but I’m strongly inclined to think this could revolutionise fashion retail in the near future (let’s say five-ten years), once home printers are up to scratch – and they very nearly are.

  • u
    Reply ushria t on February 12, 2016 says;

    We can make bags as well!

  • M
    Reply Magalie on February 12, 2016 says;

    The opportunity is there for high street retailers, but I think that pureplays like Threadless would probably be quickest to capitalise on this. Consumers, equipped with a cotton (or possibly a synthetic like TYVEK) printer cartridge would order online, and have a garment pattern sent directly to their printer so that they can print it out at home.

    There’s also the possibility of recycling materials for re-use if you are paying for design rather than primarily for base materials. Sign up, buy one T-Shirt, then when you’re tired of it, stick it in the recycler and have it reprinted with a new pattern.

    This sort of model also leaves plenty of room for experiential shopping, without the hassle of hauling all those bags home at the end of it.

  • A
    Reply Alessandra on February 12, 2016 says;

    This has been a fascination of mine since I had the pleasure to design some models and print them while still in university in 2006.

  • I
    Reply Isabella on February 12, 2016 says;

    In the construction field they are experimenting with large scale (think crane sized) printers that can print entire houses from the ground up.

  • K
    Reply Karen M. Moore on February 12, 2016 says;

    In the technology field they are looking into printing nanochips and microchips. And In the medical field printing ball and socket type joints to one day use as hip and elbow replacements is being experimented with.

  • W
    Reply Wilma on February 12, 2016 says;

    It is a beautiful post. Great information provided.
    Basically if you can dream it, you can print it.

  • J
    Reply Joanne on February 12, 2016 says;

    Overall the dynamics of globalisation may change given that production of many items, currently produced offshore in low costs production centres in Asia, will potentially be brought onshore again. This change could have profound effect on global markets and power. Interesting times.

    Excellent post, and food for thought!

  • H
    Reply Hadewych on February 12, 2016 says;

    I’m looking at printing earrings, or phone cases… 😀

    Nice post

  • G
    Reply Gwen on February 12, 2016 says;

    I love this. It is superb

  • A
    Reply Alexane on February 13, 2016 says;

    3D printing will start to change the world around us as people (Artificial Intelligence?) print ‘things’ we don’t even know we need yet.

    Long live the revolution 🙂

  • O
    Reply Olivia on February 13, 2016 says;

    3D printing is interesting.

  • J
    Reply Jill on February 13, 2016 says;

    It’s amazing how far technology has come and it’s scary to think what the future will be like.

    Great post. Loved your previous post as well.

  • J
    Reply José Cerqueira on February 13, 2016 says;

    Love your write-ups you have a great flair to fashion I notice, other than recipes from deep roots of herbalism. What else do you have your flair for. I’m seeing you write almost anything under the sun.

    Have a great weekend!

  • M
    Reply Makayla on February 13, 2016 says;

    The main limitation is in the materials that are currently available for 3D printing – mostly plastics and metals. There are, however, some clothing and shoe manufacturers who are currently experimenting with the technology.

  • a
    Reply aroranid93 on February 13, 2016 says;

    Thanks for sharing your article

  • Y
    Reply Yamani K on February 13, 2016 says;

    3d printing is fascinating.

  • J
    Reply Judith Powell on February 13, 2016 says;

    It’s astonishing how far engineering has come.

  • K
    Reply Kato on February 13, 2016 says;

    Cette imprimante 3D est vraiment chose très efficace est découvert que dans ce que nous pouvons facilement faire les choses qui sont là dans notre esprit et peut être facilement le faire en réel.

  • Z
    Reply Zoe on February 13, 2016 says;

    This is really a very creative thing.

  • E
    Reply Emma Brown on February 13, 2016 says;

    I’m dazed. Its so awesome where our technology has come to today. Once upon a time, when we were young and growing up, we did not even have a store to buy clothes, or it was not so easily accessible.. It was a dream to travel upto the big cities like new york or so, and see all those fashion those days.
    I think now technology has steered up a big deal and so much is so easily available. Great to see innovation. I hope there won’t be harm in such things.

  • T
    Reply Teresa on February 13, 2016 says;

    Should I say insane or awesome!!! Great post on information though 🙂

  • D
    Reply Deborah on February 13, 2016 says;

    I Love that girls Shoe.. Is that also 3d printed?

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