Are 3D Printed Garments the Future of Fashion?



3D printed garments have been all over the industry news during the past few years – as has 3D printing in wider industries too. 3D printing has made so many more things accessible, affordaible and easier – and fashion is another thing added to that list. 

Fashion has always been about experimenting and using material in new and exciting ways – so when 3D printing became available on a larger scale (at a more affordable print point) it was always going to be embraced by the fashion industry. 

It started with big brands and designers such as Adidas, Iris van Herpen and Zac Posen using 3D printed garments on their runways and couture fashion shoots. The fashion world was wowed by the potential and possibilities – and it wasn’t long before other brands took note and decided to try it themselves. 

“It’s about all the creativity that they can translate due to the freedom of design” – Valérie Vriamont

It seemed like 3D printing offer endless design possibilities and endless chances to change, create and perfect. Amazing 3D printed gowns started to make their way onto the Met Gala runway, and even into graduate runway shows from top design colleges. Designers started using 3D printing to embellish their designs, to create exciting design features – and to elaborate and expand on existing pieces. These additions and embellishments might have otherwise been impossible to achieve – so the 3D printing really allowed designers to explore their imagination and design potential fully. 

3D printing in Hollywood

We’ve also seen 3D printing help costume designers and production designers on many Hollywood movie sets. Costume is definitely one of the most fun and fresh aspects of fashion, especially in movies such as sci-fi and superhero genres. Quite recently, the costume designers from Marvel’s Black Panther used 3D printing for many of the costumes and outfits features in the Wakanda scenes. 

Right now though, 3D printing is generally only available to brands, designers and artists with enough of a budget to invest into the 3D printing equipment. Whilst some of the equipment is available can be bought for under £500, most larger 3D printers cost much more than that – and as high-level technological devices, they also require a certain level of technical knowledge too. 

But will 3D printing ever be available at home? 

We think the questions we’re asking ourselves is, will 3D printing ever be available for people at home? And will be ever be able to print our own clothes? 

The answer is, yes – this will be possible eventually. But whether it’ll be affordable or achievable on a large scale is another question altogether. There’s also the question of whether personal at-home 3D printing is sustainable and eco-friendly. 

It’s more likely that we’ll be able to personalise to add to our garments using miniature 3D printers. 

What about for wider brands and stores? 

This is much more likely than the above. Instead of people having personal 3D printers in their homes, it’s more likely we’ll find people visiting local stores that have in-house 3D printers to personalise and customise the items. 

Take shoe brands for example, they could potentially personalise your in-soles in the stores, after analysing and 3D printing a personalised a perfectly fitting version especially for you. It would take up the quality and fit of their products, and it’s added value for you. This is something that could easily and simply be introduced within the next 2-5 years, especially for larger brands and stores. 

3D printing accessories 

3D printing accessories is something that could be seen much more as the years go on, as this requires smaller machines, and less materials, so it’s much more achievable and budget friendly than garment 3D printing. It’s likely we’ll see the production of 3D printed accessories in the fashion industry on the highstreet sooner than we see actual clothing being 3D printed on the highstreet. Accessories are small, cheaper and require less ‘structure’ and design – which is good news for 3D printers. Think about items such as wallets, purses, sunglasses, hair clips, bracelets, etc. In certain designs, these would be easy and achievable to print en masse. 

Would you wear something that had been 3D printed? And would you be excited to see 3D printing introduced to the fashion industry and high street fashion? Which items of clothing / accessories would do you think would be best 3D printed?

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