June 2019

3D printing and fashion | From high end to high street?

From the likes of Adidas to Iris van Herpen, fashion companies and designers have begun to embrace 3D printing in the same way many other industries have. Only last month we saw some of the incredible work done by designer Zac Posen at the Met Gala, with a number of celebrities walking down the red carpet adorned in stunning 3D printed outfits.

Although the technology offers seemingly unlimited possibilities to designers and companies, there are still a number of hurdles 3D printing must overcome before it becomes a key player in the fashion industry at large.

Cutting edge designs

One designer who has used 3D printing to help take her creations to the next level is Maartje Dijkstra. The Dutch designer has adopted the technology to create a range of surreal and eye-catching outfits that would have been impossible to design using any other method. Adidas released their first 3D printed shoe in 2015, and the sports giants are continuing to work on more 3D printed footwear.

Here at Ogle, we have our own experience within the fashion industry. We were approached by design house Julien Hakes and tasked with 3D printing a custom-made golden shoe for Winter Olympic gold medal winner Amy Williams MBE. Created using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), the golden leather wedge went on to be featured on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show.


Now, while the possibilities are now seemingly endless in terms of designers being able to create new outfits, we’re still some way away from Primark releasing a range of 3D printed vests their own. It might be on the extreme end of things, but just one black dress created by Dijkstra took almost 1,000 hours, highlighting just how time-consuming the process currently is.

The technology works very well for complex structures, as demonstrated by Zac Posen’s elaborate gown seen at this year’s Met Gala. Dutch designer Iris van Herpen famously used the technology in her skeletal and foliage haute couture dresses, while British fashion guru Alexander McQueen 3D-printed a grim, biomorphic spine snaking around a 25-centimetre-high heel.

Impressive – yes. Accessible to all – no.

Coming to a H&M near you soon?

Short answer, no. While we will continue to see 3D printing used for one-off designs and high-end fashion, the fact is you shouldn’t expect to be able to buy 3D printed skinny jeans at TK Maxx any time soon.

Learn more about our work with Julian Hakes.

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