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Domestic Production Awaits


Sunday, July 26th 2015

Innovation is always at the heart of modern fashion’s evolution. The creation of new materials and techniques acts as societal benchmarks that advertise where we stand in relation to broader advancements that shape the direction our society is heading.

The embrace of man-made textiles that goes as far back as the turn of the twentieth century reflects our innovations in chemistry with materials advancement. As we celebrated the use of these materials, we found a new world waiting that was shaped by new compounds and, along with these advancements, new manufacturing processes that made them.

Something as mundane as a t-shirt can act as a hallmark for where we stand in the path of incredible advancement. Such is the case with 3D printing. This technology looks to be the next stage of domestic tools at our disposal in the same way that home printers helped make commercial printing accessible to all. One of the areas that have been explored is set to be a transformative game-changer in the fashion world: the creation of clothes at home from scratch.

Where the sewing machine allowed those with time and skills to take the reigns, this technology promises to take it a step further. Those without the knowledge of sewing, cutting  or pattern-making need not worry as the printer looks to make the process easier through elimination of those steps.

In May the company ElectroLoom set up a crowdfunding campaign as they created a 3D printer for seamless garments that one can create at home. Meanwhile, graduating student Danit Peleg designed a graduate collection where a person could 3D print their own clothes at home using a strong and flexible material called FilaFlex. Some of the pieces were so normal that they could easily pass commercial approval.

The concept of 3D printing at home was explored earlier in 2010 when industrial and product designer Joshua Harris proposed a prototype that is expected to be common by mid 21st century. This centers around a printer where cartridges would contain colours and materials that would come with programs for patterns, all via design houses. The process would eliminate washers & dryers as the items could be put back into the machines where they’d be reconstituted to produce a new garment. Thus, if it was damaged or if even one was bored, they could produce a new garment on demand. Very lofty expectations that are being worked on as we speak.

While 3D printing is in the very early stages of widespread domestic use, remember that the microwave oven and the home computer had modest beginnings until the applications were more user-friendly and the costs were in line with what the public could agree was acceptable given their intended purposes to justify the expense.

What this means for the fashion industry is another matter entirely. When the sewing machine became popular, smart designers sold their patterns to capitalize on the increased use as a way of recouping lost profits that DIYers encroached upon. As the 3D printer and the accompanying programs are set to be more user-friendly, you an expect these innovations to further render ready-to-wear in current marketing platforms to be obsolete. The designers that survive will still create, but it will be their intellectual property…their designs & the materials they release for the corresponding technology…that will be the commodity as 3D printing becomes commonplace.

That’s not to say that fashion will cease to exist. There will always be materials that can’t be printed and techniques that the house will control. And the charm of old-school garment producing will become the new bespoke. Of course, that will mean the exclusivity of such fashion nostalgia will have the price to match.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. July 31, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Absolutely fascinating! I have had a hunch about this for a long time. Could this be the answer/solution to the problems associated with fast fashion? Hopefully 🙂

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