It’s safe to say that paper isn’t the only thing coming out of a printer these days. Freedom of Creation design house have produced bags, furniture and jewellery while James Yoo from the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University has talked of bio printing; printing skin directly onto burn victims. The list of materials that can be popped into a 3D printer is growing. Be Your Own Souvenir project from Blablablab in Barcelona took it to the next level in advertising, allowing people to print models of themselves using the Microsoft Kinect.
The 3D printed Bikini N12, created by Continuum Fashion in partnership with Shapeways, looks set to change the fashion world. It may be ready to wear, but it is not cheap at $450. Although one wouldn’t be the first person to put their hand up to wear what appears to be a piece of plastic chain mail, the material Nylon 12 is strong, flexible, waterproof and apparently it becomes even more comfortable when wet, so that’s there excuse.
Future 3D printing has the potential to reduce labour costs and waste, however its real potential lies in custom made clothing. Imagine being able to design your own clothes, no templates, drawing, dying or stitching involved, it’s just you and your printer. Spotted somewhere wearing an outfit you like, take a picture and the 3D printer will do the rest, maybe it will become the next Primark?
So what could this mean for the future of clothing brands? Will they cease to exist? Instead of wearing the Prada, will I be wearing Gemma? I might be getting a little carried away, but is it really that farfetched? Dress shirt makers Blank Label already allow their customers to do all the work for them, designing their own fabrics, styles, sizes etc and Threadless even has a community that submits and scores their own t-shirts, which they just take and place on sale. So is this good crowd-sourcing or just cunning laziness? Well, I can’t answer that but if Kate Moss starts to collaborate with consumers to create a range of TopShop 3D fashion, then I’ll have one.