By Brendan Conley, Marketing Specialist – Cimquest Inc.
Last month, Fashion Week emerged on the streets of New York City, presenting the top new trends, fads, and style movements of the industry. Cimquest and Stratasys partook in this year’s excitement by exhibiting at Style X, an experiential platform which showcases contemporary companies who blend fashion with new technology. The venue included a Design Leadership Panel, featuring avant-garde designers and innovators driving change in the industry. The Panel focused on 3D printing and other emerging processes that can potentially complement traditional production methods. In fashion, 3D printing can be used as a tool to fabricate conceptual designs and even assist in final production. At Style X we had a variety of parts on display, most notably prototypes printed through PolyJet technology. PolyJet is great for clothing items due to its multi-color/multi material capability. You can create things like realistic sneaker prototypes in a blend of rubber-like and rigid materials, or alluring jewelry with detailed textures.
Another company present, True Gault, uses 3D imaging technology to scan feet and determine true fit. From the scans, they can develop stylish shoes that fit perfectly to an individual’s unique frame. This technology suggests a potential shift towards more customization in consumer products. Paulina Perepelkin, Founder of AdditiveFashion.com and BDM at GrabCAD, shared a similar opinion for fashion brands. “Companies like Shapeways and Stratasys Services make it much more accessible for people to get ahold of really exciting things. When I think of the future of fashion in 5 years, I’d like to think of something a lot more personalized in a way.” Personalization through 3D printing can already be seen in companies like Normal, who use imaging and 3D Printing to create music earphones that fit perfectly to your ear lobe.
During the Panel, the speakers discussed the role of newer technologies and how they can help enrich design and production. “The biggest mistake people make initially is they try to use it [3D Printing] to replace some other technology”, said Francis Bitonti, Designer, Innovator, Founder Francis Bitonti Studios. “It’s its own tool and the materials have their own unique properties which make it really good for certain things.” One really good thing is 3D printing’s capability to create functional prototypes and concept models in a timely manner (not to mention cost savings compared with accepted methods), getting products to market faster. So while 3D printing cannot fully replace certain methods yet, it is an engine which contributes to various steps of the development process.
Steve Faletti, Head of Creative Product at SOLS Inc. expressed his prediction of micro trends. “Right now there are 13,000 shoe brands in the US. It’s easier now than it ever has been to produce and distribute if you’re doing a small and more focused run. I wonder if we’re going to see more micro trends, as confined and quickly aligned with a group of people who have similar aesthetics, sensibility and desires.” As technologies like 3D printing evolve and become more accessible, more companies may utilize these tools to develop niche fashion brands for collective groups. Through inventive thinking and an increased harmony of fashion and technology, we could see the release of many ingenious yet practical products in the years to come.