Printing 3D Fashion

Although the audience wasn’t aware, some of the fashion on the runway at Fashfest was made with a 3D printer. Yes, a printer. What happened to making good old paper patterns and cutting fabric with good old scissors you ask? Welcome to the world of fashion in 2015 and beyond. By Wendy Johnson.

Model Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed bracelet. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Charne Esterhuizen from Haus Models wears 3D printed bracelet by MAAK. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Organisations like the Australian 3D Manufacturing Association (A3DMA) and Engineer 3D are on to the infinite possibilities of this new-age technology. So too are an increasing number of fashion designers like those behind the label Mimetic, Melissa Pompeani and George McWilliam, and MAAK, Charne Esterhuizen, who are all recent graduates from the Canberra Institute of Technology.

Without getting technical, 3D manufacturing is the production of a physical object from a digital design. Today’s machines can make objects from almost any material, including plastic, glass, steel, and ceramics. Some items take an hour to produce and others much longer—depending on size and complexity. A shoe, for example, can take up to eight hours. A simple piece of jewellery much less.

Model Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed necklace and earings. Photograph by Robert Coppa

Charne Esterhuizen wears 3D printed bracelet by A3DMA. Photograph by Robert Coppa

If you have any doubts about what can be created through 3D printing, check out the fab jewellery in these amazing photos of Charne, who also happens to be a model at HAUS Models. The images, taken by super talented photographer Robert Coppa kind of say it all, don’t you think? Yes the jewellery came to life through 3D printing.

Neil Sharwood, in charge of Operations at A3DMA here in Canberra, says the bracelets Charne wore in the photos came from a repository of 3D models anyone can download for free and print themselves. It’s called thingivers.com if you’re keen.

While Charne loved the shoot, her real focus is now on designing and printing her own pieces of jewellery, bags and shoes, to complement the collection she launched at FASHFEST. Charne is also busy as a member of A3DMA, working on fashion projects for the not-for-profit organisation to help spread the word about 3D manufacturing, printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques. “I’m excited by the bright future promised by 3D printing technology,” says Charne. “Through 3D printing, we can reduce waste, use minimal resources, reduce pollution, and make clothes that fit perfectly.”

Doris from Haus Models wears 3D printed belt by Mimetic. Photography by GC Photography

Doris from Haus Models wears 3D printed belt by Mimetic. Photography by GC Photography

And that brings us to Mimetic and Engineer 3D, a company that also works with fashion designers, as well as industrial designers, architects and hobbyists, providing 3D printing and scanning services.

With the new collection Mimetic launched at Fashfest, The Travelling Tailor, Melissa and George worked with Engineer 3D’s Matt Lindsay for months to incorporate the technology through styling features and accessories. They produced their buttons, hooks and eyes all with 3D manufacturing. They also produced two sets of earrings, a necklace, bracelet and collar, all of which graced the catwalk at FASHFEST. If you take a close look at the products you would have no idea they were printed.

Ilana from Haus Models wears coat with 3D printed toggles designed by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

Ilana from Haus Models wears coat with 3D printed toggles designed by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

According to George, the team started by hand sketching, and then Engineer 3D handled the programming, produced models and then printed items out of powder, creating a solid in the process. The designers then applied an acetone finish to some items to give a shiny finish.

“With 3D printing, we can pull the aesthetic we want in our collections right through to every element we design. It’s not just about creating a silhouette,” says George, “it’s about all of the finishes. We love the longevity of the process. When you run out of something you just print again. Integrating 3D printing into what we do is a value principle for Mimetic. It’s an exciting way to work.”

Doris wears 3D printed collar by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

Doris wears 3D printed collar by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

And if that’s not enough, Mimetic also used new age technology to digitally screen print some of their fabric for their latest collection. Neil says the fashion industry is looking more and more to 3D printing. “Big picture, we’re living in another industrial revolution,” he says. “Manufacturing has changed dramatically. These days, body parts, houses and cars can all be 3D printed.

“In the fashion world, some of the technology is still a bit clunky for every day, wearable fashion garments but it’s changing, and fast. There will be more and more of it. Eventually there will be no size 6, 8 or 10—just your own scan and a perfect fit.”

Doris and Ilana showcase 3D printed collar and ear-rings by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

Doris and Ilana showcase 3D printed collar and ear-rings by Mimetic. Photo by GC Photography

Credits

MAAK shoot—Fashion: MAAK, Photography: Robert Coppa (copyright 2015—may not be printed without permission), Model: Charne Esterhuizen, Haus Models, Hair and fashion: Model’s own, Makeup: Katie Saarikko, Creative Director, Fashfest   https://www.facebook.com/katie.saarikko?fref=ts

Travelling Tailor Mimetic shoot—Fashion: Mimetic, Photographer: GC Photography, Models: Ilana and Doris from Haus Models, Make-Up Artist: Claire Warmenhoven, Hair Stylist: Anna Markovic

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