Geek and tech chic is having it’s moment in the wake of Silicon Valley Fashion Week 2016, and its no surprise to see wearable 3D prints up and down the runway. However, it is a surprise to still being seeing wearable 3D prints thrown into the mix more as a gimmick than as an actual viable fashion option. Is the fashion industry really ready to adopt 3D printing on it’s shelves?
It is Silicon Valley Fashion Week, or it was by the time this airs. Actually, right now it’s Paris Fashion Week. As we’re recording this, it’s Paris Fashion Week. It’s always a Fashion Week. It’s that time of the year. I was underwhelmed with Silicon Valley fashion week and their showing of wearable 3D prints.
I think there’s something really interesting. If you’re not in a fashion industry, you may not understand this sort of dynamic that goes on in it. There’s three segments of the fashion industry. There’s the high end couture, which is what these fashion weeks are. These high end designers doing runway shows. These products are, they’re not yet at that stage at which they’re totally viable in terms of they’re going to be on the shelf. They’re not at that stage even at a Barney’s or a Bloomingdale’s or any of those store levels. They’re still in a more higher end couture design realm. This is your concept car, if you’re an automotive person.
The reality is there’s some great ideas there. They’re going to filter in to the line that’s actually bought and purchased. They’re going out there and they’re showing this off so that you can get critical feedback is really what’s happening. You’re getting buyer feedback, you’re getting media feedback, you’re getting fashionistas and fan feedback, all of that is happening at that same time. You’re having a push from the top down in terms of design.
Then what happens is, the stuff that gets picked up by the stores is a filtered down version of it. It’s not watered down, dumbed down. It’s just taking the really good ideas and turning them into the products that are put into ready to wear. Then you get the copycats. You get the knock offs, you get the stuff we buy at Walmart and Target and Kohl’s and all of those things.
It’s not always knock offs. I would say, design derivatives. I say it is because it’s not original. No one really designed that. They styled that. There’s a really big difference there. We define design and styling as someone who had the original thought, the creativity, the story behind it, all of those things came with it. The other ones saw it and said, “I can’t make it exactly like that. Let’s do it with a V neck.” The next thing you know, it’s a derivative of the same thing.
All of those things actually really help the market. You can’t look at them as knock offs as these terrible things. I never looked at them that way in the fashion industry. I don’t even look at it that way in the product industry. You have to think about it as the sincerest form of flattery is imitation in this case. That actually helps build more value for those things that are the high priced items. Because they are the originals. Now, there’s more value for them because there’s copying going on.
I think the reality in that market is the customer who would buy the original, wants the original, is willing to pay more. The customer that would buy the derivative or the knock off can never afford to buy the originals. They’re not really hurting each other. Some designers believe that they are and you worked really hard to do what you’re doing. It’s the ones that really aren’t financially successful that are whining about that. That’s just the reality of it.
It’s of a case where without that overall trend happening in the marketplace, it’s not reaching the critical mass. Looking at Silicon Valley Fashion Week, going back to what our original topic here is on wearable 3D prints, this is why I was a little underwhelmed. It was like, “Let’s slam some cool tech into our clothing and call it fashion.” I just don’t really think that that’s got that same, is this really stuff that is going to filter down anything or this is just another way to show off tech in a different way?
I think it’s mostly a way to show off tech in a different way. I think a lot of the things that I’ve seen have been pretty contrived. There are some beautiful, don’t get me wrong, some beautiful art that’s being created that is walking down the runway that is 3D printed. It’s gorgeous. But to me, it’s art. It’s more one off couture fashion if you will. It’s not practical. It’s not going to lead to mass market 3D printed items.
No, maybe you could get Lady Gaga to wear it on a runway somewhere or at one of her shows. I’m sure she probably has. I’m sure some of those pieces may be 3D printed for all we know. She wore a bacon dress, among other weird dresses. She’s definitely out there. That was my point in picking her to mention who could wear it, because some of these things are really out there.
Although I do think there are some companies that are doing some serious development of 3D printable fabrics and 3D printable structures that can become part of clothing that’s really innovative. I’m excited by that. There’s a lot of flexible materials coming up. You look at 3D printing and you think, “That’s not fabric. How is that ever going to be fabric?” The reality is that our fabrics are actually plastic. There’s a lot of plastic in our fabric.
Synthetic I think is the way that I think it’s talked about. At the end of the day, it’s petroleum products. I’ve seen plastics texturized. There’s whole ways to finish them and to do incredible things to them after they’re woven or knitted, or before, in the yarn stage of it. In the filament stage as we know in 3D printing. I know that it’s viable and out there. At the end of the day, I still think back to myself and I’m saying, it doesn’t quite yet have that three part push going on in the marketplace that I was just talking about before.
You have this high end cool design thing going on, this art that’s in wearable 3D prints. It’s very cool and it’s very interesting. You have some amount of critical, “Oh yeah, that’s cool and that’s interesting.” But you don’t have anybody picking it up to buy it yet. That’s where it’s falling apart right there. No one saying, “I will buy that,” because frankly, it’s overpriced and not large enough volume for a lot of the way that we’re selling fashion today, fashion as a high demand, high volume item.
Sometimes it’s very almost sheer or has holes in it and you can’t really wear it without wearing some other piece of clothing underneath it. Actually, that was something that I was highly critical about the dress that Airwolf3D showed at several trade shows that was “3D printed”. In reality, there was a lot of 3D printed parts on it, but they were really glued to a fabric dress that the model wore. To me, that’s not the reality of 3D printed clothing and accessories in the future. That’s just a way to make it happen now.
I think that there some accessories. In fact, we have an upcoming episode that I’m really excited about, an interview where we’re talking about shoes, 3D printed shoes. They’re awesome. Really thinking about the ways at which it can be applicable, I think fashion hasn’t found that area yet. Also, just the process of selling fashion doesn’t really allow for it, except the very very high custom end. Why does it need to be 3D printed? Because you’re custom making it any way.
It doesn’t have as good applicability to it to me. I think in the future, I can see that it would. It just seems contrived. For instance, just take how simple sweaters are made or even t-shirts that are made in the same way. They have very special machines that make them, that knit the fibers together. To me, that has always been a form of 3D printing. I think that there’s opportunity to do that a little more literally 3D printing as we know it in this industry to produce structures that are still flexible enough, soft enough. There are advantages for doing wearable 3D prints.
If you want to consider it that way, we’ve been three dimensional knitting, 3D knitting. I helped champion the very first three dimensionally knitted arm pads that went on the Aeron chair. I helped work on those projects and helped get them perfectly formed. They were knits exactly to shape. There was no waste. They weren’t exactly knit to order because at that case you were not making them every single one off, you were making many many. They were three dimensionally knitted.
The process has gotten so refined. The machinery’s come down in cost. The processing has gotten so fast. Now, we can make Nike shoes out of them. They do, they three dimensional knitted Nike shoes. Actually, there’s a couple of companies running them right now. It’s not like it hasn’t found a way to become mainstream in that sense. It’s just 3D printing right now hasn’t found that champion and that area where it fits really well.
I had hoped that Silicon Valley Fashion Week would do it. Instead, it was like, “Let’s jam just more lights and …” There was LEDs and some coloring thing. It just got a little techy showy and not anything applicable. Now, you don’t have anybody copying. But isn’t that sometimes what the automobile shows do when they show the far out cars? They know that that’s not going to be anything that’s going to be on our showroom floor in the next one or two years. Eventually, seven years, eight years down the road, some of those innovations creep their way into production automobiles.
That’s what I’m saying today is like, I look at what’s going on here and I go, “No, I don’t need that. I wouldn’t wear that. I don’t want that.” There’s not that going on yet where we’re saying, “Okay, cool.” But it stops there. There’s not that like, “I want that. Let’s get that viable.”
Does that mean that 3D printing of clothing and having wearable 3D prints is a lot farther off in the future from being really practical than many other applications for 3D printing because there’s not a consumer need or consumer demand being built for it because they’re not seeing anything that they think they want to have or that’s realistic. All they’re seeing is more costume, maybe.
There’s nothing wrong with that from an artistic or a couture standpoint. I definitely think fashion accessories are coming along really well. There’s no argument there. I just think clothing itself is so much farther off lipitor diabetes. I know fabric really well. You cannot underestimate the value of the texture of something, the weight of something. There’s so much more technically that needs to occur.
If you don’t get it to a stage at which someone says, “I want that but it’s too hard or it’s heavy or it’s too thick.” Innovation in 3D printing for textile purposes actually won’t occur if there’s no desire and demand for it. It’s an interesting thought. The reality of the fashion industry for clothing, and it’s one of the reasons we don’t really work in clothing ourselves as designers, it’s not our specialty but it’s also not something we’re really interested in doing.
There is an entire supply chain of fabrics out there where there are just hundreds and thousands of different kinds of materials and colors and textures and prints and weaves and all sorts of material to go and make any kind of fashion and couture fashion you want. Again, 3D printing allowing you to, in some ways, do anything but not having an idea of what that needs to be or could be or should be. No industry is producing a lot of raw materials specifically for that.
In today’s really ugly color world of filament, it’s not going to happen that soon either. This is what I mean by without that application demonstration where you can get some consumer desire, demand and wanting it.
Wearable 3D Prints – Final Thoughts
I just wrote an article just really recently, I’ve been writing actually multiple articles on virtual reality and augmented reality. There was $58 million that went to Osterhaut Design Group who basically designed for James Bond, did a bunch of gadgets in the movie for James Bond, cool gadgets. There’s this demand already happening for virtual reality content. The content is desired, there’s a lot of investment going on. It’s all this heavy investment.
At the end of the day, I can stick a set of glasses on my head and they’re heavy and they’re horrible. This group is well poised to do an incredible job of it. I really hope they do because it could make the whole industry viable. Because there’s a demand for it though, there’s investment happening and innovation required to make it all happen.
That’s where wearable 3D prints are falling apart right now. It hasn’t got the content excitement that VR has. It’s missing that content excitement. As long as you’re missing that content excitement, that’s what Silicon Valley Fashion Week fell short of and it’s what we say all the time when we look out there and you see that tons of junk out there in the crowd sourced libraries, is it hurts the demand for 3D print products, 3D print fashion, 3D print whatever it is that you want to 3D print.
It hurts the demand for those things so that the innovation and the money doesn’t flow to fix what is wrong. Speed, cost, whatever those things are, colors, materials. All of those things will be solved if there’s the demand for it. Somebody will send money on it. That’s really where I’m saying. I’m really disappointed, I really hoped it would go so well. Of all places that could do 3D print fashion well, it should’ve been Silicon Valley, you would think.
Maybe it’s just one facet of the 3D print industry that it’s going to take a whole lot longer and it is going to be more of a one off artistic thing for a long time before somebody figures out the practicality of it and before the market is ready for consumers to actually buy it or you could get a download file and really print a whole thing on your own printer at home. The home printing technology is probably not there yet either.
Anyway, definitely you want to check out the blog post at 3DStartPoint.com because we’ll have some pictures from the Silicon Valley Fashion Week. There’s also been other fashion shows this year, Rapid 2016 happened this year. We also did a couture 3D printing episode couple months ago or something like that. We’ll link to that because there were some really cool artistic couture designs there that I just thought were really fascinating and great artistic statements and really good use of 3D printing. There’s definitely inspiration as a 3D print designer there.
Then also some celebs have been wearing 3D print items lately. We have a 3D print pop culture blog post we did a couple months ago that has some really cool items that some celebrities have been wearing lately. I really think it would be huge irony if we found Katy Perry with 3D printed item as opposed to Lady Gaga. She would be really ideal. I think you would have to make up for the whole shark incident. Maybe that would be a great apology to the 3D print community. We could kiss and make up there. I don’t know if she’ll see it that way. I do think she is that person that is avant garde and would potentially wear something like that.
Of course if you guys have any thoughts or cool things that is really happening in 3D print fashion with wearable 3D prints that we just don’t know about, we’d love to hear about that. Make sure to ping us on social media @3DStartPoint.
- 2016 Silicon Valley Fashion Week
- Wearable 3D Prints Fashion Designer Danit Peleg
- How to 3D Print on Fabrics
- Why Herman Miller Redesigned it’s Best Selling Aeron Chair
- James Bond’s Gadget Designer Raises $58 Million on Future Vision of AR Glasses
- Katy Perry and the Left Shark Incident
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