Behind the Scene of the First Zero-Waste Digitally Customized 3D Printed Skirt

First Zero-Waste Digitally Customized 3D Printed Skirt Commercially Available

3D printing is on the verge of going mainstream. Both in the public eye, where 3D printing is starting to figure in the plots of television shows, and in commercial applications. Investment in commercial 3D printing equipment has grown more than tenfold in the last three years, and some industries—notably aerospace—have begun to adopt 3D printing into their design and manufacturing workflows.  

Somewhere between 3D printing’s history as a hobby and its growing future as a means of mass production lie applications like fashion. As I’ve gotten ready to produce the world’s first digitally customizable 3D-printed skirt, I’ve been thinking about how far the technology has come in the last few years, and how a new paradigm is forming around 3D-printed fashion. More than just a new business model, I believe that 3D printing is the method around which an entire new age of fashion is taking shape.  

The Two Eras of Fashion 

For most of human history, fashion was largely a local affair, usually the domain of women responding to the demands of climate and culture. Even where raw materials like cotton or wool were plentiful, clothing designers rarely had a broad range of materials to choose from. The same thing applied to dyes and fixatives like alum, and to the materials used to provide functional and decorative accessories like buttons and beads. 

What women in the first age of fashion may have lacked in terms of materials, they more than made up for with technical innovation and ingenious approaches to design that built sophisticated fashion vernaculars out of relatively few components. Those techniques and designs inform fashion to this day, but on a commercial scale they do so at a remove, as inspirations from a past era. 

The Industrial Revolution had the same impact on fashion that it did on many other industries. New means of transportation brought raw materials from around the world to factories where garments were produced in mass quantities. The tradition of handcrafted clothing persisted for some time, but even then, dressmakers and tailors were usually working with mechanically produced fabrics.  

In the 20th century, widespread globalization produced the fashion industry we know today. Design has been largely divorced from production: fashion designers work with textile firms to select distinctive woven materials or to produce unique ones; their designs, however carefully developed in the studio, are produced in factories, often in problematic conditions. 

Fashion’s Next Era 

We are just getting a glimpse of fashion’s third era. 3D printing offers the same prospect of wholesale change to the fashion industry that the Industrial Revolution delivered. In some ways, new era offers a compelling synthesis of the two that preceded it. 

 

 

The software employed in the 3D printing process reunites the modes of design and production that were rendered discrete by the advent of mass production. On a more practical level, the challenges of 3D fashion design would be familiar to our first-era forebears. 3D designers currently have a relatively small palette of raw materials to choose from, and necessity has given birth to some fascinating advances in technique. At the same time, we benefit from the second era’s legacy: new materials are constantly in development, and are becoming commercially available with increasing frequency.   

A New Production Model 

The first and second eras of fashion were defined in part by the ways that fashion was consumed. In the first era, fashion often denoted and reinforced affiliation with local or regional communities. While individual designers and garment-makers of special genius were celebrated locally and regionally, they did not produce fashions for large markets.  

That has been the second era’s specialty, and the economies of scale necessary for fashion to reach global markets have benefited consumers as surely as they have degraded the lives of garment workers and in many ways degraded the wider fashion vernacular. 

3D printing is still an immature enough technology that economies of scale don’t apply just yet. But value- and supply chains serving commercial 3D printing are developing quickly, and the core technology behind 3D printing becomes more powerful each year.  

3D clothing was something of a novelty as recently as a few years ago, when designers were devoted to proofs of concept similar to those demonstrated by the more outré entries at fashion shows. It’s a novelty no more. The challenge today is to develop protocols, pipelines, and business models that allow the mainstream production of 3D printed clothing. 

A New Commitment to Environmental Friendliness 

 

In emphasizing economies of scale, fashion’s second era didn’t just affect the lives of garment workers: its impact on the environment has been increasingly severe. From short-sightedly intensive cultivation methods to the widespread use of nonbiodegradable materials, our current methods of producing garments for widespread distribution are completely unsustainable. 

 

The next era of fashion must and will place these concerns at the center of the entire process, from design to manufacture, sale to disposal.

Several prominent designers have made valiant efforts to source their materials ethically, and to reduce the overall environmental impact of their collections.  But those efforts, however noble, are insufficient to the challenges before us. A properly complete rethinking of the fashion industry addresses the need for completely biodegradable materials and zero-waste production methods while offering customers stylish, comfortable garments on their own terms. 3D printing alone fulfils that mandate. 

 

Tell us how you see the industry further evolving in the comment section below.

Text: Julia Daviy

Photo: Danil Kaistro

 

 

 

Any part of these text and photos is a subject of Copyright. Use it for quotation requires a direct link on JuliaDaviy.com

 

Is SLA 3D Printing Future of Fashion Industry?

Is SLA 3D Printing  Future of Fashion Industry?

Designers, visionaries, and entrepreneurs are spearheading the movement that will result in some of the most innovative clothing and accessories to show up on runways (and eventually your home) in decades.

Though there are still current limitations to how stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing can be used in the fashion industry — it’s safe to say that we are at the brink of a revolution.

SLA 3D printing is different than much of the the 3D printing already being put to use in the fashion industry. There are, in fact, three forms of 3D printing being used: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Selective laser sintering (SLS), and SLA.

 

I love FDM for its potential to achieve zero-waste, but hate the imperfection of the 3D printing process faced when using it. An alternative that achieves higher quality “impossible” 3D pieces is SLS technology. However, it’s very resource-intensive and dirty.  

 

This leaves SLA 3D printing, which allows a designer to achieve the highest of quality with zero waste, as the clear future system for the fashion industry, especially because it also requires less human supervision. However, because the technology is relatively new, few fashion designers have put in the effort to understand its capabilities.

 

At the 3D Printing Clothing Lab and Studio I run with my partner, we use large-format industrial SLA 3D printers as part of the first 3D printed clothing manufacturing model in the United States — if not the world. It was in this lab that I created a dress for New York Fashion Week 2018 with a base made from with the ahimsa silk organza fabric and a 3D pattern in flexible resin.

Though I am well-versed in all three forms of 3D printing, I find myself drawn to SLA technology, often experimenting with it. Not only exploring the potential of SLA 3D printing itself but imagining and creating prototypes of an ideal SLA 3D printer for clothing and accessories production.

 

Though fashion designers are already elbows deep in exploring the potential of SLA 3D printing, it’s not quite economical — yet.

Electric Potential

Today, 3D printed clothes have the same meaning for the fashion industry as Telsa had for the automobile market five years ago.

 

Basically, we are establishing a trend and laying the foundation for a new market. But it’s exactly the same as how electric cars couldn’t compete in the market with traditional models: because there was no established production of cheap and reliable components. Only now, with Telsa releasing its Model 3 with an affordable base price of $35,000, does the company have a vehicle that is profitable to manufacture.

 

Unfortunately, there is a great amount of confusion and misinformation out there with regards to where 3D printing really stands with regards to being able to be used in production for the fashion industry.

 

At this point, the primary thing holding back the fashion industry with regards to fully embracing the potential of SLA 3D printing is decision-makers inertial, old-fashioned way of thinking about the industry.

 

For some reason, many fail to recognize that the technology has gotten to the point that it’s scalable. It doesn’t have to be used solely for creating single pieces of art. One case in point is Adidas teaming up with Silicon-valley based Carbon in their Futurecraft 4D series.

 

For these shoes, running data from athletes are mapped out to establish optimal cushioning and support in the midsole. A design based on this information is then printed using Carbon’s Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) enabled DLS technology in a UV-curable resin and polyurethane mixture. SLA 3D printing is at the heart of the DLS technology that makes these highly responsive shoes possible.

 

Carbon printed 100,000 midsoles for sneakers last year and plans to achieve a million items in 2019-2020.

 

In fact both Adidas and Under Armour have promised a future where customers can 3D print their sneakers in-store might not be high fashion, it’s certainly an aggressive step forward in the way of using 3D printers for fashion on a commercial level.

 

The other artificial hurdle raised when the powers at be try to stifle the progress of the fashion industry with their old ways is the claim that 3D printing is too expensive to compete in the market place.

 

Sure, it’s not cheap when compared to mass-market bulk items coming out of sweatshops of developing nations. These sort of garments created in the fast-fashion world, which has already killed the American clothing industry in terms of tastes for quality design and innovation, fuel the unethical system of production that relies on the exploitation of women and children in far-off countries. However, if you’re looking at luxury fashion items, 3D printed items hit the mark.

 

For the same amount you’d pay for a simple Gucci jacket with high-end trimming made the old-fashioned way, you can buy an absolutely unique 3D printed jacket that’s one of the first such garments in the world. This jacket, created in our lab, would also have the high-end trimming, as our seamstresses are some of the best in the US and have experience working for brands such as Chanel and Balenciaga. So, for those willing to spend money on luxury fashion items, SLA 3D printing is able to compete with top brands in terms of price and quality.

 

 

Limitations of SLA 3D printing

Though SLA 3D printing is the most effortless form of 3D printing and can be used to create otherwise impossible 3D patterns, there are limitations.

 

One of those limitations is the low printing volume. However, low volume tends to come with the territory when making high-end, luxury items.

 

Additional drawbacks include wastewater issues, though the inclusion of water recycling technology into SLA 3D printers seems like a real possibility in the not-too-distant future. There is also the issue of the process being potentially unsafe to just leave going in a home where there are kids.

 

The real limitation at this point in time is there are no ready-to-use solutions in the market place for designers. However, this will certainly change with time.

 

 

Solutions on the Horizon. 

In March, I was invited as a speaker to take part in the BIG IDEAS for UV+EB Conference that was held in Redondo Beach, California. The large part of the conference was devoted to the breakthrough of SLA 3D printing.

 

Besides talking about the new age of fashion—3D printing and other cutting-edge fashion technology—I presented our vision of the SLA 3D printing machines that the fashion industry needs.

 

I returned to my studio and lab not only with a lot of positive feedback on my speech but also with some fresh thoughts and materials to test for SLA 3D printed fashion.

 

These materials have excellent properties, they could be printed into flexible, durable, and “pleasant by touch” fashion items. That experience and those materials make me sure that the future of 3D printed fashion is much real and arriving much sooner than many industry experts think.

 

Tell us how you see the industry further evolving in the comment section below.

 

Text: Julia Daviy

Photo: Vita Zamchevska

 

Any part of these text and photos is a subject of Copyright. Use it for quotation requires a direct link on JuliaDaviy.com

 

 

AI in Fashion Poised to Change Industry’s Future

 

AI in Fashion Poised to Change Industry’s Future

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly permeating many aspects of our lives, from Alexa to Netflix.

Though still in its infancy — the robots are not taking over yet — AI is revolutionizing nearly all industries, including fashion. AI in fashion is already applicable to mass-production fashion, while entrepreneurs in the tech-fashion world scramble to refine other applications for consumer use.

 

Not only is it essential to understand the role AI will play in the fashion industry, it’s paramount to understand the ethical maze that we must walk to ensure that the technology promotes sustainable fashion. With the wrong algorithms, the wrong code, the wrong feedback loops, the future of fashion AI could be devastating to our planet.

 

Thankfully, the maze is not that difficult to navigate if you have the will to do so.

AI Discovering Future of Fashion

For the most part, AI in fashion is being used to rapidly identify either general trends or personal tastes of users based on enormous amounts of public data scrubbed from social media sites, such as Pinterest and Instagram. 

According to the Advertising Specialty Institute, a quick search of “#fashion” on Instagram reveals more than half a billion results. Sorting through that amount of big data to obtain meaningful insights and trends is only possible through AI. The project StreetStyle by Kavita Bala, chair of the computer science department at Cornell University, does exactly that.

 

The AI created for the project is able to develop a map of style trends and influencers by analyzing 14.5 million photos publicly shared on social media. The program is capable of answering questions, such as: How many people wear black in Los Angeles today, compared with two years ago? Or, where in the world is the hijab most prevalent?

 

One AI fashion company that has gained traction is Stitch Fix, which creates personalized suggestions of articles and accessories based on a user’s selected preferences and social-media activity.

 

Think about how much easier life would be if you could ditch your friends with sometimes-questionable fashion tastes and just ask your AI: Alexa, how do I look today? Then, Alexa could tell you that though the cut of your jeans is coming back in style based on your age and socio-economic standing, they certainly should not be worn with that print shirt.

AI Fashion Designers

Going beyond recognizing trends and allowing designers and producers to adapt more quickly to consumer needs, there is an attempt to have AI do the actual designing.

Though what is being rolled out is clearly unfashionable, there is work being rolled out.

At the research center Lab126, an Amazon team has already developed an algorithm using a generative adversarial network, or GAN — which exists on the frontline of computer learning.

Will Knight explained in MIT Technology Review that the algorithm developed by the team “learns about a particular style of fashion from images, and can then generate new items in similar styles from scratch—essentially, a simple AI fashion designer.” However, he admits that the system is still fairly crude — hardly a word any designer wants to hear about their work.

AI Ethics in Fashion

Despite its clear benefits for marketing and identifying trends, AI’s role in the future of fashion is riddled with pitfalls. We need to make sure we’re not using technology to widen inequality or worsen social injustice.

 

The tsunami is coming — that is clear. However, what form it takes when it makes land depends on a lot more than just efficient coding and rapid processing of big data. There are ethical questions with regards to all AI endeavors. And, because the fashion industry is plagued by ethical dilemmas, any AI being used will face those same questions.

 

 

Though you can include a note to your Stitch Fix stylist requesting ethically sourced, sustainable fashion items, that’s not the same as having AI recognize the trend in sustainable fashion from Instagram posts.

It really comes down to the choice made by a handful of people developing AI fashion programs for the industry. The future of fashion is in their fingertips; their views and moral values, as well as attention to ethical and sustainability questions, will revolutionize the fashion industry one or the other.

 

Designers and consumers must come together to ask AI fashion programers these ethical questions. Doing so is essential to the future of fashion and our planet.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts regarding AI in sustainable fashion in the comment box below.

When it comes right down to it, technology is not self-determining, yet. It is a tool that can be wielded for good, such as prioritizing sustainable fashion, or for bad, such as putting fashion ahead of the health of our planet.

Ask Yourself These Questions

To move forward with AI technology in the fashion industry, designer, consumers, and coders — who probably don’t know stilettos from wedges — need to ask themselves, and the industry, some very specific questions.

The most important is whether or not AI in the fashion industry will be designed to promote sustainable fashion. Without coding in ways to measure the new generation of consumers’ demand for sustainable fashion, AI could easily produce “hard data” that leads the industry astray.

 

 esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur.

Any path where machine-learning programs attempt to replace humans in the creation of fashion trends needs to be riddled with safeguards. There must be sentries standing guard over what is fundamentally important: does this fashion address the environmental, ethical, and cruelty-free questions that the new generation of consumers are asking?

Another big question that will impact our world is whether or not programmers of fashion AI algorithms are willing to provide a solution to the overconsumption that plagues the industry. At this point, it seems that such programs are more geared toward increasing overconsumption, pushing boxes of low quality, unstainable clothing and accessories on people who do not need them. Without addressing this issue, AI could simply escalate the issue of overconsumption in the industry.

The last question boils down the question of art. Is AI capable of creating art? An algorithm has been used to write a novel now, but can it define style? Style does not bloom from trends, trends are in fact the flowers of style.

It is far too easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and marketing capabilities of the AI being used by the fashion industry. Though AI is neither good nor bad, it is capable of both depending on what questions we ask while it’s being developed.

Consumers, designers, and programmers must ask these questions as we move into the future of fashion.

Changing Fashion One Printer at A Time: Why Every Woman Needs 3D Printed Clothing in Her Closet

In 2018, I launched the world’s first-ever fully 3D printed women’s fashion line created on large-format 3D printers and presented it during the last New York Fashion Week. Throughout that week and in the time since, one question I’ve been asked more times than I can count is simply, “why?”

Most people are amazed by the quality of clothing that can be accomplished with my method of 3D printing in fashion, but the reasoning behind moving towards 3D printed clothing goes so far beyond just the aesthetics or function of the pieces. The thing that makes this new paradigm so important, and the thing that drew me to it in the first place, is the enormous potential 3D printing holds for advancement in an ethical and sustainable fashion.

Since I first started experimenting with 3D printing, my vision has always been a world in which fashion production is safer and cleaner, with the serious human and environmental costs that the industry currently inflicts greatly reduced or eliminated. There are a number of ways that 3D printed clothing helps to move that dream towards reality, and raising awareness on those positive impacts is one of the main reasons I design.

A Technological Solution to Serious Environmental Problems

The materials that traditional garment production utilizes cause a lot of problems, and they’re only going to get worse over time.   We know that cotton production is highly dependant on chemicals and fertilizers causing massive environmental damage, and the chromium used in leather tanning is extremely harmful to the people that work with it and the environment it leaches into. But beyond that, we’re also running into a shortage of space.

Textile production is incredibly resource-intensive, and as time marches on, we’re going to get to the point where it just isn’t possible to keep doing it the way we currently do. Cotton production, for instance, requires huge amounts of water. Cotton is grown in India – an already water-starved country – uses 22,500 litres of water per kilogram grown. It also requires large swaths of land to be dedicated to the crop. Neither land nor fresh water is in ample supply and, thanks to climate change and human expansion, every year they only get scarcer.

Imagine a world like the one PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has, in which, as space and resources dwindle, people move seaward and into floating cities. Where would the resources and space needed to produce clothing come from?

3D printing provides a solution to this resource scarcity problem. Clothes produced with 3D printers utilize materials that don’t require the waste of millions of liters of precious fresh water or land that could be used to grow food, and the printers themselves, even large-scale ones, require very little space in comparison to traditional clothing factories. It’s an elegant technical solution to a pressing problem, and it means that as the world’s population grows and the land we have available to us shrinks, we can continue producing all of the clothing we need while directing our most important resources to where they should go – improving the lives of human beings.

Real Progress Towards Ethical Production Methods

There is a lot of talk in the fashion industry about ethical and sustainable production, but unfortunately, there’s very little action to go along with it. Because ‘sustainability’ is such a buzzword, people get the incorrect impression that we’ve made big strides in fixing the numerous environmental and human problems that come along with traditional garment production – but we haven’t. In reality, we’ve only taken the tiniest of baby steps.

Baby steps aren’t enough, and 3D printing allows us to take some enormous steps towards solving problems like unethical labor practices and out-of-control waste. For instance, clothing created on a 3D printer doesn’t require cutting or sewing, so the demand for cheap labor that drives sweatshops is eliminated from the production process. That has an enormously positive impact on the welfare of women and children all over the world.

The shift in the role of the worker isn’t the only change. The role of the end-consumer also changes, moving them from a passive consumption position to a place where they can be actively involved in the design of their own clothing. That new involvement results in the production clothes that consumers will be happy to wear for years rather than a single season, reducing the massive landfill problem that currently plagues the industry.

The 3D printing process is also extremely efficient in and of itself. Whereas traditional manufacturing produces an enormous amount of waste material, 3D printing uses only as much filament as is required to complete a design, so there is effectively no wasted material discarded during production.

An Opportunity for Everyone to Help Create Change

The reaction to my full line at Fashion Week was incredibly positive but as nice as it was to receive compliments on the visual or functional aspects of the designs, what I was most pleased with was the immensely positive response towards the potential impacts of the technology. I love fashion, and making beautiful clothing is incredibly important to me, but my passion is making a positive change in the industry I love. A huge number of women feel the same way I do, and while few will ever design their own clothing, a consumer wearing a 3D printed garment can do so knowing they’re making a positive contribution towards sustainability in fashion in a very real way.  

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1*

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/mar/20/cost-cotton-water-challenged-india-world-water-day

2*  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/floating-city-french-polynesia-2020-coast-islands-south-pacific-ocean-peter-thiel-seasteading-a8053836.html

Photo: Vita Zamchevska, Olya Helga, Julia Daviy 

Text: Julia Daviy

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