A visionary of 3-D-printed fashion 1

A visionary of 3-D-printed fashion

2014  By Alexa McMahon, The Boston Globe,

A visionary of 3-D-printed fashion
Imagine that: Perfectly tailored clothes, printed just for you
Featuring: 3-D Printed Dress in collaboration with Iris Van Herpen, Prof. W. Craig Carter, Keren Oxman and Stratasys. Produced by Stratasys.

By Alexa McMahon

From the website: READY-TO-WEAR FASHION WEEKS held around the world featuring designers’ fall and spring collections give a glimpse into the short-term future: what’s coming next season to streets and stores. But in January of last year, at Paris’s Haute Couture shows, the traditional home for high-end, handcrafted work of houses including Chanel and Dior, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen and MIT Media Lab associate professor Neri Oxman took a longer view, strutting into the future with a one-of-a-kind 3-D-printed cape and skirt. The designers say the garment is unique in the fashion world and represents a new way of engineering clothing. “The capabilities of 3-D printing enable designers to reinterpret age-old couture traditions and replace needlework with code,” Oxman writes in an e-mail. “Imagine, no seams.” In traditional fashion manufacturing using textiles, flat material is cut and then shaped — certain pieces are removed and sewn together into a garment and the scraps discarded — to fit the body. By contrast, in 3-D printing (these pieces were produced by a company called Stratasys, with headquarters in both the United States and Israel) the body is scanned and that information is used to achieve a design that fits perfectly and is built from raw materials — in this case, a combination of rigid and flexible materials Stratasys won’t identify. Oxman will explain why they’re special: “The materials used for the dress, unlike 3-D-printed wearables previously seen on the runway, were flexible and enabled us to design for movement.” Thinking farther into the future, imagine printing your garments at home. Personal 3-D printers are available today on some office-supply-store websites for less than $1,000. Limited by a 5.5-inch-cube printing space and the available printing materials (compostable or recyclable plastic), we’re not all printing our own shirts and pants — yet. But Oxman sees this becoming a reality once the technical hurdles are overcome. As designers begin “rethinking what clothing is and what functions it can deliver,” she says, the structure and materials we use will need to be reimagined. For now, Museum of Fine Arts curator Michelle Finamore is watching Oxman’s work. Last year, the museum bought the roughly 15-pound van Herpen design for its permanent collection. “Three-D printing is the wave of the future in many ways,” says Finamore, noting that the Textile and Fashion Arts Department used Fashion Council funds for the purchase. And this dress, she says, “represents what is happening now.”

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