Fashion Forward: 3D Printing Establishes a New Style

3D-printed fashion styles are all the rage these days, but you already knew that, right? Only joking.

This year at the New York Fashion Week, established designers like Bradley Rothenberg, Katie Gallagher, and Katya Leonovich employed printed textiles to create one-of-a-kind handbags, blouses, and skirts.

Katya Leonovich
Katya Leonovich

Shaped to fit the wearer’s body perfectly, these designs mark the start of a new era in fashion that will only get stranger from here. Why not take their lead and try printing your own clothes and accessories at home?

At this stage, the average personal-use 3D printers are capable of making nearly any fashion item that you can think of. To get you started, here are four ideas for your next trendsetting piece:

1. Clothing: If you’re looking for 3D-printed couture that’s customized to fit your profile, there are a number of options online to expand your wardrobe.

For example, designer Janne Kyttanen’s Lost Luggage collection uses a minimalist chain of printed textiles that don’t need to be sewed together. Resembling a high-fashion version of chain mail, you’ll find a gorgeous drape dress, fingerless driving gloves, and other accessories that all employ this flexible material.

On the men’s side of 3D-printed fashion, there are special ties and gloves, and an interchangeable watchband collection from boutique brand NOOKA, that also use this fiber material, so you can make a statement at the office while still keeping in line with dress codes.

2. Accessories: Right now, this is the frontier of home-printed goods, since accessories are usually smaller and less complex to fabricate than full outfits.

Start with a premade design — Freshfiber currently makes a range of earrings, pendants, bracelets, and necklaces with intricate geometric shapes. Many of them are packaged products that you can order, but a few designs can be downloaded and printed at home, such as the Bespiked Pendant, which combines mesh and spiky shapes to create a brash look.

3. Shoes: Free downloads also extend to the shoe world, where you can adapt Freshfiber’s design files to make high-heeled shoes in a few unconventional styles.

My personal favorite is the Facet, which looks like a psychedelic vector drawing on your feet, and can be printed at home overnight. Freshfiber also makes a striking platform shoe called the Mashup, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: a mix of different 3D printing techniques all on one bold shoe. Did I mention that it comes in pink and yellow?

4. Tech Fashion: On the more practical end of fashion, you’ll find some groundbreaking case designs to protect your phone or tablet. Designers like Maria Cichy have found some ingenious ways to recreate the texture and look of materials like stingray skin, barracuda scales, and volcanic rock. If you’re an aspiring designer, though, you can select your own colors, images, and effect filters to create your own case too.

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