Sustainable Haute Couture Through 3D Printing

By Audrey Stanton

Have you heard of 3D printing? It sounds incredibly futuristic and hard to image as a part of our current reality. While the technology remains in niche circles currently, the future seems bright for the innovative tool. Some known brands have embraced the computer-generated technology, like Nike and Adidas, while others have used it just for show. Can it change fashion for good? We’ll have to wait and see! 

How Does 3D Printing Work? 

The process takes computer technology and puts it through a process which then creates a three-dimensional object. Referred to as computer-aided design (CAD), the technology changes the way goods can be made, even clothing. The 3D printing process includes adding multiple layers on top of each other in order to create a finished product. Bikinis, dresses, shoes, and more have been made with this technology! Items easier to produce through this process include jewellery and shoes while making full garments proves more difficult. This technology remains inaccessible to the masses, though growing in popularity by the day. 

3d printing fashion
Iris Van Herpen 3D Printing

What Makes it Sustainable? 

Since 3D printing comes from designs created with computer technology, the process produces zero waste. Customers can customize each piece if the brand allows, increasing the possibility of longer use garments. The opportunity for clothing to turn into textile waste lessens greatly when items feel personal customers. In addition, this technology has the ability to use sustainable materials such as recycled plastic. Once a 3D printed garment has reached the end of its life, it can easily be broken down and reused.

Not all 3D printing leads to sustainable fashion, though many designers continue to create responsibly with the new technology. At the end of the day, just like any design tool, this fashion technology changes depending on who utilizes it. 

3d printed
Iris Van Herpen 3D Printed Fashion

Why Does 3D Printing Mean Haute Couture? 

Customization and bespoke clothing have always been a part of high fashion. This type of technology easily connects with luxury brands due to their ability to do both. Fashion made with this technology currently represents clothing in the category of haute couture rather than streetwear. Actors and actresses have worn 3D printed garments on red carpets and models have strutted down runways wearing them. For now, 3D will stay in experimental fashion spaces and hopefully become accessible to all in the future.

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