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Tailoring is increasingly digital. The fashion industry is 3D!


You read that right. Technology, thanks to 3D printing, has accessed even the fashion realms, and tailoring as we know it could change in the near future.

As proof, the following intriguing success stories say it all. These individuals are among those leading the way in this relatively new and fascinating trade. 

Danit Peleg – one of the pioneers of 3D printing fashion

Danit is a fashion designer located in Tel Aviv, Israel, known for her 3D printed fashion work, which made waves in the fashion and tech worlds. 

She started experimenting on a 3D printer at her home with different filaments, adding different materials like colored powder. Understandably, at first her roommates weren`t enthusiastic with the mess. Eventually, she started working on bigger machines and 3D printers in a lab, even during night time. 

Danit`s achievements in chronological order

2014 - She designed her first 3D jacket and never looked back

2015 - Opened her first studio dedicated to 3D printing

2016 - Danit designed a 3D printed dress for Amy Purdy, who is an American actress, model, para-snow boarder, motivational speaker, clothing designer herself and author. Amy won bronze in the 2014 and silver in the 2018 Paralympics, and she`s a co-founder of Adaptive Action Sports. Amy wore Danit`s dress during a dance performance in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Paralympics

2017 - A limited edition of 3D 100 Bomber jackets set was created for $1,500 each, while clients could get their own customized jackets printed 

2018 - She organized a 3-day workshop on 3D printed fashion, where 15 international students could learn about her design process. During the same year she was also recognized by Forbes as one of Europe`s 50 most influential women in tech

2019 - Named as one of BBC 100 Women

2020 - Danit starts offering digital files for customers to download and print at their nearest 3D print shop, it`s like an app store for clothes called Beauty You Can Build

Danit is also a consultant to other fashion companies, and a TED speaker, while she was featured in renowned magazines like Vogue, New York Times and Women`s Wear Daily.

On www.danitpeleg.com, Danit invites us to discover the world of 3D printed fashion, expanding the boundaries, in tandem with prolific partners in the industry like Gerber and Moon to name two. Among other things, on her website there`s an online shop, or you can simply kick start designing, and even a workshop where beginners can enroll for $289.     

Danit and her team are eager to keep pushing the boundaries of 3D printing fashion, passionate to challenge the ecosystem to develop new materials, new printing techniques and software breakthroughs, while cutting down on waste and pollution in the process.

Michael Schmidt - High fashion has gone high tech

Designer Michael, of Michael Schmidt Studios, who dressed celebrities like Madonna, Cher and Black Eyed Peas, was adamant to make 3D printing fashion as sensuous as he could, so he went to the Queen of burlesque fashion – Dita Von Teese. The dress was made from 17 printed pieces, with 3,000 articulated joints and over 13,000 Swarovski crystals! A really unique tech couture. 


How it was designed?

Michael explained that they took an image of Dita`s body and created her virtually, mirroring her on their computer. The code created was then sent to Shapeways (3D printing service with HQ in New York) who printed the parts of the dress. Selective laser sintering (SLS) fused together this nylon design. Michael explained that it was literally made from nylon powder from the base of the 3D printer going upwards in the dress, piece by piece.


Is 3D printing a passing fancy or really the future of fashion?

Well, the present disadvantages are that dresses like the one Dita wore, take hundreds of hours to 3D print, and end up costing over $100,000. Also, the materials used, the mechanical assembly and the three-dimensional design require experts in the field, who will obviously include their bill in the end product, which will weigh on any interested company or start-up. 

According to Michael, this is not strictly the future of fashion, but it`s another tool to create forms, for one to design in a particular way, which way needs a 3D printer. As Michael adds, in Dita`s case, the dress wasn`t made for everyday use, but rather for fantasy, to impress on a specific occasion.

Fabbaloo – Publishers of 3D news

Short intro to Fabbaloo, who publish the latest general news in 3D printing design, how it works, and tips, so not strictly linked with 3D fashion only. They also keep up to scratch with hardware and software involved, and general 3D ideas. It was created in October 2007 by Canadian Kerry Stevenson, who has fascinated by the idea of 3D printing by Star Trek, decades ago. True story. Kerry is now Fabbaloo`s founder and editor, he writes under pseudonym “General Fabb”. 

On their website Fabbaloo explain that they believe in a future where 3D printing technology will be routinely used for products, parts and objects. They intend to keep us up to date with what`s going on in the 3D world thanks to their publishing news and analysis.

Sophy Wong`s 3D dress

Back to strictly fashion now, and Fabbaloo published in a Design of the Week article, you guessed it, a 3D printed dress, this time by designer Sophy Wong

Sophy is a well-known designer who has produced a number of fascinating projects, but her specialty is wearable technology, and that`s what this 3D dress is all about. 

Sophy explained that they printed objects on top of a mesh structure with the latter providing flexibility. Now using Filamentum PLA as filament (material used) to make the dress, isn`t flexible per se, so they went around it, adding other materials like mesh to reduce rigidness in the dress.

Since the complete dress will end up obviously larger than a standard 3D printer, it`s printed in segments and panels, with thermoplastic bonding layers creating the structure. As one can imagine, wearing this type of dress could be uncomfortable, so Sophy added a silk taffeta on the inside, also to provide stability to the whole dress. It came out that the dress wasn`t only wearable but also comfortable. A hidden zipper adds the ultimate touch, making two separate pieces of the dress seem like one piece.   

How Sophy Wong created the Cyber Punk jacket

On her YouTube channel, Sophy takes us on a journey to explain how this unique jacket was created. It started out as a plain faux leather jacket, while Sophy added a number of programmable LEDs on the shoulders and back areas, with all the wires hidden in the lining of the jacket, quite Punk-ish, which was her intention. She placed the battery pack and a remote in one of the pockets, to change light colors and patterns. 

Where does the 3D printing get involved? I hear you asking. Well, what made these LEDs special were the hexagonal diffuser panels made by Sophy with her 3D printer. She printed these panels directly onto mesh fabric, pausing and resuming the 3D printing to insert the mesh fabric, sandwiching the panels in the mesh. 

Sophy mentioned David Shorey (Shorey Designs), and Billie Ruben (Billierubenmakes) as two of the pioneers who introduced this type of style. Sophy added that there are a number of tutorials out there showing the method of this particular 3D printing, then went on to demonstrate all the process and how she did it on her video. 

Regarding material used for this jacket, and specifically where the hexagonal diffuser panels reside, she used nylon mesh also called net or tulle, basically like the ones used for ballet tutus, which she buys on spools, irons it down and cuts sizes for her 3D printer. Different types of mesh for different types of designs. Sophy reminded that one needs to leave some room around the design to tape the fabric to the printer bed. This will result in flexible designs with soft mesh and rigid printed 3D objects. 

Sophy closed her YouTube video by showing us the guts of the jacket, unseaming it and demonstrating all the wiring for the LEDs which she didn`t pull or straighten, but rather left generously flowing, though fixed in place. Obviously, there are holes in the jacket for the LEDs to shine through. Ultimately it is the creator`s or designer`s decision on how many LEDs or which patterns to use, and how much 3D complex they want it to be. 

Safety in 3D printing

Sophy emphasized on safety. One needs to be confident in 3D printing, know their 3D printer well, and for this particular method, know how to pause and resume printing correctly, or even halt it if things go wrong. She added that for this type of printing she doesn`t leave the printer working overnight on its own, or goes out while it prints, but rather stick around and monitors the printing process. Also, she reminded us to always watch out for the hot printer areas namely the bed and nozzle.


I trust that you agree that these were some interesting stories from the 3D printing fashion world, fascinating indeed. Is this the future of tailoring, or are they just fancy alternatives, or even expensive hobbies? Time will tell. However, one thing is sure, 3D printing is alive and kicking in the fashion industry. So, go on, take your chances, invest, who knows, you might be the next 3D fashionista!