So, finally, the dreaded September with its "See-Now-Buy-Now" revolution is slowly approaching. Burberry and Tom Ford are getting ready to show their new collections on the runways and make them immediately available in stores and online. Yet, when you think about it, you genuinely wonder if we really need it and what will happen not in one month's or six months' time, but in a few years', when innovative techniques that emerged only recently will finally be mastered and perfected.
Think about it: last year Danit Peleg designed and then 3D printed her graduate collection for her Fashion Design degree at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, using flexible FilaFlex filament, a thermoplastic elastomer with a polyurethane base, and Witbox home printers.
The collection involved a long process: helped by the Tel-Aviv-based 3D-printing lab TechFactoryPlus and the XLN community, Peleg developed five designs and employed more than 2,000 hours to print them.
The main inspiration was Eugène Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People", but the patterns for the textile structures moved from an open-source file designed by an architect, Andreas Bastian's Mesostructured Cellular Materials.
The results varied, and included a jacket featuring the French word Liberté on the back, a long striped skirt matched with a cropped top and a dresses, all pre-measured so that the designer didn't cut or waste any materials. You could argue that there have been better looking and most striking creations by more experienced and accomplished designers, but that wasn't the point of the collection.
Peleg made indeed a few points, proving that one day we will be able to print our own clothes at home, while she also tackled further key issues, she looked indeed into the possibilities that architecture, technology and science are offering designers and prompted people to think about a future in which we won't be buying a dress, but maybe its model and print it at home customizing it as much as we want (in many ways this is a return to the '50s when it was popular to buy magazines with cutting patterns and then make your own clothes...).
Besides, Peleg is also planning to put her designs on an open source software, which leads us to legal issues and to the fact that we may have to establish new rules when it comes to intellectual property restrictions in conjunction with fashion.
Yes, in many ways, this is a dream from a distant sci-fi future, but then again technology moves on a fast track and the last five years have brought crucial changes in our lives, jobs and research processes.
And while you wonder if synthetic materials will ever replace luxurious soft leather, impalpable silks and sensual cashmere, the vision of a future in which we could print at home a dress from a plastic-based synthetic material and recycle it immediately afterwards (so far FilaFlex washes better in dishwashers than in washing machines, but why bothering washing something that could be maybe melted and recycled?) is incredibly tempting.
In a recently published interview with the online edition of Vogue US, Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey invited the magazine to walk into the creative laboratory of Burberry's London HQ and highlighted the fact that there they do have embroiderers, people involved with photography, music, architecture, 3-D printers, and even a whole group of coders.
In a nutshell, the fashion industry acknowledges the power of technology and is keen on pushing it, the only problem is that some luxury houses and famous fashion brands may not have recognized yet the fact that technology may be helping it for the time being, while at the same time destroying it from within.
3D printing a garment at home may indeed even bring in (when the prices of printers and materials will go down more...) a new and more genuine phase in the so-called democratization of fashion that has so far consisted in wealthy people buying original designs and with all the rest of us buying cheap imitations produced by fast fashion retailers.
Somehow you get the ominous feeling that fashion can speed up as much as it wants, but technology will still be faster, becoming a tangible threat to the industry rather than one of the many paths towards its glorious resurrection.
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