Everyone knows who Sylvia Heisel is. The early adopter of wearable technology is one of the most recognised pioneers of Fashion Technology. She is not about the trends, she is instead all about the movement of combining sustainability, functionality and wearability.
This is a movement that Heisel has been attempting to achieve through exploring the possibilities and capabilities of 3D printing. Aware of its limitations, Heisel and her design partner Scott Taylor want to integrate new technologies with wearable tech. They want to show that it is possible to design and create ‘new’ sustainable clothing that is both minimalistic and easy on the eye .
Challenging fashion’s traditional ways of producing clothes is something that Heisel does not shy away from. She recently shared with 3ders.org; “Fashion is always supposed to be about what’s new, but there’s nothing ‘new’ that’s ever really happening. What’s new is what you can do with new technologies. Here’s this giant industry where there’s so many issues in terms of sustainability, labor issues, and yet we’re not exploring enough of the new ways to make things. Approaching that as a fashion designer, I think 3D printing is an amazing new way of making things, and that’s where my base interest began.”
The duo predict that the way forward, when it comes to 3Dprinting, is to merge it with carbon fiber clothing so as to avoid 3D printed garments looking like plastic. On this Taylor explains that they have “discovered Proto-pasta which has this beautiful matte finish that just looks great. It makes all the difference in the appearance of the clothes.”
Using this method back in 2015, Heisel and Taylor managed to come up with a futuristic sleek matte black carbon fiber 3D printed dress with links that have been individually printed and then pieced together. They also designed a 3D printed ‘letter dress’ connected with metal rings that spelled out : “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Recently, the out of the box pioneers introduced us to Ninjaflex, a flexible filament that they used to create a 3D printed dress and coat that was designed to “flow with the body, and create an almost fluid sense of movement”. With zero waste, the made-to-order pieces were made with 3D printed ‘fabric’ that was physically welded so as to create a durable garment.
Although they have shown that 3D printing can create striking pieces, we are still left wondering whether the future of fashion is truly going to be 3D printing, because it took Heisel and Taylor 400 hours to 3Dprint the Ninjaflex coat. It is this realisation that makes manufacturing and mass production is currently an impractical option not to mention the cost. Addressing this problem Heisel shared, “There’s so many learning curves in 3D printing right now. There’s so many limits to how well the machines work, and the materials, it’s all still very hands-on. I don’t think we’re at a stage where there is 100% digital design. Especially not with desktop machines.”
That being said, Heisel and Taylor have made a commitment to explore the possibilities and the potentials available today so they can improve tomorrow. They plan to experiment with every material, manufacturing process, and machines that they can get their hands on. It will be through 3D printing education that the next generation of fashion designers can use the improved technology to design and create collections that are not only affordable but accessible by everyone.