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  • Ava C. Green

3D-Printed Clothes: The Future of Fashion

By Ava C. Green, Features Editor

Current trends and styles are always changing and evolving, but the structure of clothing and materials used to create said clothing do not change nearly as often. Lately, I have seen fashion shows and magazine features showing off pieces of clothing constructed using 3D-print technology. Not only is 3D-printing making waves in the fashion industry, but it is also providing sustainable alternatives to traditional clothing production.

At Paris Fashion Week 2022, Iris van Herpen premiered her collection “Meta Morphisism” which was a collaboration with Magnum – yes, like the ice cream bars your mom likes – to bring the brand’s idea of a vegan and sustainable dress to life. While van Herpen is pretty well-versed in creating 3D-printed clothing, she specifically worked with the husks of cocoa beans to create a biomaterial to work with — a first for her and most contemporary couturiers. This material needed to somehow be compatible with the printing technology while still fitting with the iconic aesthetics of van Herpen. So, this obviously complex process meant that the 16 dresses in the collection each took three to four months to make, a testament to the immense amount of work, development and attention to detail that went into this very special runway show and collaboration.

Iris van Herpen is known for more edgy and sculptural pieces, but this collection raises the bar with designs that are perfect in their skeletal, regal and ethereal nature. One of her dresses was notably worn by Dove Cameron at the 2022 “Gilded Age” Met Gala. This dress was not part of the “Meta Morphisis” collection, but it was a custom, partially 3D-printed gown called “Spiral Nebula” made out of recycled mylar. I would call it a stunning gown, but it’s more, it’s a piece of art and a great proof that sustainability is beautiful. It made headlines and created even more of a buzz surrounding what van Herpen had in store for Paris fashion week coming up just months from then.

Iris van Herpen’s brand is high-end to say the least, the cost of her dresses range anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000. However, her work is a glimmer of hope for a future of fashion that is not dependent on methods of production that pollute our air, harm our animals or increase our waste. We constantly see the influence of designs by fashion houses on the runways trickle down into the mainstream. I truly hope that the message that Iris van Herpen made with these eco-friendly and eclectic garments will inspire smaller brands to try their hand at sustainable style.

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