FashTech x 3D Printing

Learn to engineer your own clothes and make them to fit YOUR unique shape. Through this process we are empowering women (and men) to learn 3D modeling and also to redefine the way they present themselves to the world. 3D printing technology is re-forming fashion and feminism.

3D Printed Versace Gown on Kate Hudson, Met Gala 2016.

Kate Hudson’s Atelier Versace 3D Printed White Sheer Strapless Gown Featuring Studded Panels and Pleated Tulle Skirt as seen at the Met Gala 2016.

Fashion is increasing finding inspiration in technology. Look at the current fashion tech exhibition up at the Metropolitan Art Museum and the parallel theme of the Met Gala this year: Manus x Machina — Fashion in an Age of Technology.

Fiber-optic Zac Posen gown on Claire Danes, Met Gala 2016.

Claire Danes’ looked Cinderella-esque in her incandescent Zac Posen gown, illuminating the room as night fell. The organza of the gown was woven with innovative ultra-thin fiber-optic fibers.

Cognitive LED Marchesa gown on Karolina Kurkova, Met Gala 2016.

Karolina Kurkova’s ‘cognitive’ Marchesa x IBM gown employed a conductive fabric and embedded with 150 LED lights with colors changing in reaction to the sentiments of Kurkova’s Twitter followers.

We have seen centuries of change in fashion since the sewing machine was first invented in 1790 by Englishman Thomas Saint.

How will technology and, specifically 3D printing, begin to change the landscape of women’s fashion and in the process redefine notions of luxury and femininity?

Dita Von Teese, 2013 (Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti).

3D Printed Luxury: A New Couture Gown

Above is an image of Dita Von Teese in a fully articulated 3D printed woven gown designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitoni. These printed textiles represent a new wave of fashion democracy, access to high fashion and redefining the notion of ‘couture’.

The very definition of haute couture gowns is that only a select handful of customers can afford these 10K plus custom gowns made uniquely for each individual. The term haute couture is protected by law in France and is defined by the Paris Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris). To earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, a fashion house must follow these rules:

  1. Design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings.
  2. Have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time.
  3. Each season (i.e. twice a year) present a collection to the Paris press, comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear.

3D printing now means that ‘couture’ is accessible to the masses. You can print a custom made gown for the price of plastic filament it takes to make it — as long as you know how to engineer…

3D Printed For You: Individuality + Feminism in Fashion Through the Ages

Beyond, accessibility, 3D printing is allowing us the ability to create clothes that fit our unique bodies. Finally we can say goodbye to sizes 0–12. We can make bras that fit our unique busts and pants that fit our distinct waists and hips. Nothing will be standardized.

Looking back on feminism and fashion over the course of the twentieth century, some memorable moments include Coco Chanel’s suit in the post WWI 20s and 30s, bra burning in the 60s, DVF’s wrap dress in the 70s and now — individualized and ‘cognitive’ fashion becoming increasingly more accessible through technology and 3D printing.

Chanel, 1920 currently on display at the Met.
Chanel, 2016 currently on display at the Met (Karl Lagerfeld).
Coco Chanel reinventing men’s fashion for women, 1920s.

The iconic “suit” by Coco Chanel reinvented women and suiting, and has become a feminist symbol in fashion. Coco rebelled against societal and fashion norms and reinvented men’s clothing for women. DVF created a power dress for women in the 70s, collared and work appropriate but also easy to take on and off, symbolizing sexual freedom.

Where are we now?

Chromat, 2016.

New technology is re-forming the way we think about clothing and the female body. 3D printing in particular is becoming increasingly powerful for individuality and non-conformity. Literally through 3D printing, we can invent new bra shapes and dress sizes. One of my favorite 3D printed fashion designers is Becca McCarren of Chromat.

Fash-tech symbolizes a freedom of expression. Cognitive clothing is a display of emotion draped on the human form. 3D printing can be completely personalized.

KiraKira, 2016.

Female accessibility to technology and especially to 3D modeling software, is something we are very passionate about at KiraKira. We want the next generation of designers and engineers to be equally female and male. If we are to achieve this, we need to start introducing girls to mechanical engineering concepts at an earlier age. Today in the U.S., 80% of girls lose interest and proficiency in math and science by the time they are entering high school.

KiraKira.com is a free e-learning site for girls interested in STEAM.

Some of our class content could be categorized as ‘girlie’, but beyond jewelry, textiles and masks we teach our students to make skateboards, crazy straws and really anything that is interesting to them. Our female-focused content and teachers are relevant and compelling, offering an alternative to the male-focused current curricula taught by men and teaching product design like wrenches and auto-parts. Our classes are meant to break stereotypes not reinforce them through engaging, visual learning of mechanical engineering software and modeling programs like Autodesk Inventor/Fusion/Maya, Rhino and Solidworks.

We teach women transferrable skills in mechanical engineering: a field currently dominated by men (only 7% of mechanical engineers in the US are female). Through our classes students learn to make textiles in Autodesk (programs used by a multitude of engineering and design professionals), chairs in Rhino (program used by architects) and intricate Venetian masks in Solidworks (program used by aerospace and mechanical engineers).

KiraKira is a community of learning, created by young women and taught by young women with content specifically crafted for young women. We have young women coming to us daily who are passionate about women in STEAM and these women have become our teachers. And we would love for you to get involved if you read this and feel passionate about this cause.

Get started with this 3D printed textile class taught by our Milan-based designer, Sabrina Facchetti.

View it in 3D:


Get started with us and discover the artist, designer or engineer in you.