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TECHNOLOGY For couture

TECHNOLOGY For couture clients who want something perfectly in their size, fitted to their body, 3D printing is perfect Casas and resembles a crystalline growth over the model’s body. It’s a couture-like creation – not least because you can’t sit down in it. “There are some flexible materials that you can print that come close to a [normal] dress in terms of comfort, but at the moment I cannot print a dress fullscale, in one piece, that’s flexible and super comfortable,” van Herpen admits. Nor can she print in silk or cotton. “I believe that the materials will get there, but it really depends on whether or not a big [fashion] house starts working in 3D.” When pushed, she estimates it could take “at least five years” before comfortable fabrics can be 3D printed – and that’s despite researchers’ experiments tracking the construction movements of silkworms to explore how their silk weaving could be reproduced artificially. Here’s the rub: wearable fashion this is not. Its closest cousin is haute couture, that luxurious, antiquated mode of custom-made, hand-stitched, one-off dressing formerly beloved of super-wealthy European and US socialites and now largely the preserve of oil-drenched Russians and Arabs. “For couture clients who want something perfectly in their size, fitted to their body, 3D printing is perfect,” van Herpen agrees. “But I don’t think mass production will be employing it in the near future because it is so costly.” Customisation, however, is one area where 3D printing could make a significant impression in fashion. “To me, the advent of 3D printing is not a wholesale revolution in manufacturing. It can only be a revolution in personalisation,” says Will Seymour, a senior analyst at Future Foundation, a London-based trend forecasting agency. “The technology should be seen as an opportunity to revolutionise customer service. The fashion industry needs to address a younger generation of consumer who is very keen to play with designs and to test out options. Brands should be inviting customers to ask, ‘Can you make one of these in black?’ rather than ‘I need such-and-such’.” Accessories designers are in on this game. The architectturned-shoe-designer Rem D Koolhaas – nephew of superstar architect namesake Rem Koolhaas without the D – has been employing 3D printing in prototyping shoe concepts and heels for his shoe brand, United Nude, for more than 15 years. Indeed, in 2013 he collaborated with van Herpen on a dramatic pair of Medusan shoes that looked like they were propped up on hundreds of tree roots or jellyfish tentacles. Less terrifyingly, “we also design simpler shoes that can be printed on the much smaller machines that some people have at home,” Koolhaas explains, while conceding that these “are not a replacement for conventional shoes” and adding, “3D printing won’t in the near future, or perhaps ever, replace serial production methods, but it is a great addition to the design toolbox.” Elsewhere, Nike’s experiments with 3D printing bore fruit last year with its Vapor Ultimate Cleat, a lightweight, sock-like football boot, while Continuum, a New Yorkbased design lab, is selling a line of 3D-printed urethane sandals inspired by Bernini’s statue of Apollo and Daphne. It’s easy to get carried away with the utopian narrative. Who doesn’t like the sound of “see a dress, print it!” as a solution to wardrobe dilemmas? But the reality is we are years away from most people printing 3D objects at home. Alex Newson, the curator of The Future is Here – a touring exhibition by London’s Design Museum which examines the claim that digital technologies could precipitate the next industrial revolution – also makes a valid point: “The process by which something is made is largely irrelevant for consumers. What we care about is how it works, what it costs, and what it looks like.’ For the time being, 3D printing’s fashion niche appears to be solely in prototyping. 44 j THE DYNAMIC ISSUE

Wearable tech by Borre Akkersdijk (left) features Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth components to turn the wearer into a walking internet access point. Sporty examples from Nike include the HyperAgility football boot (above) and the intricately woven Vapor Ultimate Cleat boot (above right). Van Herpen’s 3D dress and shoes (right) Until the materials used to create clothes become beautiful – rather than merely adequate and in most cases, highly uncomfortable – their use will be seldom. That said, advances are being made in 3D weaving and knitting, by which fabric is woven in interconnecting tubes and layered at different heights to provide a third dimension. It’s these kinds of developments that may increase the uptake in wearable technology. Dutchman Borre Akkersdijk has created the BB.suit made out of 3D printed fabrics whose fibres contain Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth components to turn the wearer into a walking internet access point. Printing in conductive electrical yarns and inserting the chips needed for Wi-Fi into the gaps between tubes of fabric could allow for much more seamless integration of clothing and connectivity. How long before your sweater picks up your racing heartbeat and links you with an online dating agency? Or until your T-shirt detects a hint of perspiration and directs you to an air-conditioning vent? We’re back in that utopian narrative again. Perhaps it’s mindful, therefore, to remind ourselves of the raw truth about printers: that they can be the most exasperating tool of modern life. Out of ink, out of paper, misaligned margins, paper jams, overheated – printers can be the bane of the office. For the sake of our blood pressure alone, perhaps it’s best if 3D printing remains something of a mirage: enjoyed unknowingly – for now at least. THE DYNAMIC ISSUE j 45




Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.

In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.


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