3D-Printed Clothes Have Been Reserved For Runways, But This Entrepreneur Just Changed That

"In order to push innovation forward, we must sometimes do things that are barely possible."

In 2015, fashion design student Danit Peleg spent 2,000 hours 3D printing an entire collection using only home printers. The outfits she made included cocktail dresses, maxi skirts, crop tops, and even a pair of heels. Many other designers have sent their models down the runway in 3D-printed fashion before and after Peleg, but she hopes to make 3D-printed garments more accessible. 

"It's no secret that due to technological constraints, 3D-printed clothes have been the domain of unique, oftentimes, one-off items reserved only for runways," Peleg told A Plus. "Printing time and material constraints make printing clothes an expensive endeavor, hampering attempts at mass production. But in order to push innovation forward, we must sometimes do things that are barely possible."


"I am inspired by technologists that always push the envelope further and try things that people say are impossible."

Peleg believes 3D-printed garments can revolutionize the fashion industry, so she decided to do something about it. "I wanted to see why no one is selling 3D-printed garments online, and to see if people are ready for ready to wear 3D-printed garments," she said. "This is why today I am launching the first online platform to purchase 3D-printed clothes." 

Her newly launched website has one 3D-printed item for sale so far, and it's one that holds some special meaning for Peleg: a jacket. The first 3D-printed garment she ever created was a red jacket she called the "Liberte." 

"I called it the "Liberte" jacket because in French that means 'freedom' and I felt empowered and free to create any design I wanted and then to print it by myself in 3D," Peleg explained. 

Her new limited edition bomber jacket design is called "Imagine" and features a flexible, rubber-like material with a silky fabric lining to make it comfortable to wear. Customers can customize their one-of-a-kind jacket online by choosing from 14 different colored fabrics, 12 different linings, and any text they'd like printed on the back. To make sure the jacket fits perfectly, Peleg will hold a virtual fitting session using the Nettelo app, which makes it easy to take your measurement with your phone. 

Each unique jacket takes more than 100 hours to print and assemble, so Peleg is only making 100 of them at this time. They'll be produced in Spain and ship from Tel Aviv. 

Unlike the 3D-printed clothes that have appeared on the runway, this 3D-printed garment is available online for anyone to purchase. But that doesn't mean anyone can afford it. The cost of a customized, 3D-printed jacket that takes 100 hours to make will set a customer back $1,500. 

"[That] may sound like a lot, but remember, the first versions of personal computers or mobile phones also cost a lot and now are much cheaper," Peleg said. "Technology always improves in an exponential way. That means that what costs relatively a lot today will become cheaper and cheaper over the next few years." 

She believes 3D-printed fashion will become more affordable because she's already seen the technology improve so much in less than two years. "Just a year and a half ago, it took me around 300 hours to print every garment. Today, it's three times faster," she said. "I'm sure printers will continue to become faster and faster and prices of 3D-printed fashion will drop accordingly."

And, here's to hoping it does, because it could potentially help to reduce textile waste. 

"Because of the way 3D printing works, printing is very accurate and produces literally no waste when printing the jackets as opposed to regular fabric that always produces waste," Peleg said. "3D-printing is made on-demand so there will be no inventory and again, less waste. Also, if people can print clothes locally, there will be less shipping, which means less pollution." 

In addition, 3D-printed fashion can make it easier for newbies to break into the industry. "When you can 'download' clothes, it will unlock so many new opportunities to new designers. Designs may become 'viral' just like videos became viral on Youtube. This could change the way people produce and consume fashion forever." 

Plus, it sounds like a lot of fun. Fashion has always been a way for people to express themselves and allow their personalities to shine through with just a glance. With this technology, people would be able to customize and personalize their garments to fit their needs and interests — and have them printed on-demand. 

Peleg hopes to help us get to that point. 

"I want to continue pushing this technology further," she said. "I also want to get more designers and brands to my platform so they can also start selling 3D-printed clothes." 

Here's to hoping we'll all be able to afford zero-waste 3D-printed fashion someday. 


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