Every other season since the advent of 3D printing, gushing writeups would signal how soon the new-fangled invention was out to change the textiles-fashion world. If you go back only a few years back the lane for a recap of those articles, you would feel as though it (the change) has already taken place. Unfortunately, none of those things have happened. The eternal optimists are as unreliable (as forecasters) naysayers who, without a whim or a fancy, are certain that nothing will change.
People are still gushing over prospects and promises as they had a few years ago. And much of the change that is taking place or has already transpired are more in the research and development (R&D) space than in retail. If something can’t be seen does not mean that it does not exist.
The lethargy of the fashion world in adapting to technology is legion. That’s the primary reason why one does not see a flurry of 3D activities in this industry. Second, this industry is known to wait for the usual first movers or leaders to do the first round of experiments. After that, the herd follows. This is not about thumbing a nose at industry; that’s how it usually works.
Quite a few of the leaders have already made their moves. Brands under LVMH have for quite some time employed 3D printing to make prototypes of their products. Five years ago, the group had announced, "Eco-design is a pillar of the LVMH Group’s environmental policy in order to reduce the environmental impact of products throughout their lifecycle." The reliance on 3D printing was mentioned, but almost as a footnote: "To design products that are as sustainable as possible, LVMH has developed an ever-expanding range of resources for teams in charge of design, development and marketing. These tools include an application that calculates the environmental performance index (IPE) and an online materials library containing hundreds of innovative and environment-friendly materials suited to the luxury industry. LVMH Maisons also draw on other forward-facing technologies such as digital design and 3D printing."
Even a year before this, LVMH brand Louis Vuitton had opened at Westfield shopping centre in Sydney, what was believed to be the world’s first 3D printed pop-up store. Louis Vuitton has worked with 3D print specialist Omus to create a 968 sq ft structure in a matter of 18 days. In November 2021, the Jumeirah beach in Dubai became the site of a fascinating architectural innovation that housed a Dior pop-up store. The spaces were designed in collaboration with the Italian firm WASP, whose mission is to create 3D printed eco-housing from natural materials.
The latter examples are nothing exclusive to fashion—anyone can do it anywhere.