Friday, 15 March 2013

Your Style, Your Way

The crosspoints between high technology and high fashion have always been a prime source of fascination for this blog. 3D printing has already made it possible for designers to create and prototype jewellery and footwear directly from the computer screen to the palm of their hand. Companies like Shapeways will allow you to fire up a CAD package, whip up a bracelet or ring and send it to their printing works. A week or so later, it's delivered to your door. And we're not talking something made out of cheap plastic either. Ceramic and metal objects can be created easily.
So, where next? Well, logically, the next step is to design and print your own clothes. Imagine a package that would allow you to clothe a virtual mannequin, putting together the exact line and drape of fabric, with a pattern that you've uploaded yourself, that then gets sent away to a printing facility and burnt to product. Hey presto, you're a fashion designer. How far away is this? Funny you should ask...

This brings up all kinds of interesting questions. If you can print your own clothing to your exact specifications, then what exactly are clothes shops and designers for? Is it likely that, say twenty years in the future, Top Shop would have gone the way of HMV?
I don't think so. For one thing, designing your own clothes is a bit more difficult than popping to the shops for a quick retail fix. And, for the time being at least, it's not a cheap option. It would be interesting to see a simpified model for this, whereby you can customise existing profiles, tweaking them for an exact fit or the perfect colour. The notion of clothing coming in off-the-peg sizing could change on the high street, bringing a more bespoke feel. If something's a bit baggy on the hips, just nudge a vector in a bit.
From there, it's an easy step towards a 3D scan of your own body that you could upload to the site, and the clothing profile would automatically adjust to fit. That's something that I would be very happy to see--as a lanky, long-limbed bloke with no hips to speak off, buying jeans that fit and shirts with long enough sleeves is something of a chore.
Of course, you could argue that this is a model that Pier32 has embraced for years. A huge range of clothes in a wide variety of styles and colours, that you can customise with your own artwork? We've had you covered on that front since 1984.

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