3D printing challenges fashion luxury brands

3D printing is an additive technology

which creates three-dimensional

objects by laying thin layers atop each other.

In fashion, traditionally melting or laser sintering is utilized. The machine moves from left to right until an item is stacked into form.  Laser sintering technology allows users to cut into materials to create a type of lattice work or allows you to cut into an already formed object to form another object such as a necklace or bracelet charm. Consumers are buying several 3D printed pieces but are unaware of how the item is being manufactured. Since 3D printing within fashion is in a relatively early stage, many designers and brands are not advertising their use of the technology.

Berlin-based VOJD Studios, a company that specializes in 3D-printed accessories for high fashion houses, admits:

"We are firm believers that classic 
craftsmanship 
and new technologies should not be juxtaposed; 
on the contrary, it is the symbiosis between tradition 
and innovation that catalyses progress. 
In our projects, we try to adopt the best of both worlds. 
3D printing is the main manufacturing technology we use,
 but the finishing of the products involves 
a lot of precise manual work and traditional skilled 
craftsmanship – a collaborative approach that 
we believe would push forward the applications 
of digital manufacturing in the future."

 
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Craftsmanship changes its skin with the 3D printing of K. Herdewyn

Having an international overview of the development of fashion linked with craftsmanship, the Belgian footwear designer Katrien Herdewyn represents a clear example of tradition combined with technology and modernity, such as 3D printing. With a background in engineering, material sciences, and nanotechnology, the young designer is breaking down fashion boundaries and creating some truly remarkable footwear pieces with the help of traditional shoemaking techniques and 3D printing.

In 2014, Herdewyn founded her own shoe label, Elegnano, which has continually emphasized the use of 3D printing technologies and continued use of traditional Italian craftsmanship. As the designer points out, however, she is not simply interested in using 3D modeling and printing technologies for the sake of using them, but has found that they have allowed for new possibilities in terms of creative shoe designs.

“With my background in engineering, I try and combine 
new technologies with traditional craftsmanship,” 
Herdewyn explained in an interview. 

“I believe this is where the future lies. 
3D printing offers so many possibilities; you can 
do anything you can imagine. But when it comes to shoes,
 a designer always has to take into account that you 
have to be able to wear and walk in the shoe.
I want to design shoes that 
are high tech and high fashion at the same time.”

Herdewyn’s Elegnano label features very elegantly designed but stunning shoes, described as determined, fashionable, and graceful all at once. The collection, which is aimed at a relatively exclusive commercial market (with prices ranging between 400 and 700 euros), is only one side of the designer’s work, as she is continually experimenting with new shoe structures and forms to try and come up with innovative and avant-garde styles.

Over the years, the young Belgian designer has seen her shoes featured in exhibitions and fashion shows around the world, including in Belgium, the Netherlands, London, and Paris. Herdewyn and Elegnano have both been recognized multiple times with various awards and accolades.