Fashion

3D Fashion Technology Brings Sci-Fi to the Runways

An Eagle Borg costume made of leatherette and plastic turned fashion designer Monica Vaverová into a 3D printing pioneer in the Czech Republic.

Once she sashayed into the digital future, designer Monica Vaverová found herself on the precipice of a rising fashion-technology trend. After using a computer and 3D printer to bring her idea for an eagle cyborg costume to life, the designer was inspired. It unleashed her desire to incorporate technology deeper into her next sci-fi inspired designs.

In October 2015, Vaverová became one of the first designers in the Czech Republic to use 3D fashion technology at a fashion show. Her white and gold glossy Eagle Borg bodysuit was made with lycra and leatherette, and adorned with elements fabricated by a 3D printer, including a gravity-defying helmet and decorative shoulder covering.

“I am motivated to follow this [3D printing] trend and use it in my fashion design practice in the future,” Vaverová said, describing her experience working with be3D printers.

Monica Vaverová

Eagle Borg was custom-made for singer Markéta Poulíčková and is at the Prague fashion show Fashion.stl — stl stands StereoLithography, the digital file format used by 3D printers.

Eagle Borg exemplifies a growing fashion-technology trend hitting runways around the world. From 3D printed women’s pumps by architect Zaha Hadid and UN Studio‘s Ben van Berkel, to Anouk Wipprecht’s robotics-inspired Spider Dress and Chromat‘s biomimicry-infused Adrenaline Dress, daring designers are turning to new tools and materials to make original garments.

Monica Vaverová _eagle_borg_full

3D printing started the trend to infuse technology into fashion and allowed designers to transform sketches into real-life objects. As Vaverová’s work shows, 3D fashion technology brings new dimensions to garments, allowing people to create their own clothes or costumes once only seen in science fiction movies or comic books.

Michael Schmidt created one of the most famous 3D-printed dresses for Dita von Teese in 2013. The black robe decorated with Swarovski crystals broke new ground for other 3D dress designs worn by global celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Björk. But it was Dutch designer Iris van Herpen who launched 3D fashion into the spotlight with her collection “Escapism.” Her creation was among the top 50 inventions by Time magazine in 2011.

Monica Vaverová _eagle_borg_catwalk

Today, 3D printing is common in the fashion industry, from haute couture dresses to personalized running shoes. 3D printing remains a springboard for many fashion designers eager to turn their ideas into reality quickly and affordably.

While it was her interest in sci-fi and fantasy worlds that got Vaverová hooked on fashion, new digital tools are helping many young designers spark new fashion trends and launch their own companies.

“I like to try new things, and primarily, I focus on costumes for art projects, sci-fi or futuristic ones,” said Vaverová, who started her own brand called MIMO.

To create Eagle Borg, Vaverová partnered with Martin Žampach and Tomáš Kubata at YSoft be3D, and used a DeeGreen 3D printer designed for consumer use in homes or offices.

“Getting familiar with 3D printing was a very inspiring experience for me,” she said.

Monica Vaverová _eagle_borg_sketch

From concept to final costume took four months. Early sketches show how eagle and man anatomies fused into an “eagleborg.” The helmet and the collar are 3D printed using approximately 28 ounces of PLA plastic along with corn starch and other natural materials.

Monica Vaverová _eagle_borg

As cool as the futuristic results can be, Vaverová doesn’t believe 3D printing technology will replace how common clothes are created — at least not in the near future.

“I see the role of 3D printing primarily not in the fashion industry but in healthcare,” she said. For those who need prosthetic limbs, the technology can be life changing.

Fashion items like 3D-printed bags, however, can raise public awareness about the possibilities for this technology, said Vaverová. She likes that the technology allows items to be fitted directly for the model and how things can be created without seams.

Monica Vaverová making_eagle_borg

She said cloth as the classical fashion material has its limits. The designer is currently working on a new project of sci-fi costumes, opting to ditch leatherette and go directly for 3D printing. She expects it to take six months to complete.

Monica Vaverová _Photo by Lucie Zendlova

In the meantime, she’s eager to meet design pioneers and technology experts to learn more about creating “smart” clothes infused with computer technologies.

“I would like to get networked with people engaged in this field,” said Vaverová. “I would like to join in. I realize this work is demanding. It takes a lot of time to study and produce [smart garments].”

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