Two projects using technology in fashion caught my eye last week. These projects share a similar goal: decentralized clothing manufacture. The idea is that if we are able to produce our clothes locally, we can eliminate a large part of the manufacturing and distribution chain that accounts for a big part of fashion’s carbon footprint.
The first project, Electroloom, promises “the world’s first 3D printer for clothes” and has received a grant and support from Alternative Apparel. Their ambitious goal is to complete development of the 3D printer by the end of 2014. Here’s a preview of what it may look like:
Using electrostatic filament extrusion techniques, the system will create a non-woven web on a body-mold like the one in the picture. Remember Fabrican spray-on clothing that had us all so excited a few years back? The technology is different, but as far as I can tell, the result will look similar. Interested? You can visit their website, but you won’t find much information there. Try their Facebook page instead for updates and more info. Scroll right to the start of their timeline and check the video of the first day of prototyping. Exciting, but a long way to go: good luck Electroloom!
Maybe in the distant future, this means clothing replicators in every home, but for now, more practical applications might be local clothing stores producing bespoke items for individual customers. This would mean swapping out the base mannequin for different sizes. Of course, not everyone wants body-hugging designs, so there would have to be a method of including extra space (aka “ease”) into the designs.
This poses really interesting possibilities for fashion designers. Personally, I’d love to see a more abstract approach, where you could order sprayed shapes and fit them together (by ironing?) to make zero-waste modernist styles. And then bring them back next year for recycling. But first things first, let’s wait until Electroloom is ready…