Vancity Futures: The future of fashion is 3D printing

Dec 20 2017, 2:22 am

Welcome to the latest instalment of Vancity Futures, a monthly column that focuses on the technological changes in the world, what they mean for all of us here in Vancouver, and the wider implications in the world.

My name is Nikolas Badminton and I’m a Futurist and speaker. I have been working in the software, R&D, management consultancy, and advertising worlds for over 18 years. I write and speak about how the world will change in the next five, 10, and 25-plus years. This column will provide new insights to the ever changing world for you.


This month, we look at the amazing world of 3D printing and how that is revolutionizing the fashion industry.

3D printing fashion collections

Twenty-seven-year-old Israeli fashion designer, Danit Peleg, 3D-printed her entire graduate fashion collection at home. Danit used only small consumer 3D printers and she created everything from red high heels to a long striped skirt. The process she followed was to print small A4-size pieces that she then then glued together. While innovative, the process was also extremely time-consuming. Some of the pieces took more than 300 hours to come to life so cost may be prohibitive now but, as she says, you could even print your clothes on demand day-by-day.

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A 3D printed bathing suit that cleans the ocean

We know that climate change is real and that it is affecting all of us. Innovators are trying to develop technologies that help Mother Earth. One such company, SpongeSuit, have developed a 3D printed bikini that has integrated nanotechnology that cleans the ocean while you swim.

The SpongeSuit is “swimwear that is environmentally proactive, economically sustainable and intelligently manufactured combining cutting edge 3D printing and nano-scale clean-tech material research.” The suit is designed to clean the ocean “one stroke at a time.”


Image: Reshape

The bathing suit is made up of two constituent parts. The netting around the top is a flexible plastic which is made to fit with the body and also hold the sponge technology filler. This filler is where the toxin removal happens and is made of a super-hydrophobic carbon based material which absorbs everything but water. Ingenius!

This eco friendly bikini even won the first prize in the Reshape15 Wearable Technology competition

As the wearer swims the sponge collects all of the contaminants. It can also hold up to 25 times its weight in substance and everything it collects will be held until the sponge is heated to a high temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. The idea is that you would take your sponge to be recycled thus removing the contaminants from the sea. The designer likened a future where there may be locations like dry cleaners that would accept the sponges and dispose of them safely. It does make me wonder what happens to the wearer when they swim in toxic conditions though. Maybe that’s an oversight to this story?


For years, NIKE and ADIDAS have fought to be the dominant brands in sports apparel. They have also been experimenting with 3D technology as well.

NIKE has publically predicted a new delivery and manufacturing method for their loyal customers, where you can print their shoes using Nike-provided blueprints using 3D printers either at home or in neighborhood printing hubs. This would allow for custom-fitted shoes to become the standard, rather than the near fit we get from the shoe sizes we use now. Here’s Nike COO Eric Sprunk talking about technology, sports and the transformation of Nike into an innovation powerhouse:

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NIKE sees a future where customers access a design studio online where they can choose from standard designs they custom color and fit, or build a shoe from scratch from a template. Once

Hot in their heels is ADIDAS. They’ve now unveiled “Futurecraft 3D,” which is a concept product using new technology that allows them to create completely customized running shoe midsoles. See more in this video here:

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They see this working quite simply. Customers go to an Adidas store, run on a treadmill for a bit thus allowing for calibration of the design, and then you’d instantly get a bespoke 3D printed running shoe. All this being said, Adidas has not yet set a market launch date for making this technology available in stores (I really hope that this is not a marketing stunt). Their plan is to be able to make further announcements in early 2016.

All of the innovations in this article push us forward. I predict that we will have a future where custom apparel will be commonplace and mass production may not even really matter to many people. It’s a revolution that’s happening today. I will also be talking about innovations at Eco Fashion Week in April 2016.

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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