22 Nov 3D Printed Adornments Might Just Be The ‘It Items’ In The Near Future
3D printed items are a new thing for me. 4 years ago, when I discovered that items could be 3D printed as a full object with simply a device, my eyes were opened wider than before while my mouth kept asking the same question over and over to everyone around me. ‘3D printing actually exists and it’s already here in this day and age!?’ sounds like that one question I kept on asking, while everyone around me kept saying ‘yes, it is’ as an answer (Some of them probably adds ‘where have you been?’ or ‘you’re such a Luddite’ after they answered).
Although there is something that is not new for me, and that is futuristic themes in movies. The theme varies, some of them are science and space-heavy, some of them are pretty simple which usually tells stories of human’s relationship with certain ‘futuristic’ object or subject like robots, some are set on earth but with a totally innovative set of technology and setting which the real world has never seen before. To be honest, I am still learning about the genre as a whole, more and more each day.
What I noticed from this theme is one of the ongoing infrastructures of the thematic storytelling style AKA one of the backbone of the genre, and that is new clothing styles with innovative developments that make them feel futuristic and ‘beyond present-day human beings mind’. The clothes, the hats, the bracelets, the sunglasses, the clothing items that are completely non-existent in real life but very compellingly real in the fictional stories! All of them are part of the recognizable things that people could identify futuristic-themed fiction works with.
What caught my attention is the fact that a lot of these clothing items used in futuristic-themed movies are actually made via 3D printing. American costume designer, Ruth Carter, explained the need to have items 3D printed is for the items to be perfectly and accurately shaped. One of the movies that she worked on is Black Panther, which is a futuristic-themed superhero movie. Carter broke down some of her costume work in Black Panther on a media partnership video with Vanity Fair on YouTube (If you’d like to watch the whole video, you can watch it down below).
One of the works that Carter broke down is Queen Ramonda’s white costume which is featured at the beginning of the film, which features 3D printed clothing items. The queen’s headpiece and shoulder mantle are 3D printed with flexible clothing materials so the patterns on the items (which are inspired by South African hats for married women and African lace patterns) can be put on the clothing items perfectly.
A comment that caught my eyes on the video is this one comment which says ‘3D printed traditional headwear sounds actually very Wakandan indeed to me’. One of the iconic traits of Wakanda is its futurism, technological advancement, and innovation, including outfits and adornments. This got me thinking, what if one of the things that became an important infrastructure of the real-world future clothing is 3D printed items? The concept seems believable, and both 3D printing AND clothing items made from the 3D printing process are already present today, although not (yet) mainstreamed.
3D printed clothing items are actually around in the present day, even Sculpteo has a whole catalog-ish guide on 3D printing fashion starter kits and basics already. If the usage of 3D printing in the fashion and clothing production industry is mainstreamed, then the quality of the clothing could be even better because of how accurate 3D printing could shape designs. Since 3D printing is relatively new (surprisingly), especially for clothing items, this type of clothing production could be mainstreamed in the near future. It wouldn’t be too far away from present-day because the technology and usage is already around nowadays.
One of the most possible reasons why this type of clothing production is not yet mainstreamed is the need for special materials. Apparently, the materials used to produce clothes via the 3D printing process are usually the kinds of textiles that are either impractical for humans’ daily activities or materials that are relatively rarer than mainstream clothing materials nowadays (or both). Roni Jacobson wrote via Wired that ‘Thousands of years of refinement have allowed traditional weaving and sewing to produce wearable, durable clothing more efficiently than an upstart method like 3D printing.’
These facts also show how 3D printed clothes are not entirely welcomed yet by most people because of how the items are deemed not practical enough, or not simply suitable enough for basic, everyday use. So it might take some time for 3D printed clothing items to be a mainstream phenomenon, but what could be trending sooner than a whole set of clothes is actually 3D printed accessory. The admiration for the styles and designs of 3D printed clothing items is already present in today’s society, so although the clothes could not yet reach the mainstream level, the accessories definitely could.
Adornments are used mainly for appearance and enjoyment, not for practicality and simple everyday use. So 3D printed adornments could definitely ‘peak’ in society’s popularity before 3D printed full clothing item sets because adornments don’t need to be practical enough like clothes to be mainstreamed. The possible mainstream use of 3D printed accessories could also lead new bands of clothing materials to shine as new mainstream materials even if they’ve never been used or spotlighted enough before. As Emma Frost, one of the most fashionable superheroes would say, ‘It’s a brave new world, darlings….Best get used to it.’