How Fashion Designers Incorporate 3D Printing in their Work

August 1, 2013

Designs by Iris van Herpen (photo from

3D printing found its way into fashion a few years ago. In 2010 Amsterdam fashion week, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen displayed her first couture piece made out of 3D printed materials on the catwalk. She collaborated with New York company .MGX by Materialise and London-based architect Daniel Widrig to create her concept. She has now incorporated 3D printing into all of her collections since then. At the 2012 Paris fashion show, she wowed with 3D printed couture dresses. For 2013 the theme was all about the shoes.

“For me, fashion has always been about setting your own boundaries and making a statement,” commented van Herpen.

She has made strides in 3D printing and worked on flexible and static 3D printed dresses with Professor Neri and Keren Oxman, Professor Craig Carter from MIT, and architect Julia Koerner with Materialise in her past collections. In her latest collection, she has shifted gears from gowns to shoes. Van Herpen teamed up with United Nude’s designer Kem K Koolhaas and Stratasys LTD (a leading manufacturer of 3D printers and production of systems for prototyping and manufacturing) to create twelve pairs of 3D printed shoes. According to Koolhaas, the combination of van Herpen’s designs, Stratasys’ innovation, and United Nude’s engineering will hopefully inspire other designers to explore alternative materials and processes.

Iris van Herpen 3D Printed Shoes (photo from

“We believe that 3D printing has become a true creative-enabler for the fashion world. Designers are no longer limited with conventional manufacturing. They can now produce virtually anything they can imagine. For that reason, we feel that 3D printing will become more and more an integral part of fashion design curriculums,” said Arita Mattsoff, Vice President of Marketing for Stratasys.

Photo from

To see van Herpen’s latest collection in action as well as the 3D printing process, click here.

Written by: Chloe Condon, Industrial Design Intern, Summer 2013

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