A new wave of technology has hit the catwalks.

Over the past decade, we've seen laser cutting, circular knitting and thermo shaping - but major designers are now starting to extend their reach into the world’s cutting-edge technology developments by creating their designs through 3D printing. 

3D printers were originally developed in the 1980’s and the first object printed was a tiny cup. Now, we're seeing products of all sorts transcend the industry - from furniture and homewares to even medical objects and body parts! 

Some of the leading designers utilising this exciting piece of technology include Iris van Herpen (interned for Alexander McQueen and is part of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture) and Michael Schmidt (designs for the likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Madonna).

What does the 3D printing process involve? 

3D printers form objects through the creation of successive layers of material, under computer control. 

3D models can be created by taking a digital photo and uploading it to photogrammetric software such as CAD, often used for architectural designs, which determines measurements and maps the model. Once the model is created it is converted into a series of “slices” or layers, which are then printed one on top of the other. Then voila! You have your 3D printed object. The best part is, it is all digital and completely sustainable. You can even do it in your own home, with Officeworks now selling mini 3D printers for $2699. 

This interest in 3D printing has sparked a new craze of technology and fashion, so much so that the 2016 Met Gala, which will be held next month (May 2nd) has themed the event “Fashion in an Age of Technology”. Iris van Herpen and Michael Schmidt have taken fashion design to the next level.

Michael Schmidt was the first designer to create a fully articulated dress through 3D printing in 2013. The best part about garments made by 3D printing is you can model them to the exact size and shape of the body you want to wear it. 

Iris van Herpen’s famous ice-like dress shown in Paris in Spring 2015 is unforgettable. The Dutch designer created the strapless dress using 3D printing and SLA technology. The garment was printed in two pieces and needed to be stitched together in order for the model to wear it on the runway.

Unfortunately, these dresses will set you back a whopping $100K and are actually quite difficult to wear. So for now they are staying on the runways until they become more commercial.

In saying this, it is highly likely that we will start seeing more 3D printed jewellery, bags and other accessories which are more adaptable to a commercial market.