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The Future of Fashion Is 3D Printing Clothes at Home

When the doors open on May 5 for Manus x Machina, the Met Costume Institute’s Spring exhibition, visitors will be treated to 90 otherworldly high-fashion garments, including many striking items made with 3D printing. These outfits—a layered, cross-hatched suit from Chanel's 2015-16 Autumn/Winter haute couture line, an exotic, infinitely complex polyamide top in the Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen's Spring/Summer 2010 collection—are exotic now, but viewers should get ready to see a whole lot more of them in the not-too-distant future.

An ensemble by Iris van Herpen for her Spring/ Summer 2010 haute couture line.

Currently (as evidenced by the fact that these dresses are in a museum display), 3D-printed clothes are pretty much the exclusive purview of haute couture. But as the technology is adopted by more apparel makers, it has the potential to trickle down to the masses. When that happens, “it can be as revolutionary as the sewing machine,” said Andrew Bolton, Manus x Machina’s curator. “It means you can 3D print your dress to your exact measurements at home.”

An ensemble by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel's Autumn/Winter 2015–16 haute couture line.

Couture clothes, in the traditional fashion industry definition, are “items made for you...


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