Danit Peleg, the designer who prints fashion collections in 3D from her home

She is now working on her second collection after the first one gained international fame, its success leading her to design a dress for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

Extraordinary things usually happen when creativity and new technologies come together. This is what occurred when fashion designer, Danit Peleg, decided to explore the world of 3D printing in order to create clothing collections from her home.

It all began in 2014 when she was preparing to design a collection for her final year project in the Shenkar fashion school (Ramat Gan, Israel). While doing an internship in a New York fashion house, Danit got the chance to work on the design of two 3D-printed dresses. These captivated her.

“I've always been interested in developing unique fabrics, exploring new materials, and especially, combining fashion with new technologies”, explains the designer.

However, these dresses were made from very stiff materials, using industrial printers. The models could not sit down while wearing them and the feel of the garments was uncomfortable, totally unrelated to regular fabrics.

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The idea of designing a fashion collection from scratch that she could print herself to overcome these drawbacks filled her with a sense of fascination. A sense that grew even more when early on in her investigation she discovered that this could be done with a domestic 3D printer from her own home, where she claims to feel more creative.

“Furthermore, combining the Witbox domestic printer and FilaFlex, a strong but flexible material, I knew I could produce a ready-to-wear collection”

, adds Danit, who resolved to design garments more similar to those with normal, flexible and softer-feeling fabrics that models can wear in comfort. “So I decided to further research this field and create my own collection for the school project”, explains the designer. And so she did. After a time learning how to use the software and hardware necessary for printing, Danit was able to create her first collection, 3D-printed entirely from home. Including shoes.

Discovering the freedom of printing

The first garment she created was a jacket that she named Liberte, consisting of triangular patterns inspired by the geometry in Eugène Delacroix's painting, Liberty leading the people. According to Danit, the 3D printer is a tool that has let her “do incredible things” which she never thought herself capable of achieving. The said jacket was the first demonstration of this.

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After this first experience she continued trying new materials like FilaFlex and sought guidance from a group of makers that helped her go deeper into the world of 3D printing, enhancing her creations. She also happened upon the designs of Andreas Bastian (Mesostructured Cellular Materials) in a project on Thingiverse that inspired her to create the assemblable patterns that compose her garments.

“Combining Andreas Bastian's incredible structures with others created by me employing the same approach, and using flexible filaments, I was finally able to create lace-like fabrics which could be used just like normal ones”, says Danit.

Thanks to this technique she created a series of dresses, tops, skirts and T-shirts that play with the geometric patterns and flexibility of the material, producing an effect of lightness and movement that is present in all her works.

This first collection, which has gone around the globe and has been spotlighted in important media outlets (from Vogue to the New York Times), took 2000 hours to print. She is currently working on a new collection using the Witbox 2, which will let her print nearly three times faster than before. “Perhaps in a few years it will be a matter of minutes!”, she adds.

Her experience in Rio 2016

In 2016 Danit secured a new opportunity to put her creativity to the test and show her work to the world. She was commissioned to design a dress for the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games, which would be worn by dancer and paralympic medallist, Amy Purdy. “It was an honour that such an important project was confided to me. It was a very interesting process because the outfit needed to permit ample movements in order to be presented on stage, while also being elegant and subtle”, says Danit.

During the show, Amy danced the samba with KUKA the robot, celebrating the relationship between humans and technology. Made of diamond shaped patterns, the dress flowed beautifully with the dancer's movements. “The fact that many people thought the dress was made out of normal fabric rather than printed in 3D is the best indicator of the dress's success and demonstrates that the result was very natural”, she adds.

Looking ahead, Danit intends to keep exploring the possibilities that arise from combining fashion and 3D printing. “I also hope to open an online boutique with printable files and I've now finished my latest collection”, explains the designer, who is optimistic about the future of this technology in fashion.

If technology continues to improve at a significant rate, 3D printing will become the future of the fashion industry, it'll have an enormous impact. This will entail lower transport costs, greater customisation and more importantly, the democratisation of design: anyone will be able to design their own clothes!”, she concludes.