3D printing and luxury brands
Our company’s mass production capability began in the 1800s after undergoing various industrial revolutions. This opened up the company to a myriad of manufacturing capabilities, such as using steam engines to power textile machinery. While this is a giant leap forward in terms of technological advancement with innovation at its core, there is also the untimely demise of traditional craftsmanship as it slowly becomes economically unviable for the masses. .
However, this creates another opportunity whereby these workshops take pride in producing very high quality, handcrafted products that cater to a niche group of people who have the eye and the money to make those purchases. Consequently, this has enabled the advent of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Prada and others. But as society continues to innovate, new forms of production will undoubtedly emerge and cause a ripple effect on the luxury sector.
In the 21st century, society has advanced by leaps and bounds and now we are in the age of 3D printing. Although this new technology has not been widely adopted for commercial purposes, 3D printing is slowly but surely spreading more widely among the population.
If you’re new to the 3D printing game, it just works the same as a regular printer. But unlike traditional printing, where you can only have the product in 2D, 3D printing uses additive manufacturing to make your dream creation come true. Layers of molecules merge and build up to form a three-dimensional shape. Using 3D printing does not require any special tools like cutting tools or molds. Precise addition process helps create complex structures; therefore, the possibilities are limitless.
In luxury fashion, brands have started to incorporate 3D printing into their design process. Discover the Balenciaga Fall Winter 2018 collection. You will be surprised to know that the clothes were made of 3D printed parts. Exact measurements of each model have been recorded and entered into the computer to be printed according to fit requirements. We can draw another strong argument for 3D printing, which is sustainability, a relevant issue for the fashion industry.
3D printing produces almost zero waste – a standard that many fashion houses are striving to achieve these days. Brands under LVMH have used 3D printing to make prototypes of their products, like Adidas and its shoes. More importantly, in the manufacture of accessories such as sunglasses and jewelry, 3D printing helps create a custom mold unique to the customer, enhancing the luxurious experience.
Looking at the current trend within the fashion industry, one would observe that customization ranks at the top of the list. In the past, owning a luxury product was the ultimate goal. Now, with the ubiquity of luxury brands, the exclusivity often associated with luxury has become diluted. That’s not to say these luxury brands aren’t desirable anymore. In fact, there is a growing appetite for them among the burgeoning younger generation.
3D printing makes it even easier for brands to produce their products in a shorter time to compensate for the increased demand for their products. This increases access to luxury goods. How then can the big brands continue to justify their prices? If you could just 3D print luxury products that practically look the same, it only makes sense that luxury brands would lower their prices.
To justify the prices, you have to look at the heritage, the craftsmanship and the materials used to make these luxury products. Brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada have a rich history where its artisans have spent almost their entire lives honing their skills. When you buy a product, you are essentially buying their time to produce that item. And while parts of a product can be 3D printed, the technology cannot replicate the natural drape of a fabric or sew a garment. Luxury buyers appreciate that craftsmen pay the utmost attention to detail. For them, this justifies the exorbitant prices that come with the products.
3D printing cannot recreate the experience of buying a luxury product in a store with the possibility of being part of the brand philosophy. Nevertheless, it can complete the process of perpetuating the legacy of these brands to a wider audience. In the future, 3D printing will only take root, so rather than avoiding its presence, synergy should be encouraged.
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