Danit Pelege and the Future of 3D Fashion

Image by TED

5 questions with the designer pushing innovation in 3D printed clothes.

Danit Peleg has been pushing the bounds of 3D printed fashion for years. From her fashion collection made completely on home desktop printers in 2015, to her launch of the first 3D printed clothing available for purchase online this year, she continues to demonstrate 3D printing’s capabilities in fashion. I have been following her career since her TED talk a few years back and got the opportunity to ask Peleg five questions I’ve been dying to ask her about her experiences with 3D printing and the future of technology in fashion.

Where you a “maker” growing up or did you find an interest in technology later on?

Peleg: I think I have been a “maker” since a really young age. I was obsessed with opening old toys and broken electronics and seeing how things looks from the inside.

When I was 10, in 4th grade, I attended an after-school fashion course. My mother also bought me a sewing machine and I started playing with it. I had so much fun being able to create.

I remember that it was mind-blowing for me. I LOVED the idea that I could make my own outfits and costumes by myself. So I knew pretty early on that I would be doing creative things with my hands, especially creating clothes.

Peleg’s debut 3D printed fashion collection Credit: Danit Peleg

Do you think 3D printing and fashion are a natural fit?

Peleg: I think that there are many benefits when combining 3D printing and fashion and what we see today is only the beginning of what this technology has to offer.

I believe that we will see more and more 3D printed fashion, but it will look differently than today. What I did is a proof of concept and I found it so interesting that by using this technology I was able to print 10 pieces of clothing by myself from the comfort of my house. The problem is that it was a very long process and it took 2000 hours to accomplish printing my collection. With the second collection?—?only a year and half later?—?the process became three times faster.

For this to become commonplace two main things need to improve: the speed of the printers and better materials (filaments). The filaments I produced are flexible, but they are not like cotton yet. I’m sure we will see innovative filaments and faster printers in the next few years.

Peleg’s dress at the 2016 Paralympic opening ceremonies

What inspired you to create a line of jackets as your first consumer 3D printed items?

Peleg: The first jacket came as part of the ‘Birth of Venus’ collection, which included a dress I made for the opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Rio 2016. The dress was worn by Amy Purdy a Paralympics medalist and a dancer. I suppose the process of making this dress is what inspired me to be able to create this unique experience for more people.

Peleg’s ready to wear jacket customizer Credit: Danit Peleg

I didn’t meet the dancer in person before the show, and by using an app called Nettelo I was still able to customize it completely to her measurements. I was also able to send updated simulations for feedback, before even printing one piece of fabric, and the whole process produced zero waste. With my 3D printed designs I always try to do ready to wear looks, clothing that you can wear on the street and I think I achieved it with the bomber jackets.

What new technologies do you think will make the biggest impact on fashion in the years to come?

Peleg: Digitization of clothing will have a huge impact. Now I can email you a jacket or a dress but imagine that in a few years you will be able to download this jacket and easily change the size and design, then print it in a few minutes. When you don’t like the jacket anymore I believe that it will be very easy to recycle it and make new filaments.

If the technology does improve significantly the benefits will be huge?—?less shipping costs, more personalization, democratization of design?—?anyone will be able to design and share it with the world like a viral t-shirt. But most importantly there will be an alternative for more sustainable materials that you can recycle right after.

Beyond making 3D printing fashion for the consumer, what innovation with 3D printing in fashion excites you most? What are you doing to push this forward?

Peleg: I have so many ideas on what I want to do in the future. We’re beginning by creating the possibility for a wider audience to own unique 3D printed garments. I want to solve all the challenges I’m currently dealing with, starting by creating filaments that feel like fabrics, combining electronics in my prints and pushing the technology further.

I also plan to open-source some of the items from my first collection, so that people will be able to experiment with 3D printing themselves. I hope after reading this, you’ll be one them!

Learn More

Danit Peleg’s official site


Create Your Own 3D Printed Jacket


Danit Pelge’s TED Talk



  • Erin Winick

    Erin is the associate editor of the future of work at MIT Technology Review. She is particularly interested in automation and advanced manufacturing, spurring from her background in mechanical engineering. Before joining Technology Review, she worked as a freelance science writer, founded the 3-D printing company Sci Chic, and interned at the Economist. She can be found at http://www.erinwinick.com.

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