3D Printing

The Manus x Machina Fashion Collection Hints at Possible Future for 3D Printing Clothing at Home

If you’ve happened to keep up with with the recent impact that 3D printing technology has had on the fashion industry, you may have seen some of the unique designs on runways from New York City to Milan. From May 5 to August 14, the Met Costume Institute’s Spring exhibition, Manus x Machina, will shocase a collection of over 150 high-end fashion garments that reflect fashion in the age of technology. The Met collection will explore the relationship between working with hand (Manus) and machine (Machina), doing so through the high-end fashion lens of “haute couture” (exclusive and expensive custom-fitting clothing garments).


The collection will include a number of the most eye-catching and innovative garments created over the years. Within the exhibition rooms will be installations that compare garments made from “traditional métiers” (embroidery, lacework, etc) with tech-based versions, each of which is manufactured with modern technologies, including 3D printing, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding. In recent talk with Bloomberg, the curator of the Manus x Machina exhibit, Andrew Bolton, spoke highly about the potential that 3D printing technology has in store for the fashion industry. We’re not just talking runway and museum collections either, Bolton believes that 3D printing technology will soon help consumers create clothing at home.

“It can be as revolutionary as the sewing machine,” said Bolton. “It means you can 3D print your dress to your exact measurements at home.”

Manus x Machina curator Andrew Bolton

What once was considered an exclusive and rare feature, haute couture could soon make its way into the consumer market through a 3D printer. Still, both Bolton and other 3D printing enthusiasts understand that the technology still has a ways to go. Currently, 3D printing technology is mostly used in fashion for accessories, what can be attributed to the lack of 3D printing materials that could measure up to cotton or other types of clothing materials.

“One area where I haven’t seen much growth is the combination of 3D printing with fabric,” Bolton said to Bloomberg. “Like a structured, 3D-printed bodice, with a fabric skirt.”

Iris van Harpen’s ensemble from Spring/ Summer 2010 haute couture line

Though Bolton feels that 3D printing clothing at home is still a “dream” to him, some of the garments in the Manus x Machina collection foretell a future where that dream can become a reality. Take the work of Iris van Harpen for instance (which we’ve covered numerous times in the past), who has partnered with Materialise a numerous occasions to produce marvelous 3D printed garments. The show will feature the fashion work of van Harpen, much of which is centered around 3D printing technology among other innovative and tech-driven fashion designers. The collection will also feature renowned fashion designers such as Raf Simons, Christopher Kane, Karl Legerfeld, and many more.