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Experts Q&A: Julia Daviy – Inventor, Designer, and 3D Printed Clothing Pioneer

3D printed clothing
3D printing in fashion
Above: Inventor, Designer, and 3D Printed Clothing Pioneer Julia Daviy who changed fashion irrevocably by introducing world’s first zero-waste 3D printed clothing/Image Credit: Julia Daviy

Julia Daviy, is an American inventor, designer who introduced fashion’s first wearable clothing line created completely by large-format 3D printers. For Daviy, fashion is not about the traditional fabrics, threads, cutting, and sewing; it is a one-of-a-kind process that not only uses cutting edge, large format 3D printers to create beautiful and flexible clothing, but also create apparels that are environmentally savvy, cruelty-free, and made with almost zero production waste. Daviy’s love for the environment and the use of cleaner production techniques is impressive. She’s the Co-Founder of the Green Economy Institute in Eastern Europe and serves as a board member of various clean technology organisations. Manufactur3D Magazine decided to sneak into the life of Julia Daviy who has been lauded for being one of the first to digitally design, model, and print unique pieces of clothing on 3D printers.

QTell us about your journey in fashion, what got you interested in 3D printing and the aspect of the 3D printing technology that fascinated you?

A My journey in fashion started from launching an activewear line made from organic fabrics and innovative dying “eco-friendly” dyeing techniques. At that stage, my main idea was to create the clothing according to the highest standards of its impact on the environment and at the same time did not sacrifice design. Looking back now, I would probably keep that project and continue to develop it (from the business point of view it looked competitive and a step ahead).

However, I soon realised that this way of production is a dead-end and we needed technology and a principally new approach to react adequately to all these challenges of the traditional clothing industry. Changing just fabrics and dyeing is far away from being enough. Also, I thought, that it’s so rude, old-style and really stupid to rape and kill animals for their skin, fur, and other body parts in the age of technologies development and thought that in the 21st century we need more eco-friendly and advanced approach towards the way we produce clothing.

I quickly found that 3D printing in the clothing industry is developing slowly because it needed a combination of knowledge – in traditional clothing design, in 3D modeling and 3D printing. And we did not have any specialists in probably the entire world had the knowledge in all three areas. Three years ago I decided to learn all of these and dived into learning and experimentation.

It was then that I started to learn and experiment with 3D printing and 3D modeling because I saw the potential for smart clothes production. Also, I was fascinated by the opportunity to create a new sustainable and ethical technology for clothing production.

Q Could you describe how you’ve been using 3D printing in the world of fashion and how it has changed from the first time you 3D printed a dress and today?

A Two and a half years ago, when I saw the potential of 3D printing and how much it can be applicable to the creation of the new generation of clothing, I was ready to face the challenges, but I did not realize how many and how big they would be. I underestimated them. I bought a 3D printer and scanner, tried to implement what I wanted, and failed immediately. So I took a specialisation in 3D printing and courses on 3D modeling and started to experiment. It was a long process involving hundreds of unsuccessful experiments.  I was reading the biographies of Thomas Edison, Einstein, Elon Musk and other great thinkers. To stay on track, I started to study design thinking methodology deeper because it’s useful for inventing.

3D printed clothing
Above: 3D printed clothing designer Julia Daviy, inspects the 3D printed top/Image Credit: Julia Daviy

Sometimes, to get new ideas, I also experimented with other techniques. So I decided to create a wearable dimensional dress using a 3D pen and flexible material, and I did it. The working process took about 80 hours, sometimes I was sitting working on for multiple days and nights. And I did not have any guarantee that this step would actually lead to something or that I would at least get an attractive result. This dress ended up being the first work that was noticed on my Instagram by journalists.

One day last Spring I got an email with an invitation to present my collection in the Fashion Tech event that would take place on the first day of New York’s fashion week. That moment I took on an insane challenge that led to more than 300 hours of 3D modeling and more than 2,000 hours of 3D printing working on four 3D printers. With 3D printers, I created 9 looks of flexible and soft 3D-printed clothes. Simultaneously, while working on this collection, I invented a zero-waste process with minimal labor involvement for 3D printing clothing and also invented 3D printed “leather.”

3D printing fashion

3D printed clothes
Above: The Liberation Collection by Julia Daviy/Image Credit: Julia Daviy

After that, I started to work on the creation of the “transitional” models of the 3D-printed clothes – the pieces of clothing that are impossible to be created in a traditional way, and which takes less time to 3D print. More importantly, I found a way to create a process where a piece of clothing could be easily customized and visualized by a consumer. I am obsessed with the idea to turn the society of consumers into the society of creators. To be honest, I love to create solutions and processes more than to design clothes.

We launched a test software at juliadaviy.com where you can customize a skirt in several simple steps, you can observe each change in design from 360 degrees, and you can get your skirt 3D-printed and delivered in a relatively short time.

Q What are some of the challenges you faced while working with 3D printing technology in general and in the world of fashion in particular? What insights can you share with us?

A3D printing and 3D printing of clothing, in particular, has a lot of obstacles! It’s simply to say where we have not met the obstacles. Each stage is challenging and required to create solutions. Many solutions have been invented by me and my partner. Some we are patenting now. Everyone wants faster 3D printing and I’m not an exception. I dream about 3D printers able to create high-elastic durable clothes 3D printed as one single piece without the need for long post-processing and trimming. The much bigger 3D printing volume is essential. All 3D printing technologies we have today are far from being advanced and need significant improvements. I definitely do not work with heavy chemicals and polluting processes like in SLS. Post-processing in SLA is not safe too. FDM does not permit you to use the full potential of 3D design because of quality limitations.

I dream about 3D printers able to create high-elastic durable clothes 3D printed as one single piece without the need of long post-processing and trimming. The much bigger 3D printing volume is essential. All 3D printing technologies we have today are far from being advanced and need significant improvements.

Julia Daviy on the improvements needed in the 3D printing technology

Q What are the materials you work with for 3D printing clothes? And how do you decide which material to print with?

A

I am in a constant search for better materials for 3D printing. Today I work with the most flexible filaments and materials for SLA which we have in the global market. But for me, the most important is the environmental influence of these materials – all of their life cycle – how they were produced, supplied, how can I produce sustainable clothes with them, will they be recyclable or most preferably – biodegradable? 

Q Do you predict that 3D printing will become commonplace in the fashion environment? If yes, then how accessible (in terms of availability, cost parameters, ease of use, etc.) will that be to an average consumer?

A 3D printing and probably even 4D printing will become a new reality in fashion production – sooner than many old-fashioned fashion experts think about this. The coming years are defining – will 3D printing serve local communities or become a new powerful tool for large corporations. The technology is not deterministic. And 3D printing technology, in particular, can be used in different ways. It depends on people who will use it and so much more.

3D printing in clothing
Above: Julia Daviy donning her own 3D printed clothing/Image credit: Julia Daviy

I am absolutely sure, that even today the 3D printing industry has all the tools to replace a $56bn industry of leather. We have the materials and tools to produce better everything – from bags and shoes to jackets and furniture.

Julia Daviy on the potential of 3D printing technology in the fashion industry

I am absolutely sure, that even today the 3D printing industry has all the tools to replace a $56bn industry of leather. We have the materials and tools to produce better everything – from bags and shoes to jackets and furniture. If you are looking for your place in the market, think about this and about the impact you can create. 3D-printed bags are not only beautiful and unique, but they are also ethically and cruelty-free produced, and this gives them a much bigger value. Just imagine local communities, where women are designing impossible shapes of design sitting at their laptops, and men 3D printed them in the local 3D printing studios. This is the true freedom of creation and living, you can design even sitting at the beach or at home – having more time with your family.  And if you were able to imagine this kind of future, then we can create it.  

Q What is your concept of sustainable zero-waste fashion?

A I believe that clothes should be created on demand, meet all the requirements and demands of the consumer (or better – to be co-designed by him/her). When the piece of 3D printed clothing is not needed anymore and cannot be reused, it must be recycled and easily turned into filaments/material suitable for the production of another piece of clothing. We have a very short supply chain – from a digital file of a garment

Q We see that 3D printing is positively impacting the price, time to market and system efficiency in respective industries. What impact is 3D printing having on the fashion industry?

A Today the role of 3D printing in the fashion industry is not significant. But things are changing fast and radically. Just last year Adidas manufactured 500,000 sneakers with 3D-printed midsoles and is going to produce millions of such shoes in the coming years. Just a year ago, everyone was so sure that it’s impossible to mass produce and sell 3D-printed clothes, and now we started to do this.

Q What is the next step for you in this sector? What is the Holy Grail you want to achieve in this sector?

A First of all, I’m not a fashion designer. At least, in the traditional understanding of this word. My role is to design new solutions and processes. I love to do this more than to design dresses. I love to work with the innovations and to create innovations. I love to do “impossible”. Currently, I dream about an ecosystem, involving more and more progressive people into the right fashion technologies. As I have already said, technologies are not deterministic; they can be used for bad and for good. I don’t want 3D printing to be used to support barbaric industries like leather or fur production.

I do not want AI and bioengineering in the fashion industry, in particular, were used for damaging the planet and smashing human rights. I see the fashion industry as not the industry that consumes (resources, time, energy) but as the industry that creates a positive impact, turns the consumers into creators, empowers women, supports growing and flourishing of wild nature and animal rights, decrease the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and will clean the ground, water resources and air from all pollution that the fashion has already done.

I see the fashion industry as not the industry that consumes (resources, time, energy) but as the industry that creates a positive impact, turns the consumers into creators, empowers women, supports growing and flourishing of wild nature and animal rights, decrease the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and will clean the ground, water resources and air from all pollution that the fashion has already done.

Julia Daviy when asked about her thoughts on how 3D printing can change the future of the fashion industry

Q Any thoughts on the Indian Fashion Industry and adoption of fashion 3D printing in India? Any plan to visit India for work?

A Education, conversation, and understanding of possible scenarios for the fashion industry and technology developing is essential for anyone who sees his or her future connected with this industry. Until the year my schedule is already planned. The next year still has some slots possible for visits, speeches, and workshops. So, when there will be clients from the corporate or governmental sectors of India, I am glad to visit the country.

I wish the fashion designers across the globe start every day from empathy, develop consciousness and learn something new every day. For many years, the clothing industry has been quite closed not only to technologies but to empathy and this led it to turn into champions in destroying of the planet. We have to start to believe in our power to create cruelty-free and valuable solutions and set a gold standard – never again to sacrifice someone’s skin, freedom or life to create “fashion”.

Julia Daviy on her vision for future fashion designers

Q Do you want to share a few parting thoughts with the readers of this interview? Any suggestions/advice to budding fashion designers across the globe?

A I believe in a design thinking methodology for creating true innovations and I believe that a true task of design is to deliver solutions. Delivering of right solutions depends on how precisely we identified the problem. I wish the fashion designers across the globe start every day from empathy, develop consciousness and learn something new every day. For many years, the clothing industry has been quite closed not only to technologies but to empathy and this led it to turn into champions in destroying of the planet. We have to start to believe in our power to create cruelty-free and valuable solutions and set a gold standard – never again to sacrifice someone’s skin, freedom or life to create “fashion”.


Note: In our Experts Q&A, experts from the 3D printing industry share their insights on the technology, the developments in the global 3D printing industry in general and India’s 3D printing industry in particular. To share your thoughts, insights or to feature on our magazine, kindly get in touch with us at features@manufactur3dmag.com 

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