Bethany Williams' sustainable knitwear outfit (left). Sylvia Heisel's 3-D printed dress (right) at Première Vision New York.

In addition to introducing fall 2019 textile trends, Première Vision New York underscored technology breakthroughs in the fashion industry by displaying two prototype looks made of tech-forward, sustainable materials at its “Smart Square” platform. The show took place last week in New York.

The prototypes were designed by Sylvia Heisel, who displayed a 3-D printed biodegradable dress, and British designer Bethany Williams, who used recycled, organic and waste materials from Clay’s book manufacturing in Suffolk, England, to create a complete knitwear outfit.

A former fashion designer, Heisel shifted her business toward the intersection of technology and fashion, as she now works with 3-D printing, new materials and explores manufacturing and physical computing for fashion and wearables, according to Première Vision. Heisel is developing “a methodology and fabrication system for the design and manufacturing of 3-D printed garments,” and “envisions zero-waste clothes that are printed to order, [made from] compostable materials.” Her 3-D prototype design is a charcoal and leaf colored 3-D printed A-line tank dress made from biodegradable composite resin and was created exclusively for Première Vision New York.

Heisel posed the question, “Could we have fast fashion that doesn’t last forever? How great would that be?” She added, “I don’t want to be told, ‘No, don’t buy things.’ I want to be able to buy things and have them not harm the world. It’s an exploration — let’s push the boundaries on this. The technology is there and there’s a lot of interest from [technology] companies to work in fashion or get into fashion, but there are [still] big gaps.”

Heisel’s dress is based on hand illustrations and rendered in additive manufacturing software. The design was printed flat, which enables a zero-waste process and eliminates the need to cut and sew. Première Vision noted that Heisel’s dress is durable enough for wearing and storage. Heisel told WWD, “We’re developing additive manufacturing for apparel. I used to be a designer, and I kind of transitioned from my brand into how can we make things in different ways, and working between fashion in tech. It’s about, ‘How can we use technology to make clothes that didn’t exist in the past?’ So 3-D printing is a part of that, and using that idea of transforming materials, rather than picking out and cutting and sewing. And the technology exists, it’s super early, but it doesn’t exist at scale yet. It’s coming.

“We’re printing flat pieces, where you only print what you need,” Heisel said. “You can make things that [now] you couldn’t make otherwise [through technology].” She added, “That’s kind of the goal. Let’s make things in new ways.”

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