Project Runway Designer Launches 3D Printed Shoe Collection

Project Runway Designer Launches 3D Printed Shoe Collection

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Seth Aaron’s 3D printed footwear line with Feetz on show at FashioNXT

Seth Aaron, two-time winner of Lifetime’s Emmy award-winning TV show, Project Runway, has introduced a line of 3D printed designer shoes.

Teaming up with 3D printing footwear company, Feetz, the collection launched at fashion and technology event, FashioNXT, in Portland on Friday, October 13.

The concept is all about enabling custom-fit designs for consumers. As Feetz founder and CEO, Lucy Beard, said: “Seth Aaron’s creative design vision will explore the reach of 3D printing in fashion, enabling him to produce what only could have been imagined. That vision will be translated into ready-to-wear, customized for each customer’s unique needs.”

In the past, much of the experimentation with 3D printed footwear remained as concept pieces – rigid resin designs that were impossible to wear for their lack of flexibility. As the technology and materials have improved, that’s begun to shift quite rapidly forward. Adidas for instance, has started to 3D print the soles of a sneaker called the Futurecraft at scale; the first in the sportswear industry to do so beyond prototype or bespoke stage. It aims to produce 100,000 of them by the end of 2018.

Feetz meanwhile, uses proprietary polymers to 3D print the entire shoe; uppers and tread. “What makes our material different from other 3D printed shoes is that it is extremely flexible, unlike hard plastic heels that are on the market today. Our shoes are fully 3D printed, but they flex as muchas any other knitted upper or rubber sole,” Beard explained.

FashioNXT

Seth Aaron

The designs for Aaron’s collection somewhat ironically look like the former however. Inspiration came from the traditional Japanese block sandal, meaning the uppers are flexible, but the soles do indeed emulate the blocks. The entire construct is nonetheless 3D printed.

Three styles hit the runway on Friday night: a high heel with a calf-length boot, a high heel with an ankle-length boot, and an oxford with an elevated block sole, as well as some bracelets. A lower version of the oxford will also be made for men.

FashioNXT founder and CEO, Tito Chowdhury, said: “So much of what has been done in 3D printed fashion is like art, to be appreciated, but not lived. This innovative collaboration redefines the relationship between technology and fashion. People will wear the shoes, not because of the technology, but because they are fashionable.”

Another appealing factor is that they’re sustainable. While the majority of the textile industry is hugely consuming of water, Feetz’s 3D printed shoes use no water, they’re made entirely from recycled material and at the end of their useful life can be recycled into new shoes again.

Seth Aaron said: “There are three things that make this collaboration special. First, whatever I can design, they can create. We go from concept to the runway in less than eight weeks, while fashion design traditionally leads the market by 12 to 18 months. Second, they are sustainable… The shoes are made from recycled and recyclable products. At the end of their life, we don’t toss them into a landfill, we make them into new shoes. Third, we are bringing fashion manufacturing home. These designs and the customers who buy them will create high paying jobs in America.”

Guests with standard size feet were able to walk away with a pair of the 3D printed shoes from FashioNXT on Friday, while those wanting to have them custom fit can order them for delivery in eight weeks.

Rachel Arthur is a business journalist, innovation consultant and the founder and editor of Fashion & Mash, a daily news site covering the intersection of fashion and technology.

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