Tailored to Shrink
Many of the materials currently used within the fashion industry are petroleum-based synthetics. These are not sustainable and do not use environmentally friendly production processes. Interest in sustainably produced fabrics is increasing, but more radical approaches are also being explored, such as “growing” fabric and materials from mycelium. In haute couture fashion, the experimental use of 3D printing is being investigated using synthetic materials. However, there is an opportunity to combine the organic growth of natural materials with the precision of digital control within 3D printing.
In response to this opportunity, this research investigates the design and creation of haute couture 3D printed garments, using an eco-friendly, semi-liquid bio-composite material developed for syringe printing utilising the precision of a robotic arm. It adopts a cross-disciplinary approach to the field, oscillating between Industrial Design and Fashion Design with some experiments broadly based on science methodologies.
Prospective biomaterials were identified and an iterative process of testing combinations of suitable growing mediums, fabric substrates, and fungal cultures were explored to assess growth, material properties, and design opportunities. Mycelium from a native New Zealand fungus was selected and a series of 2D printed patterns were developed based on the Material Driven Design Method (MDD), to understand the relationship between digital placement, fabric substrate, and mycelium growth. Contraction of the flat fabric during the drying process allowed the authorship of undulating 3D fabric. Using a range of parametric software, strategies for 3D form creation to fit the body through controlled shrinkage were developed. A final series of 3D haute couture garments were co-created through the symbiotic relationship of digital control and natural processes.
Key words: parametric fashion, 4D printing, natural shrinkage, sustainable fashion, bio-based 3D printing