3D Printing: Evolving Ideas In Jewelry Design, Avant Garde Fashion and the Luxury Industry

From www.justluxe.com, by Susan Kime
3D Printing: Evolving Ideas In Jewelry Design, Avant Garde Fashion and the Luxury Industry

Rania Sedhom, Managing Partner of the firm Sedhom and Mayhew, PLLC, is an attorney who represents a number of clients in the fashion and jewelry industry, who have a deep interest in 3D printing. Sedhom is a skilled legal and business commentator whose work has appeared in the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Forbes, Inc. magazine, Business Week and CNN Money. Among Sedhom's clients are Baublebar, an e-commerce jewelry business which recently raised $10 million in series-B funding led by Burch Creative Capital, John Brevard, an exceptional artist/designer who prints his entire jewelry line, and threeASFOUR, artists and avant-garde designers who are Fashion Week regulars.

John BrevardPhoto Credit: John Brevard

3D printing has already developed a close relationship with haute couture, but in September 2014, threeASFOUR, presented a new line of 3D printed dresses during a ready-to-wear presentation at New York Fashion Week. This new dimension appears to be moving quickly into mainstream luxury and Sedhom has spoken at many events about the future of this technology in regard to the fashion industry. JustLuxe recently interviewed Sedhom, and discussed how she perceives the future of 3D printing, as it relates to the luxury bandwidth, in terms of high fashion and jewelry design.

threeASFOURPhoto Credit: threeASFOUR

JustLuxe: It seems that 3D printers, and its products, are aspects of an emerging technology that many know about, but still are not aware of its creative possibilities. Many have seen some high fashion and jewelry designs emerge. Can you talk about these, and how you think these designs and the 3D printer might change the fashion and jewelry design industry?

Rania Sedhom: A high-end designer that utilizes 3D technology for apparel is threeASFOUR, a high-end 3D jewelry designer is John Brevard. The work of these brands is significant because they are both beautiful and wearable. As more consumers enjoy their designs, they will be subliminally educating others about the advancement of the technology. While these designers do not necessarily allow you to customize their designs to your taste, 3D printing certainly opens the door to easier customization. As Millennials enter the high-end market, customization will become a necessity because that generation is interested in purchasing what they want rather than what is available.

John BrevardPhoto Credit: John Brevard via Facebook

JL: You said in a recent interview, "Certain preeminent fashion brands are concerned about people using their 3D printers at home to create copies of their designs. The brands that are most comfortable with 3D printing right now are jewelry brands. Mainstay brands won’t embrace 3D printing until it’s too late. Higher end brands are going to truly embrace 3D printing when they figure out how they can use it to provide exclusive pieces that are custom made." First, why do you think mainstay brands won't embrace 3D and additive print technologies until it is too late?

RS: I think that many people are skeptical about the prevalence of 3D printing and believe that most households will not obtain a 3D printer, much like most households do not have a traditional printer or scanner or both. However, as that belief or reality changes and consumers begin printing common articles like t-shirts and socks, mainstay brands will have to take notice and action.

threeASFOURPhoto Credit: threeASFOUR

JL: Also, in regards to your earlier comment, how do you define mainstay brands and high-end brands?

RS: This is a difficult question because the answer changes based upon the individual consumer. While no one will argue that a brand such as Hermès is a high brand, for some, that brand is unattainable. I define a high-end brand as a brand that is at an aspirational price point that produces products of preeminent quality and thought. I define a mainstay brand as a brand that is available to the majority of the population that produces functional products that have various life expectancies.

John BrevardPhoto Credit: John Brevard via Facebook

JL: In general, how do you see the luxury brand future when it comes to the use of 3D printing? What problems do you think it might have? And, of course, what advantages, as luxury brands pride themselves on their exclusivity?

RS: A one-of-a-kind piece is the most exclusive possibility. 3D printing will allow luxury brands to create one-of-a-kind pieces in a new way. That is a clear advantage. The luxury brand's biggest concern will be the ease and speed of which copycat products can be manufactured. This will surely be an uphill battle. Also, as we see a shift away from logo-laden products, luxury brands will have to make their designs deceptively simple in order to make it more complicated to copy. One of the easiest ways to know whether a bag, for example, is fake, is from the logo. Without the logos, it will be harder for consumers to spot fakes and may even encourage certain consumers to buy them.

threeASFOURPhoto Credit: threeASFOUR

JL: It seems that the use of the 3D printer is a truly consumer-centric product, one that could eventually eliminate brick and mortar stores, especially if the consumer decides online what he/she wants, then has a 3D print company make it, or make it themselves with their own printer. If I see this correctly, this may put a lot of brands out of business and create new ones. Is this where you think the fashion industry could go?

RS: Actually, I disagree. I think interacting with a brand in real time can never be substituted. Consumers want to touch textiles and see real colors. As you may already know, the resolution of each computer monitor changes how the color appears to each viewer. If I want to a specific blue or green, I want to see that color in person. Also, many consumers may not understand the composition of materials. While most consumers know the difference between cotton, satin, polyester, etc. do they really comprehend the nuance differences? Likely not. That is why some t-shirts can cost $9 and others $250. The price is partly due to the quality of the material. If, as you say, 3D printing will usurp brick and mortar, the brands will need to create educational materials and swatch books for their consumers. I do not think that this is a sustainable standard for companies that have tens or hundreds of thousands of clients. Imagine if Gap had to create a swatch book for each customer or household? That would assuredly change the price point of their products because it would have to take into account the cost of creating, mailing and updating said books. If, instead, they charged consumers for the books, the company may lose some customers.

As for making products themselves, I do think this is going to happen, but I think, on average, it will only affect very basic products like socks, hoop earrings, simple bands and other items with simple designs. Technology in all forms can be frustrating. The average consumer may not have the proclivity for trial and error for specialty products or products that require a perfect fit like pants, button down shirts or intricate jewelry.

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