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Sara Hegazy

I’m not sure if the Metropolitan Museum of Art imagined just how popular their “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” exhibit was going to be until the crowds started pouring in. The exhibit, which opened on May 5, was scheduled to close on August 14, but after attracting 350,000 visitors in the first nine weeks, the museum decided to extend it until September 5. It’s not surprising, in my opinion – the technology of fashion is a fascinating subject, especially in these days of 3D printing, robotics and smart tech.

Egyptian fashion designer Sara Hegazy has been designing for 20 years, and has seen hundreds of trends come and go. 3D printed fashion won’t be just a flash in the pan, though, she believes. Hegazy, who specializes in stunning evening gowns and wedding dresses, is planning to begin working with 3D printing and fiber optics in her designs. Not only does the technology expand the possibilities for what can be done with clothing, it’s also a sustainable, environmentally-friendly means of production.

“First of all, 3D printing can supply a zero-waste production, which is one of the main negative post-production obstacles, she said. “As for haute couture and intricate hand embroidered pieces, think of magical romantic garments, with the real effect of 3D, that were drawn and designed on a computer then printed.”

Hegazy has built up an impressive reputation as one of Egypt’s most cutting-edge designers, and her success reflects her skill. The recipient of numerous awards, she is one of the few Egyptian designers to have showcased her work in Europe. She’s a bold designer, and it’s going to take a lot of boldness to bring 3D printed fashion to Egypt.

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“In Egypt we mostly follow the international industry rather than create our own concepts,” she said. “Social media has created severe obstacles in the face of creativity as many designers would rather import international trends and concepts in an attempt to boost sales rather than create their own ideas; unfortunately, creativity does not sell in Egypt.”

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3D printed dress from BINT THANI.

She hopes to change that, however, and looks to other Middle Eastern designers who have been incorporating technology into their fashion. She points to Dubai’s Khulood Thani, founder of BINT THANI, as an example of the expansion and experimentation beginning to happen in the Middle Eastern fashion industry. Thani’s “Urban Corp” dress incorporated 3D printed cubes for a unique texture and appearance.

Hegazy thinks that 3D printed fashion has the potential to catch on not only for its aesthetic possibilities but for its ability to let clients be part of the design process. With digital design, clients can more easily work alongside the designer, requesting alterations and adding their own creativity. On the downside, if 3D printing and other technology become popular methods of fashion design in Egypt, traditional seamstresses may lose business.

That’s not just a concern with clothing, either, as other traditional industries in Egypt begin to move forward with new technology. Compared to other countries in the Middle East, Egypt has been relatively slow to adopt 3D printing, but that seems to be changing. Mohamed Hegazy, tutor architecture interior designer, is the director of morph-d, a design studio and fablab focused on technology and technological education. morph-d is an Authorized Rhino Training Center and offers several 3D printing and CNC machining services.

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Sara Hegazy with one of her models.

“We love to share our knowledge, machines, and space with anyone for the sake of research and experimentation,” he said. “Our target is very simple: a better architecture/design scene for and in Egypt…Various different fields currently know about 3D printing as an attainable technology. I cannot confidently claim that they are aware of the technology’s availability in Egypt, yet I am sure they already consider it a near-future possibility.”

He believes that 3D printing “could be the future of fashion,” thanks to the technology’s versatility in terms of fabric and texture, as well as its ability to deliver complete design accuracy. As for Sara Hegazy, she states that 3D printing won’t be the only new technology she’ll be working with in her design. She already uses a small laser-cutting machine in her workshop, and admits that it may be the most attainable technology for the moment – but she’ll definitely be proceeding with fiber optics and 3D printing, too. It may be a risky move in Egypt’s current fashion industry, but as we’ve seen before, 3D printing tends to be a risk that pays off. Do you think it’s a positive move for this designer? Discuss further in the 3D Printing & Fiber Optics in Fashion forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Daily News Egypt / Images: Sara Hegazy via Facebook]
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