HILOS Realizes Footwear Designs of Ancuta Sarca with Shoe 3D Printing Platform


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Designer Ancuta Sarca collaborated with HILOS Studio to unveil 3D printed shoes at London Fashion Week. Together, they created a wedge sandal that highlights Ancuta’s design prowess and HILOS’s platform-based strategy aimed at becoming a versatile design partner for 3D printed footwear.

¨With this project, Ancuta Sarca marks a creative expansion into the world of 3D footwear, putting a completely new stamp on how the world views luxury footwear design. This is the first 3D-printed heel that combines printing harder nylons and softer TPU – recycled and recyclable – within one assembly, opening up a completely new range of design possibilities that still embody the performance and comfort that 3D promises,” said HILOS CEO Elias Stahl.

Ancuta Sarca drew inspiration from American Psycho and Fight Club for her collection, aiming to evoke the “unsettling ambiance of an empty airport lounge.” After reading that description a few times, I’m still confused. Nevertheless, the innovative combination of thermoplastic polyurethane and polyamide in a single shoe represents an exciting development in the creation of durable, wearable footwear by merging two distinct 3D printing materials. Furthermore, the collection emphasizes sustainability through the use of deadstock and surplus materials, as well as recycled leather from car seats.

I really like the look of these shoes. They seem much more wearable than a lot of the 3D printed items we usually see. Also, if you look at Ancuta’s previous work, there is a very distinctive feel that these are very much in line with her design. I appreciate that it is her aesthetic and ideas morphed into a 3D printed shoe. With many other 3D printed shoes, we’re getting a kind of plastic clog, future moon base aesthetic that feels like it overpowers brands and designers rather than letting them shine.

Here, the layers are indeed very present, but I guess that might be something you want to do in order to showcase the 3D printing effect. I yearn for a time when we’re past all of this and we can see true explorations of a new design space. The 3D printed shoe market is really moving along quite nicely. Zellerfeld is still making the most waves, but HILOS is making a star-studded throw for the brass ring.

HILOS’s platform approach places the manufacturing onus on the company itself and could see the firm using a broad array of suppliers to make all manner of goods on demand. On-demand manufacturing is not only good for the planet but also for the bottom line. A prototype could be developed cheaply, and orders are taken based on a few prototypes. Then, money changes hands: the designer gets paid, HILOS gets paid, and they order the exact number from suppliers. It’s a beautiful business model. If they manage to keep costs down and speed up the design and prototyping phase, the company can explore working with many designs and designers in an accelerated manner. They could then carve out a niche catering to all manner of super-hot niche designers, potentially becoming very profitable. At the same time, a networked world and social media could see them achieving huge success from time to time, selling hundreds of thousands of pairs at a profit. I like the idea of spreading bets on many talents and looks. If the company has good taste in designers, they could very well have a wonderful business on their hands. We’re one big success away from 3D printed shoes becoming a significant business. Will HILOS or Zellerfeld be the ones to unlock it? I actually believe the market is wide open and it’s anyone’s for the taking. Perhaps you could make the first successful 3D printed shoe?

Photos by Molly Stroll.

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