At the London Fashion week, a winner of the 2013 International Woolmark Prize has been announced in February ’13. Christian Wijnants of Antwerp, Belgium will not only receive the 100,000 Australian dollar prize, but his collection will be carried by top retailers worldwide.
The International Woolmark Prize was started in the 1930’s by a NGO collaborative of wool manufacturers as a way to not only highlight innovations in wool fabrics, and to encourage design, but also to grow the world demand of wool, especially though fashion and apparel. The International Woolmark Prize has helped to launch a number of designers including Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent.
It is fascinating to see how such international competitions help to motivate and spur innovation in the fashion industry. In the 3d printing world, competitions are also a vehicle to promote the field, encourage the innovation and especially development of new materials, and to help develop new 3D Printing design talent.
When it comes to 3d printing and fashion, i.Materialise has been a leader in proposing international challenges. These challenges have helped to bring to light a number of amazing 3d printing fashion designers, and have stretched the imagination when it comes to 3d printed accessories. Some of i.Materialise past competitions have included the Hats Off to 3D Printing Challenge, as well as Metal Accessories Challenge, The Bead Design Challenge, and the i.materialise Jewelry Design Challenge. The winning designs of these challenges have been displayed in widely publicised and covered by international press fashion shows, such as the summer 2013 3D Printed Fashion show in Malaysia, the first ever fashion show to take place in Asia.
Shapeways also has promoted a number of contests, most notably the iPhone accessory contest, with some interesting results.
Yet as individual companies, there is only so much that i.Materialise and Shapeways can do. What is needed now is an industry collaborative, an association of 3d printing companies, 3d printing suppliers, and others involved in the Additive Manufacturing/Rapid Prototyping/ 3d Printing field.
Such a collaborative would allow these companies to come together to form an organization for promotion of the additive manufacturing industry, much as the wool industry has done. Among perhaps more ambitious goals of setting industry standards and quality measures, such an association could announce an annual fashion competition with a substantial (for the winning designer) prize. How much would such a competition help to find amazing designers, and bring the 3d printing to the forefront of fashion!
Now, any thoughts on how to make this happen?