Danit Peleg is a young fashion designer based in Tel Aviv. She’s always been interested in the technological world and that’s actually made her fortune. Graduated just two years ago, now she’s one of the youngest talents, due to her new approach to fashion. Entirely made from house with a 3D printer – you can read more here -, her final collection made talk about herself: the web actually went crazy, reaching 7 million views on Facebook and being invited to speak at TED, and everyone talked about her.
That fame allowed her to create the opening dress for the Paralympics games in Rio and all of this became nowadays her career, because everything she does now is trying to push technology even further, to translate her ideas of digitalising fashion into reality.
Here you find the interview with the Israeli designer.
Where did you take the idea of 3D printing? How did it all start and why did you decide to go across this new fashion technique without having the certainty of the result and the mass media’s opinion?
Everything started when I did an internship in New York. There I worked in a fashion house and helped them with their 3D collection. They worked with big industrial printers and everything was so stressful, because every dress was more like a sculpture and costed about 20.000$, but it was made of a fragile plastic that broke at every step of the models. When I came back to Israel a friend gave me a 3D printed necklace: it was the first time for me seeing how a little printer worked. I thought that if I could print a necklace, than I could print everything, so from that moment I started making researches to discover why fashion houses didn’t use little printers. I had just 9 months to create five garments for five models and just after 3 months I realized that my project was actually possible.
What did inspire you and where do you take your inspiration from?
I guess my biggest inspiration comes just by living in Tel Aviv, that is a very innovative city. Technology is part of our culture and it tries to improve our lives using it. There are a lot of start-ups around me, and also my husband and my friends work for them. We always have conversation about technology, being aware in what’s new in our world. All of that is translating in my mind in how I can transform everything I see, know and feel into the fashion world, by creating fashionable and wearable garments.
All your collections came from a piece of art: tell me about your connection with it.
A part of studying fashion is also studying art. I think that everything happens in our life is a change that starts from art history and moves on. Every time I start working on a new collection I create a connection with traditional art and that actually happened also with my final collection. I just hang The Liberty leading the People in my studio and studied it. I didn’t even think it could be my start point, but I felt it could lead me to achieve something big. So I went over the meaning of the artwork, of the Industrial Revolution personified in a Woman: I started studying its composition, because I usually modify the geometric structure to make it look like a 3D picture. The colours came from the 3D glasses’ lens, the green and the red, and everything turned to be the structure of my collection, made of a series of triangles. I used the same structure for the red jacket too, inspired also by the motorcycle’s jacket, that has the work Liberté on the back, not just because it remembers the artwork, but because I felt so free in creating this collection. At the end I just put that triangles pattern in every dress and item.
How would you describe your design?
Everything happens in the computer, so it became the most important part of my design’s process. It’s much more beneficial to me, because I can see everything I do across a display, instead of using the traditional paper and rules and textile, that needs to be cut without even knowing how it could react. It allows me to make anyone a dress without even meet that person before, because I just need to put the measurement into an app to make a dress that fits like a glove. I think that’s the best direction we’re going through in working with 3D printing, not just for me as a designer, but also for the entire world, because today we care more about our environment and the provenience of our fashion than before.
You’re the first designer who gave the chance to your clients to personalize their own jacket, but how do you think your invention could work in the future? Do you think most brand could approach too to your methods? And do you think the possibility to personalize and create our own ideas could in any case reduce the questions on the market and solve the problem of fast fashion and waste of clothing?
The first idea is not of me making a jacket for my customers. I just wanted to allow them to make their own jacket in the size, the colour and with the word they want. Me as a designer, I don’t have any inventory in it, I’m just a median between the client and the final result: I just print and sell something made for one specific person, because not anyone has the knowledge or the printer to make it on their own. I think the same thing could happen with every brand: in a few years, when every people will have a printer in their own house and the material will be much more like cotton, silk, leather or any other textile, designers will just need to create a tons of designs and upload them on their website. Every customer who loves their ideas, their silhouettes, their point of view as a fashion house, could download and buy the files. In that way, we could move to fast fashion, that requires a lot of problems to our environment due to the ship the garments from a part to the other, to super fast fashion, because it’s all going to be based on files. People could decide what to wear due to the latest uploads and the weather and print it while getting ready: for example one can decide to print a dress in wool or silk depending on a sunny or rainy day. I just image it in that way, because no one knows where the world’s going, but for sure everything in our life’s becoming more digital, as also said by experts. A lot of regular and physical things will turn digital and can be controlled by some digital devices, such phones.
Coming back to the collections, I read your garment is made of Filaflex, but how does it work? Its elasticity gives to the material the possibility to stretch as much as possible, so to create one size clothes, or does each piece of clothing need to have a precise size and to be tailored? And how are all the pieces assembled together?
My collections are made of Filaflex, one of the most flexible material you can find today on the market. It’s also very strong and you’ll be surprised to discover how soft it is, compared to how it appears to the photos. Anyways it doesn’t look like cotton or a regular T-shirt, but I tried to make it as fluid and soft as possible on the skin, combining it with other flexible textiles. The machine I work with is very small, so I need to move the design on a 3D model software to make it fit to the printer and print it in many little pieces. Every piece I make is meant to be something, like a sleeve or the back of a dress, so I have no waste and no leftovers. I can also decide if to make it fit in a specific measurement or to make it small or medium, etc, but I can control each piece because each one is unique. If one is small but has long arms, I can make longer sleeves but leaving the rest of the garment in the size small, to make the dress fits like a glove.
Your design is made of a series of triangles and they look like lace, but is it just a stylistic choice to have these net patterns or it would be too heavy to wear a thick weave?
I can definitely control everything of my collection. Your imagination is the only limitation you have with 3D printing, so when I design something with triangles, it’s because I decided to do it that way, but it could have been circles or something else. Of course when I create something that hasn’t got that pattern, for example the black dress that isn’t a see-through, it’s more heavy than the others with open materials, but I can control the thickness and the weight of it.
Israel is your city and also the place where you studied. How’s the fashion world considered there? We’re used to see Israeli designers working in the haute couture, why did you decide to approach to the ready to wear and how is your fashion different from the other designers of your nationality?
In Israel we’re well-known for wedding ad evening dress, so the design is very heavy and strong, compared to how the people dress every day. We’re a “beach” Country, so anyone’s very casual and sporty here, wearing flip flop, for example. With me it’s different: any designer into 3D printing that I found online makes unwearable dress, more like sculptures. I believe technology at the end would improve our lives, so I just wanted to create something one can wear in every moment of his life, for example to go out at a coffee shop or at the supermarket. I have some dresses and skirts, part of them made of real fabrics, the other part made with 3D printer, and I totally wear them everyday. People get curious because they want to touch it and see what it is, but you can wear it with everything, even a pair of jeans. I guess I really wanted to achieve something that is ready to wear and to go out with this technology, in a very casual look.
How would you describe your city in three words?
I would say very open-minded and innovative. If one goes out with a crazy idea, there will surely be someone there listening to you and helping you to achieve something big. Compared to New York, where everything’s more official and no one is there willing their time and knowledge, we’re more open to new ideas and things, so it’s easy to find willing people that helps you and makes you understand why you can or cannot do a thing.
You worked on your project for a whole year, what did you listen to for the whole creation’s period of your collection to give yourself the power to go straight on your work?
All I listened to was my own intuition, because my teachers told me my project wasn’t possible. It’s been a great lesson to me, as a person and as a student, to understand that one’s opinion doesn’t mean anything and in life you must take risks and believe in yourself and your visions to achieve and go through a big challenge. Before starting my final collection I didn’t know anything about 3D printing, I just learnt anything possible by myself. So, basically, I just listened to my gout feelings and intuition.
Are there any other fashion designers that inspire you?
Yes, of course. First of all Balmain. I’m always seeking to see what’s in the next collections and Oliver Rousteing will come up with. I think he’s a genius when it comes to textures but he’s also very innovative and that’s why he’s always so creative with his interesting designs. I hope one day I’ll be able to work with him. The other designer I’m always looking up for is Iris Van Herpen. She’s very innovative in the cutting edges and she’s totally my mentor from ever, since when I realized that fashion was my thing and I started to look at collections. She was capturing my eyes and I guess she will always been one of my biggest inspirations.
You made a dress for the dancer Amy Purdy at the Paralympic Games, but who would you like to dress one day?
I for now guess Gal Gadot, she’s an actress from Israel and she’s also done an amazing work in Wonder Woman. I think she brings a lot of proud to my Country and to me as a person and as a designer. She’s on my target list at the moment. I think she’s very down to earth and she’s totally like a super woman, so I guess that’s kind of cheeky but that’s what I have now in my mind.
Not such a long time ago I read about the building of a house entirely made with the 3d print, such as some mechanical parts of cars. What’s your opinion about the use of 3D technology in our future lives?
First of all I think we cannot avoid technology in our life, but we should embrace it, or it’d be like refusing the knowledge of our world and society. If technology exists, it is to improve skills and tools to build houses, car or anything else. In my opinion anything won’t change: machines won’t get our jobs, because there will be others to feed our needs. I think it’d be a goal to have machines in our work, because in hundred years man won’t need to work anymore, but be able to give himself in any important stuffs, like society or human being.
What are your future plans?
My future plan is to continue innovating and creating new things with this technology. I’m working on a new collection in which every dress is made of different kind of technology. I’m also working on the development of better filaments, which is the material you can fill the printer with, and I’m trying to achieve something that will feel like fashion, like a regular textile, and I just hope to continue creating and doing amazing collaborations I really enjoy what I do and I can’t really call it as a job and I’m open to achieve my vision, making in reality everything we talked about.
Close your eyes and think about a shape or an object that would describe your country.
The first thing that comes up is the heart shape.