Berlin-based label Kasia Kucharska is proving that 3D-printing is the manufactory method of the future – even with clothing production. Kasia Kucharska, Wanda Wollinsky and Reiner Törner are working together collaboratively on the brand, who met during their fashion design studies at Berlin’s Universität der Künste. Their designs already attracted some attention, recently winning Highsnobiety’s Berlin, Berlin prize. Now, they are launching their second collection, refining their technique even more.
The brand’s unique lace designs have their origins in Kasia Kucharska’s master collection. At that time she still used silicone, applied by hand onto tights with a confectioner’s syringe. Now, the brand refined their production and use of materials, switching to liquid latex: “The master collection was just a prototype. Only then did we discover that there is actually a material that is even better than silicone, that being latex. It is mostly known as yard goods, but we use the liquid form”. It took some time to perfect the production process and find someone who implements it and can produce the garments. “We didn’t even know what we were looking for at the beginning. Which manufacturer makes something like this out of latex? But we found someone, and even then we had to try out an insane amount.”
The process that has proven most effective, is creating vector drawings of the lace design applied to a mesh base by a 3D printer using the liquid material. Printing the individual pieces takes about two hours, drying 24 to 48 hours. Then, the fronts and backs, sleeves and legs will be sewn together in their Berlin studio. This method of production has many benefits: “The good thing is that the printing machine only produces what’s necessary, and there’s no pre-consumer waste, which is usually scraps and off-cuts. The items are also customizable, so any way you want. The file can be changed according to your measurements wider, narrower, larger. We can easily create custom made unique pieces”. But these are not the only sustainable advantages, the material itself also offers some: Latex is a product completely without chemicals, made from natural rubber from trees. Meaning, if you wait long enough, the garment can decompose itself after several years.
A lot of trying out, experimenting and scientific research over the last few months has now resulted in a new, second collection by the three designers. “It was important to us that we could use this technology, which we had developed, to produce clothes without waste, and to make things that people would then also want to wear. It doesn’t just remain an idea or gimmick, but can really make a meaningful contribution to clothing”. The collection available now stays true to Kasia Kucharska’s unique lace designs, but some things are new: “We started to work more with colors. And we also have looser garments, like a blazer, it’s not all completely skin-tight anymore. We also have designs that don’t have the base material underneath and are made entirely of latex, for example a bra that is super stretchy and fits all sizes”.
A term that comes up several times in conversation with the designers is ‘functional ornament’: “This is the main starting point of our work, taking a functional element that already exists and creating an ornament from it. We started with underwear and silicone is used on the inside of stockings or bras so that they don’t slip, but we decided not to hide this material at all, but to bring it confidently to the outside and to completely decorate the garment with it”. This idea not only plays a role in the design of clothing, but the brand can also envisage transferring the ‘functional ornament’ to other areas in the future as well as experimenting even more with latex and 3D printing.