Balenciaga has been sending $3K 3D printed high heels to celebrities, but does that translate to everyday fashion?
I must have missed the first round of press on this, as apparently all the gossip mags picked it up last month, but high fashion has met 3D printing again.
3D printed shoes are nothing new at this point, though they’re still far from being fully mainstream. I have a few pairs of partially and fully 3D printed shoes myself, from the likes of OESH, Feetz, and Wiivv (now FitMyFoot). Major athletic lines including adidas and Nike have introduced 3D printing into their shoes’ midsoles.
Those products are all targeted around the generally good idea of being functional and wearable, perhaps even accessible to everyday people like you and me.
But the first 3D printed shoes I heard of, some years back, were more about form than function. They were pieces of literal art. And that sense hasn’t left, as 3D printing is still often regarded as being relatively inaccessible to the everyperson. The technology is relatively expensive — and so too are some of the end products, including intentionally. High-end fashion is costly. Often that cost is just tied to the tag on the product more than the actual technologies used to produce it, but sometimes the two go together.
In Balenciaga’s case, the hefty price tag is likely more tied to the name than the tech, but we can’t discount that a fully 3D printed heel that could stand up to (presumably) regular wear in the real world requires some very real science behind it.
In June, several high-profile celebrities highlighted their new 3D printed heels on their Instagram feeds. I spent longer in writing this story than I care to admit trolling Kim Kardashian’s feed to try to find her original image of her shoes, but failed; fortunately, several other outlets captured the photos attributed to her Insta. Kardashian and her sister Kylie Jenner, along with Hailey Bieber, showed off their swanky new Balenciaga heels, all 3D printed “just for them.”
The Balenciaga site itself lists the heels available for sale in your choice of black or pink (no Kim K silver or Mrs The Biebs yellow for you) for the low, low price of $3,250.
Little technical information is included about their manufacture; the site says only of the “3D 110mm Pump in black 3D printed rubber” product details:
3D printed rubber
- Pointed toe
- 110mm arch
- Balenciaga logo embossed on the side
- Made in Italy
- Wipe with a soft cloth
“Material: 100% technical polyurethane”
Given the TPU material and the look of the shoes, it’s pretty clear they were 3D printed using FFF/extrusion-based technology. Which actual 3D printer and which specific material formulation aren’t readily available.
But they do raise the question: would you pay $3K for 3D printed plastic shoes?
I found a much more accessible style on Thingiverse.
Still, there’s a cute reshare from Kylie Jenner’s Instagram of her daughter Stormi unboxing the shoes (and Kylie’s mention of 3D printing).