Haute-Tech Fashion: is Egypt ready to wear technology on its sleeves?

Nayera Yasser
9 Min Read
Alexander McQueen used robotic arms to create a historic presentation in 1999

In 1999, model Shalom Harlow stood on a revolving platform while her classic white dress was completely transformed by none other than a pair of robotic arms. The shocking presentation was part of the late Alexander McQueen’s spring show and the beginning of a new era in fashion.

Technology has greatly affected all aspects of humanity in the past few decades. Furthermore, it has altered many of the industry’s old concepts. The evolution of garments might have started with a complementary presentation; however, today even the fabric itself is dictated by the time’s latest inventions.

Sara Hegazy is one of the pioneering local designers that have managed to break boundaries and take their designs to the heart of Europe (Photo from Facebook)
Sara Hegazy is one of the pioneering local designers that have managed to break boundaries and take their designs to the heart of Europe
(Photo from Facebook)

“Chanel once said ‘fashion is a matter of proportion’. Proportions are science and the new science of fashion is ‘Tech Fashion’. Our current mission is to figure how technology can advance services in fashion in order to gain sustainability,” said designer Sara Hegazy, who does not only believe in the advantages of technology but is also dedicating her time to learning more about the recent techniques.

Sara is one of Egypt’s pioneering fashion designers who has not only managed to showcase her collection in European fashion shows, but has also won several respectable awards.

Hegazy aims to introduce fibre optics technology as well as 3D printing to her upcoming designs. According to the designer, the new methods will not only solve several issues, they will also provide sustainable and environment-friendly fashion.

“First of all, 3D printing can supply a zero-waste production, which is one of the main negative post-production obstacles. As for haute couture and intricate hand embroidered pieces, think of magical romantic garments, with the real effect of 3D, that were drawn and designed on a computer then printed,” said Sara.

On the other hand, Mohamed Hegazy, tutor architecture interior designer and Morph-d fab director, believes that 3D printing could be the beginning of a new era in all creative industries. The entrepreneur’s Morph-d fab is a design studio interested in mixing fabrication, technology, computation, interaction, and education.

“We love to share our knowledge, machines, and space with anyone for the sake of research and experimentation. Our target is very simple: a better architecture/design scene for and in Egypt. We provide design and fabrication services and consultations. We are an authorised Rhino Training Centre, and we offer access to our fully equipped fabrication lab in Cairo,” said Mohamed.

According to Mohamed, the new technology does not only give more accurate results, it also provides instantaneous products that are eco-friendly.  “A wide range of mock-ups and modules that are often used in every detail during the production process of various local industries, as well as the advertising industry, can totally depend on 3D printing,” said Mohamed.

As much as Haute-Tech fashion is a hot topic everywhere around the world, the local market is still not aware of the technology. Egyptian designers currently face endless issues concerning quality, fabrics, and, most importantly, craftsmanship; nonetheless, technology is still not counted as a possible solution.

“In Egypt we mostly follow the international industry rather than create our own concepts. Social media has created severe obstacles in the face of creativity as many designers would rather import international trends and concepts in an attempt to boost sales rather than create their own ideas; unfortunately, creativity does not sell in Egypt,” said Sara.

Rami Kadi FW 2015 / 2016 Couture Collection: Lucioles (Photo from Facebook)
Rami Kadi FW 2015 / 2016 Couture Collection: Lucioles
(Photo from Facebook)

According to the designer, the needed technology is currently available locally; nonetheless, it needs a risk taker that would take one step further in order to change the local fashion industry forever. Meanwhile, the current restricted number of haute-tech designers around the world makes this step even harder.

With that said, the international market has steadily gone through various phases in order to prepare the global market for such a radical trend. On the other hand, the local market is still stuck with traditional materials and classic hand-made embroidery. Accordingly, marketing the new technology is highly expected to be extremely tricky.

A few months ago, the world gazed at the metropolitan’s iconic entrance gates in New York as Hollywood’s A-list stars walked down the red carpet with garments that looked traditional from afar, yet, were mostly manufactured using cutting-edge technology.

This year’s Met Gala theme was called Manus x Machina. In other words, this round of the yearly exhibition was dedicated to monitoring and defining the recent steps that the international fashion industry has taken towards technology.

The stars’ garments as well as the exhibited outfits were not only eye-catching, they also seemed to imitate normal, fabric-made dresses. According to Mohamed, that is another advantage of 3D printing as the technology secures instant and accurate results in any given texture.

“The materials could be as smooth as silk or as hard as solid objects. The option of creating the fabric itself or controlling specific parts in the design are the main reasons why 3D printing could be the future of fashion,” said Mohamed.

International designers such as Iris Van Herpen and Noa Raviv have brilliantly managed to create complete seasonal collections through utilising the era’s upcoming designing star. Meanwhile, legendary designers such as Carolina Herrera have depended on 3D printing for eccentric embellishments and accessories.

“Emirati fashion designer and founder of BINT THANI, Khlood Althani, has already embraced the technology as she has added 3D-printed cubes to create an intriguing dress entitled Urban Corp. It is something that every fashion insider should check in order to define the latest steps that the Middle Eastern fashion scene has been taking,” said Sara.

Kadi’s FW16 collection was made using luminous fibre optics (Photo from Facebook)
Kadi’s FW16 collection was made using luminous fibre optics
(Photo from Facebook)

According to the fashion designer, aside from the accuracy of this module, 3D printing also gives equal control to both designers and clients. To Sara, fashion does not stop at sketching and stitching; it also includes the psychological aspect of how the wearer feels within the garment. Accordingly, 3D printing will aid clients in digitally adjusting or creating their desired fashion.

Implementing this technology in Egypt would be a radical movement against artisans and seamstresses, who due to their illiteracy would probably fail to learn the new technology and operate a machine. Nevertheless, a few other local industries have already started taking steps towards embracing the futuristic concept.

“Various different fields currently know about 3D printing as an attainable technology. I cannot confidently claim that they are aware of the technology’s availability in Egypt, yet I am sure they already consider it a near-future possibility.  On the other hand, 3D printing is already becoming a hot topic in the Middle East,” said Mohamed.

With that said, the new era will also be dominated by various extra technologies including laser cut, fibre optics, and smart fabrics. Lebanese fashion designer Rami Kadi already made history a few seasons ago, when he became the first Arab designer to create a complete collection using fibre optics.

“Out of the decade’s popular technologies, laser cut may be the most attainable as I currently use a small machine at my workshop to create small motifs. Meanwhile, fibre optics is easily processed and highly recommended for show-stopping collections. Finally, 3D printing is the most popular, especially outside Egypt, for its practicality,” said Sara.


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