For such a young woman, Natalia Allen has a very impressive track record. She graduated Parsons in 2004 as Designer of the Year (a title shared with Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford). She then became a recognized Young Global Leader under the World Economic Forum, giving speeches across the globe with a focus on making fashion better. So, it came as no surprise when she upped the ante to combine her commitment to sustainability and design, with her technologically advanced geeky side to create a label of 3D printed clothing made by robots. Totally awesome, I know.
I stopped by her midtown studio in New York City to check out these 3D pieces and was amazed by their quality, subtle yet significant design details, and the thoughtfulness behind what Natalia has set out to do.
What inspired you to start your own label?
While designing for multi-national fashion companies I was exposed to – exploitative labor practices, the excessive waste of materials and natural resources and the widespread use of toxic chemicals. With all of the emerging technologies in fashion I thought there had to be a better way. After significant research, I spent several months in factories learning about advancements in apparel manufacturing. With the freedom to choose how my garments are made I designed beautiful minimalist clothing in the USA, using robots that conserve energy and textiles.
How did you come into the 3D printing model of production? Where do you think we are headed in that space?
I view technology as a tool. When applied intelligently it can help designers to solve problems or unlock creative potential. I think we will continue to see fashion companies adopt new technologies such as 3-d printing. The advancements will compliment, rather than eliminate, traditional and artisanal practices.
3. What do you wish to communicate most with your clothes?
Aesthetically? Primarily the pleasure and power of thoughtful simplicity.
4. Aside from the work that you do, what do you value in your life?
Relationships, learning and play.
5. What are you reading or listening to now?
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, computer scientist and President of Pixar.
6. Where do you find inspiration?
I'm inspired when observing how cultures dress, live and eat. Also when I’m in the water; swimming, surfing or sailing.