The co-founders of Berlin-based additive manufacturing luxury jewelry house Vojd (pronounced Void), CEO Christian Hartung and Creative Director Hristiyana Vucheva, transformed their business in 2013 knowing that advancements in 3D printing would disrupt the traditional relationship between couturier and client. The history of couture fashion is one of extreme luxury in which a few elite houses, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Givenchy, provided handmade garments and accessories to ultrawealthy, discerning clients. These clients could purchase whatever garments they wished, so fashion houses aimed to wow them with a level of intricacy and customization that could only be provided by the hands of skilled tailors and seamstresses. These professionals made the garments to the client’s physical specifications and incorporated both the artistic designer’s and prospective buyer’s visions into the final product.
No longer do artistic directors, seamstress, and tailors monopolize the understanding of how a client’s body is best complimented by materials, shapes, and compositions. Using selective laser sintering (SLS) and other additive printing techniques, Vojd has worked with numerous fashion houses including Akris, Louis Vuitton, and Prabal Gurung to create high quality, technically intricate jewelry designs. In 2016, Vojd worked with Akris to produce its Défilé ring using SLS, which was inspired by the polyhedron geometric structure known as the Naoshima Pavilion which is perched on Japan’s Kagawa’s shoreline.
Prior to the entry of Vojd, many luxury fashion houses relegated additive printing to rough prototyping, as post-processing costs were seemingly prohibitively expensive. Hartung and Vucheva determined that focus on three key areas of production; product, materials, and finish, would create a design process that produced minutely detailed jewelry economically in smaller quantities. Vojd’s printing processes use schematics that can project geometric designs formerly too delicate to create traditionally, new materials that preclude the need for assembly, and an in-house knowledge of the finishing process that simplifies the 10 or more steps required to create a final product.
The organization continuously explores breakthroughs in 3D manufacturing, including topology optimization and voxel control, to provide fashion houses with increasingly edgy ways to provide clients with one-of-a-kind goods at lower costs. Hartung cites that while the cost of traditional manufacturing has increased since 2013, the costs of additive manufacturing have decreased 10% a year, every year. Vojd is using these decreased costs and increased capabilities to create its own line of goods, including necklaces, rings, and bracelets. In marketing campaigns and media, the business promotes its local design aesthetic and potential for increase customer personalization.
In the medium-term, Vojd does not simply want to partner with fashion houses on their individual projects, but also create manufacturing programs that can be licensed to each individual brand. This would allow Vojd to capitalize on its technical knowledge and secure market share in what is sure to become a large portion of the fashion industry.
I recommend that the company focus on partnerships that enable it to publicize intricate, scalable product design at economical prices, while creating an eponymous line that allows for experimentation and the showcasing of products created using novel technology. Though McKinsey cited customization for individual clients as one of the hottest trends, I caution against this approach for the mass market. Firstly, mass market product customization is kitsch and counter to the high fashion niche that Vojd has entered. Secondly, given current production costs, it is unlikely that mass market customization will be profitable for some time.
Questions for classmates:
1. Would knowing that a piece of jewelry or garment is made by additive printing influence your purchasing decision?
2. What if you were told that something was made “locally, using cutting edge technology to create the perfect fit and decrease the level of waste for which the fashion industry is infamous?”
1: Vicki M. Young, “3D printing firm Vojd Eyes Luxury Fashion” WWDI, 23 January, 2018, https://wwd.com/business-news/technology/3d-printing-firm-vojd-eyes-luxury-fashion-retail-technology-11114018/ , accessed November 2018.
2: Alan S. Brown, “Chain Reaction: Why additive manufacturing is about to transform the supply chain,” Mechanical Engineering: The magazine of ASME, October 1, 2018, http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=dc56893e-c43b-4eae-9519-9d8578acafc0%40pdc-v-sessmgr03 accessed November 2018.
3: Rachel Arthur, “ Loewe unveils 3D printed bracelet in new menswear campaign” The Current Daily, Feburary 2, 2018, https://thecurrentdaily.com/2017/02/02/loewe-3d-printed-bracelet/ accessed November 2018.
4:Elzabeth Paton. “In Berlin, a Design Studio Puts Luxury into 3-D” New York Times, 13 November 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/fashion/3d-printing-vojd-berlin.html, accessed November 2018.
5: Vodj Studios. “About Us.” https://vojdstudios.com/pages/about-us, accseed November 2018.