As Art Basel got underway in Miami on Friday, the just-unveiled Hilos Studio platform geared up to launch at the event with a new proposition and a new partnership. According to the company, the 3D printing platform allows anyone from brands to independent designers to offer on-demand shoes, and fashion house Unknown Union signed on with Hilos as the first to take it up.
In a statement, Hilos claimed that it built “the first high-mix, low-volume supply chain for on-demand footwear,” and that allows greater flexibility for a wide selection of smaller runs, so they can adapt to changes in the market. In doing so, the company created a platform that significantly expands its product purview from women’s fashion footwear to anything ranging from technical outdoor to luxury.
Studio launched at Art Basel with a luxury sandal designed by Unknown Union.
“We stand at a turning point in our industry where we have the chance to change the way we make [product],” Elias Stahl, Hilos’ chief executive officer and cofounder, told WWD. “Hilos Studio unleashes the independent brand or designer to make stunning 3D-printed shoes on-demand without inventory or waste.”
Sustainability has always been one of the strongest arguments for 3D printing, because of on-demand manufacturing’s potential to reduce waste. In its statement, Hilos pointed out that 24 billion shoes are produced every year, and one in five of them ends up in landfills. Addressing that issue, however, shouldn’t have to involve compromising the footwear or its artistry. That’s where 3D printing comes in, because it allows for customization — even “intricate and complex designs that traditional methods struggle to achieve,” as the statement put it.
Hilos outlined notable support from influential figures from footwear and fashion’s executive suite.
This year, longtime adviser Jonathan Cheung, the former head of design and innovation at Levi’s, was joined by Eric Sprunk, former Nike chief operating officer and new Hilos board member, as well as Greg Bui, also an ex-Nike executive, and James Carnes, who hails from Adidas. Creative directors bring experience from Rapha, Allbirds and Arcteryx, while the Vanguard Group’s former chief brand officer leads market strategy.