Three weeks after I signed up online and sent them my measurements, I received my new dress from Constrvct in New York, shipped here to Torino in Italy.
Italian Customs hit me up for 37 euros in duty fees, unaccustomed as they are to importing dresses from Manhattan rather than exporting them there. However, the sealed package was light and the blue dress arrived in fine condition. What excitement and happiness: a dress that is entirely personalized, computer-assembled, and even the pattern was generative art! I myself chose the fabric, the color, and the shape, and then some computer-governed devices sliced it up and stitched it out, for me and me alone.
Five years ago, when our theme at the Share art conference in Torino was “digital manufacturing,” a prospect like this still seemed remote and futuristic. Three-d fabrication machines were still the industrial monsters for cars and aircraft, not swift consumer gear for clothes, furniture, or kitchen gadgets.
It’s still a bit dreamlike to order and manufacture personalized objects sent from New York to Italy, but in the time that passed, little hacker, Maker, and fabrication ateliers are springing up in Italy like mushrooms. They’re mostly retailing simple curios in plastic, vinyl and rubber, though: a real dress that comes from clicking a website still has a Cinderella quality.
With that said, the dress, which is a personalized version of Constrvct model #2385, “Spines” from “Nervous System,” is a genuine dress — it’s not some mere CafePress T-shirt. I threw the dress over my head like Cinderella, zipped it up, and went out to road-test it on the busy streets of Torino.