Made locally in New York City, each shoe comprises at least 90 percent components manufactured on a small desktop printer. To maintain the premise—and promise—of rapid prototyping, hand-finishing is kept to a minimum, says Huang.

Continuum has run more than 30 materials through the paces of the design process, including newer materials like wood composite and carbon fiber.

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Huang dubs 3D printing the “leapfrog technology” for sustainable manufacturing in the fashion industry. “Designing with 3D printing must not seek to merely replicate existing products, but to design better products than what is currently possible,” Huang writes on Continuum’s website. “Significantly, the urethane soles on the shoes are also 3D-printed. So, these designs are a virtually zero-waste product.”

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But 3D printing doesn’t just reap supply-chain gains such as automation and digital distribution. The process can also cobble together a better product. “The structure inside the printed shoes is largely hollow, which makes them much lighter,” Huang says. “Not only is this a benefit to making platform heels, but it has much potential with application to high-performance and athletic footwear.”

+ Laural Tree Sandal $250

+ Continuum Fashion