The Blurred Lines of Fashion and Technology
As technology becomes more advanced and integrated with our lives, some of the biggest names in tech – Amazon, Apple and Google – are taking steps towards fashion with their voice-controlled cameras, smartwatches, and smart jackets. Similarly, some of fashion’s giants, like Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel and Zac Posen from Marchesa are experimenting with tech in their designs. This includes the use of 3D printed pieces and cognitive dresses that change color with social media activity.
It’s clear that fashion and tech are melding, and in the near future high-tech fashion will be more than just a cute stunt. It won’t belong before native app design leads to fashion applications that do more than just let users browse product catalogs.
Thanks to the development of 3D printing, you may soon be able to print your own shoes at home having bought the design online direct from the fashion house. Fabrics woven with sensors could enhance or even replace the need for your smartphone, and your jewelry could help you manage your stress.
3D Printing Fashion
Adidas is one of the front-runners with this technology thanks to project Futurecraft, which began in 2015. Not only are they looking to be able to 3D print their sneakers on a large scale, but also the potential for customization is huge.
The plausibility for having your foot measured perfectly in store – including contours, exact pressure points and gait – would allow for designs to be tailored exactly for individuals. Customers could then purchase the tailored design and print the shoes themselves, or have the 3D prints created by Adidas and delivered within 24 hours.
Sponsored athletes already benefit from exact tailoring; 3D printing could make this available to consumers on a much wider scale when the technology becomes accessible over the coming years.
Google has partnered with Levi’s for project Jacquard to create a denim jacket that has 15 conductive threads woven into the sleeve, allowing wearers to activate certain functions on their smartphones. A Bluetooth cuff links the smartphone to the jacket enabling for a range of interactive functions to take place with a simple gesture: for example, brushing or touching the sleeve to play music or tell the time.
The weaving technology has numerous other possible applications, and Google is working with designers and developers to explore how the sensor-laden fabric can be used in other materials to enhance everyday life.
For the past three years, smart jewelry has been building a following. Big brand names like Swarovski have been working alongside tech companies to create beautiful pieces that do more than just add a touch of bling to your outfit. Swarovski and Misfit’s Shine is another take on activity-tracking accessories that follow wearers’ everyday activities, and provide better understanding of sleep patterns.
Other clever designs like Senstone are unisex and can be worn as a pendant, clip, or bracelet. It records voice memos, translates them into text, then organizes them for you in an app on your smartphone. An LED light indicates it’s recording, but other that’s the only clue this fashionable piece incorporates high-tech features.
The Fashion-Tech Future
At the moment, much of the wearable tech available to consumers ultimately relies on a smartphone. Experts like Kate Sicchio, assistant professor at New York University for integrated digital media sees the future as being a ‘more embedded’ one. This refers to an age where fashion moves away from using a smartphone as the brain of the technology, and onto having small micro-controllers in our garments.
Doing so will allow our clothes to collect data more efficiently and without the need for an additional device. Once this begins to happen, a real breakthrough in fashionable tech will be close at hand. It will take an innovator who can think outside the existing fashion-tech box, and a continuing partnership between fashion and technology companies.
Author: Rae Steinbach
Publish Date-Feb 2018