Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Future of Fashion: Clothing or Digital Skins?

Imagine a fabric that can make you invisible!

If you play video games, you know how much fun it is to change your avatar's skin.  Poof!  You're in a different color, a different style or possibly even a different dimension.  But will it be possible to do similar things with our clothing in real life?  The scientists focused on wearable technology think these ideas are closer than we can imagine...

Throwing around terms like "data by design," "smart textiles," and "the digitization of our clothes," these tech wizards are working on everything from textiles that change color to garments that clean themselves.  They are even working on a fabric that turns you invisible.  


It sounds like something out of a science fiction film, but invisible fabric is just one possible innovation in a field of study intent on transforming how we dress.  Encompassing everything from computer coding to biological sciences, wearable technology is definitely going to change how we approach fashion.  Now, if they can just figure out how to make Instagram filters for real life.  Seriously, I'm down.

Personally, I am trying to focus on a more sustainable, less disposable approach to fashion.  I have embraced the concept of slow fashion and I have tried for years to curate items for a more conscious closet.  Fashion, as it now exists, is extremely wasteful, exploitative and damaging to the environment.  I like the possibility of technology making this industry better, and offering a few scientific solutions to the high cost of great style.

Check out the video at the top of this post for a few predictions on the future of wearable tech.  Below, fashion tech lab Studio XO discusses bringing couture to life through new technology.

Studio Xo discusses the future of smart textiles for everyone from Lady Gaga to you.

Are you as thrilled about this as I am?  Wearable technology is exciting for fashion not only in terms of artistic exploration and design, but also as a possible way toward cleaner, more sustainable processes in textile production and garment manufacturing.  Or maybe I'm just being overly optimistic.  Maybe we're about to be overtaken by our robot clothing overlords.  If so, I just hope they'll live up to the promise of cleaning themselves.  

Below, Danielle Wilde of Centre for Smart Materials and Performance Textiles at RMIT University discusses some of wearable tech's possibilities.

Investigating how scientists and designers can collaborate to create clothing.

If you have 45 minutes, check out the documentary The Next Black, a Film About the Future of Clothing in its entirety below.  

Take a look at what some of the most innovative companies are doing for future fashion.

I first heard about wearable technology from a fascinating, somewhat science-nerdy book called Make Wearable Electronics: Design, Prototype and Wear Your Own Interactive Garments.

The book is intended for people with an interest in computing who want to create interfaces or systems that live on the body.  Don't worry, this isn't a book about the inevitable invasion of body snatchers, it's an introduction to the tools, materials and techniques for creating interactive electronic circuits and embedding them in clothing and other wearable items.

I'm waiting for the dress that can make me look like Scarlett Johansson.  Are you listening, scientists?

Video by Innovate UK, Crane TV, Conversation EDU and AEG

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