Nov 172014

Post by: Nilufer Arsala

undercover colors

Photo credit:

“Undercover Colors” is a brand of nail polish that was developed by four North Carolina State University undergrads. According to the Washington Post  the brand’s premise is nail polish that changes color when it detects date rape drugs, mainly Rohypnol, Xanax and GHB. The product isn’t on the market yet and there doesn’t seem to be any word on a release date for sale to the public. The company’s website shows a logo and slogan along with links to Undercover Colors’ social media pages, email and research donation fund.  A quick look at Undercover Colors’ Facebook page reveals a bit more of the happenings behind the scenes, with reference to the product in the research and development phase.

“Thank you for your interest in our company! At this point, we are early in the development of our product and we do not have any photos of the nail polish. However, we were planning on doing a media push in the not-too-distant future, once we have a demonstrable prototype." - Undercover Colors Representative Mock up and quote from: SlashGear- 8/22/2014

“Thank you for your interest in our company! At this point, we are early in the development of our product and we do not have any photos of the nail polish. However, we were planning on doing a media push in the not-too-distant future, once we have a demonstrable prototype.” – Undercover Colors Representative
Mock up and quote from: SlashGear- 8/22/2014

Since the product is still in research and development, there’s little information at the time of this posting about some aspects of the polish. What colors the polish will come in and how much it will cost don’t seem to be addressed by the company, suggesting Undercover Colors hasn’t progressed that far. Some controversy also surrounds this product.

Undercover Colors’ slogan , located on the company’s website is “The First Fashion Company Empowering Women to Prevent Sexual Assault.” In a way, the company does that. By swirling a polished fingernail in her glass, a woman can tell if her drink contains drugs commonly used by perpetrators of date rape. It has been pointed out that this product actually adds to rape culture by placing responsibility back on the woman to keep herself safe, as opposed to teaching men not to rape.  Also, the polish only reacts when coming into contact with certain drugs. The limited number of drug reactions could give women a false sense of security when screening drinks.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

As a fashion accessory, this nail polish does what normal polish does. It adds to someone’s personal definition of “cool” as discussed in Luke Russell’s Effortless Cool. As a safety mechanism Undercover Colors seems to fall short. It is a daunting task to toe-the-line between perpetuating rape culture and trying to help women protect themselves from violence. The male college students that created this product could use a bit more education on the topic of date rape. Overall they seem to forget that date rape doesn’t just happen at bars or under the effects of drugs.


Mar 132014

One of my greatest desire is to combine my love of fashion and eco consciousness to help provide awareness and even solutions to maintain our planet. One of my obstacles, I have experienced and witnessed are the price tags on some of the wonderful “green” products that are in the market, today.

What I have observed in fashion is that due to use of the technology included to provide such an eco-friendly product, it has an effect on its cost. Many would spend $150.00 and up on a certain brand of Jeans or purse, but for me, in this particular season of my life,  that would be impractical.  I mean I am on the level to where my purchasing decisions have to do with purchasing between a package of paper plates from a dollar store or the cheapest biodegradable paper plates I have found, which are $2.50 by the way.

Because I know a little about  of what it entails to manufacture a RTW garment, I do have some reservations when it comes to purchasing some fashion items. I know that for a while “Green” has been the new Black in the fashion world.  With the immersion of fashion tech, I can see how eco-friendly may even become more for the chic.  I hope not.I anticipate to see green living accessible to anyone who  choses to live this particular lifestyle one day. So I try to live on my own convictions by reusing, recycling, and repurposing. I sometimes find myself buying sale and clearance items that aren’t previously used as well.  So enough of my soap box.

Here are some amazing and innovative products that are fashionably high tech green, that given the opportunity, I might even have to purchase a few to add to my “vintage” closet.

DVF solar purse

DVF solar purse

The lovely Diane Von Furstenberg and some her designer friends such  as Tommy Hilfiger join forces to create  purses with integrated solar powered panels for The Portable Light Project provide by Elle.  Her design generates clean renewable energy through a small solar panel on the side of the purse. The energy is stored in a small battery used to power a USB port for mobile devices and a light as well.

CO2 Dress

CO2 Dress


A dress by Diffus that can read high levels of CO2. The dress has LED sewn onto the fabric that creates flickering patterns when CO2 levels are high and low.

ph dress

Rain Palette Dress



Dahea Sun’s Rain Palette dress changes color to show ph levels in the rain. This helps indicate air quality. The dye on the dress is natural which reacts to the ph levels of rainwater.




Two students at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design created a raincoat that will also give you water to drink. Raincatch captures rainwater then through a series of chemical filters and charcoal the rainwater is converted into drinkable water.


Flutter dress

Flutter dress



The Flutter Dress created to help the hearing impaired.  The dress was Created by Halley Profita, Nicholas Farrow, and Professor Nikolaus Correll at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It gives  vibrations  in the direction of a loud sound within its external environment to help those with hearing loss.


I am not a Virgin

I am not a Virgin

Sexy jeans made from Beer bottles by I am Not a Virgin Founded by Peter Heron. At the moment their prototype consists of 25 percent bottle fiber and 75 percent cotton. They have used scraps from garment manufacturer companies to make their jeans and now have added the synthetic component of beer bottles.  The idea was inspired by the transformation bamboo into thread. The bottles are crushed into fine particulate, melted and then extruded into fiber. The company also has a line of T-shirts made from food trays, water bottles and other materials that are hard to breakdown in the environment. The company is still in its development. They are projecting to be on the market soon.

For many other innovations in Green tech fashionable garments click here.


  • DVF solar purse:
  • CO2 Dress:
  • Rain Palette Dress:
  • Raincatch:
  • Flutter Dress:
  • I am not a virgin Jeans:




Mar 112014

Kanye West

One of the exciting aims I can think of for this rising of  fusion of technology and fashion is the social solutions it can provide to world. Recently one of hip-hop’s fashion Icons, Kanye West became a topic of many conversations due to his wearing of masks during his Yeezus tour.  The masks were designed by Maison Martin Margiela. The masks made their way to the couture runway in the fall of 2013. I was attracted to the idea of wearing a mask as a form of expression through apparel after the current topic. Throughout history, I believe the “Bourgeoisie” has played with this idea of concealed identity especially within in a taboo setting, so therefore I can understand how this form of expression can make it to the world of couture. The wearing of masks can be interpreted in so many ways, but what if the reason for wearing masks became more of a necessity rather than an expression?



In China, the air pollution has become so horrific that “when air is so bad, people who don’t wear masks are like ET”, as expressed in the South China Morning Post. In Fashion-forward face masks a big hit in China amid soaring air pollution, Wu  Nan expressed the uprising of face masks as an effect to  protect China’s citizens from the air pollution. What was interesting to me  is that the article was posted under the Health section in the SCMP. The use of face masks have become so common that there has been a fashion dynamic added to this necessity. As with anything, the fashion market has found its way to establish its presence amongst consumers.





It would just be natural that enthusiastic fashion technologists would embark on this challenge.  In My Health Beijing, an article was written in comparing two air pollution face masks. . In Respro Vs. Totobobo: Which Mask Works Better For Air Pollution?  Dr. Richard  described details about Respro masks.  It contains filters for any urban pollution. The mask like others in the market helps to clean air while you breathe. Aesthetically, like its challengers,  it has an industrial but a slight sleekness to its appearance.




In more recent articles, such as AirWaves :Face Mask Filters Pollution, Crowdsources  Air-Quality Data in  ecouterre , a prototype of a new air pollution mask is featured. Author, Bridgette Meinhold, mentioned that the company Frog Design which one of its focuses is on the future of wearable technology, has created a mask that will help improve data monitoring. The Airwaves is a smart device that will monitor air quality in real time and then share its data to everyone who would have its mobile app. This would serve as a security to people from harmful environments while data collecting for the country. The appearance of the device is a bit more conspicuous on the technological aspect but it comes with the added equipment. I think this maybe one of the areas   Frog Design  may try to change within their product design given that the other masks on the market are not as bulky but with the added resource consumers might be a little more forgiving.


3M mask

The exciting part of this innovative piece of garment is that its original development was made for the intent to help people breathe in China.  It then progressed to a more technical advance device with added filters. What is a  little alarming is how it is becoming another “smart” device. It makes me wonder who is so data driven and how much will this device cost. In this scenario, a social problem was presented, to where its effects were dangerous to all partakers of society.  As a result of this problem a common wearable product, such as a face mask was in use and then turned to a fashion garment. As a natural effect in consumerism, the switch to a variety of choices of masks was not unusual in today’s market. The need to produce filters is also, I believe a logical step forward, but with the added equipment the cost of the product has increased. So now, I see a division of accessibility. For the general population there is a mask provided and for the ones with a little more disposable income there is also a product for them to use. Now with the use of smartphones, another product has been designed to suit consumers with the possession of smart devices which may have a different income than that of  the first face masks’ consumers. The price of a generic face mask provided by 3M is $12.71 Box/20 to compare to a filtered mask such as the Respro  for $59.95 plus the cost of filters $29.95 for two and that is just for a certain kind of air pollution. You would have to buy more for each environment.

Given the knowledge of China’s economic structure , it would appear that the filtered masks will not be used by everyone, but doesn’t everyone have the right to breathe the same quality of air? Now with this new smart device in progress, it brings about another question, doesn’t everyone have the right to know where the hazardous air pollution is located in their own country? I mean what if a person cannot afford a smart phone, how would that individual be informed? Maybe my thinking is a bit extreme because of with the prices of smartphones today, everyone should have one…right? But we are talking about China not America, a totally different economic situation…right? Who really gets to enjoy this new innovative fusion of fashion and technology?


  • Kanye West:
  • Masks:
  • Respero:
  • Totobobo:
  • Airwaves:
  • 3M mask:




Dec 192013

If you are in class, teaching a class, or in a business meeting, everyone has had the awkward experience off their phone going off at the wrong times.  My project doesn’t make people think about what’s changing or trending.  It adds the affordance of having another option to receiving a text or phone call other than ring tone, vibrate, or silent.  A simple pattern would light up if are getting a phone call and flashing light if have received a text.  You could also remove the board and light and place into a different sleeve allowing a person to choose what design they want to wear on any given day.

My project idea was very simple.  I wanted to make a wrist cuff that would light up a certain way based on if you received a text or getting a call.  However, getting this simple idea to work was not easy at all.  My first problem began with an incompatible board.  I did not realize it incompatible until after I spent several hours, with the help of Harrison, soldering the pins to the Bluetooth module thinking that was the problem.  Once I got that out of the way I was given a loner board and battery source.  Because of the new components, my idea of it being switchable sleeves was gone.  The new component made the wrist cuff bulky.  After finally being able to connect to the Bluetooth, I ran into the problem of not finding any program that would allow the arduino and android talk to each other.  I went through dozen of programs.  Some had the features I needed to get the task done but it didn’t have the option to talk over Bluetooth.  Other were only able to connect to the Bluetooth and that was about it.  I even tried to go a roundabout way by having one program perform the task I needed to get done.  Then try writing a code that would turn on the lights when the Bluetooth was on.  Which didn’t work because either I didn’t write the correct code(which is possible) or pins for the Bluetooth don’t work like the switch or button.  I was given the option to try to write a program for the android but there was no way to learn to write the code in a short amount of time (having four other finals to complete took priority).

After giving up knowing  I would not be able to make the arduino and android talk to each other I moved on to just sewing the parts together.  Because this wrist cuff was bigger I didn’t have to cut certain size pieces of cloth.  I decided to use the folds that were already there so all I do was measure how much cloth I needed and cut off the rest.  Then I sewed the lights and board into the interfacing, which I then stuck into the sleeve.  Because of the different power source, I had to sew that to the outside of the wrist cuff.  But because the positive and negative were to far spaced out from the board and power source i was unable sew the conducive thread corrected.  Instead i just used the clips to provide power.  Since the wrist cuff formed to my wrist the components with the interfacing did not slide around.

I did not want leave the wrist cuff unsatisfactory so I decided to upload a simple code so the lights turn on.  So what I thought was a good idea fell short leaving me with the same thing we did in the first project.  What I’ve learned from this is that what might seem like simple idea in your head could be a strenuous feat to try to actually accomplish with technology.

May 122012

The Superman "S" Logo. Image credit:

The concept of the cyborg or techno-fashion is not a new one to Fashioning Circuits. Fashion that has the ability to extend the capabilities of the human body is a topic that I, for one, find particularly fascinating. It may surprise the FC reader, howeve,r to learn that there also exists another perhaps lower tech but no less integral component to techno-fashion, that is fashion that can compensate for physical deficiencies. Recent developments in the nascent techno-fashion industry have seen the proliferation of brands producing garments to not only enhance the human body but indeed to improve the quality of life for individuals afflicted with various physical deficiencies and impairments. Let’s take a look at some particularly inspiring innovators in this techno-fashion space.

The GPS Shoe for Tracking Alzheimers Patients

GPS Shoe

In 2011 US based GTX Corp introduced the GPS shoe, a walking shoe with a miniature GPS tracking device embedded in the heel. The inspiration for the shoe was originally spurred by a particularly tragic and high profile missing persons case in involving  the disappearance of a young child. In fact GTX CEO Patrick Bertagna originally created the shoe as a means of tracking missing children.  It wasn’t long, however, before Bertagna became aware of  an even greater need for the shoe among adult caregivers of Alheimer’s sufferers to be able to non intrusively track the movements of their patients.

GPS tracking devices for Alzheimers’s patients were not in and of themselves a new idea, even in 2011. However, prior to the GPS Shoe it was not uncommon for  Alzheimer’s sufferers to reject the devices out of fear or confusion.  The GPS Shoe provides the caregiver with a means to monitor their charges via smartphone or computer with an interactive map. The caregiver can even establish “safe zones” whereby they will be immediately notified with a text message if the patient wanders outside of a pre-established geographical perimeter.

The GPS Shoe does present some real privacy concerns as the design of the device is deliberately intended to be undetectable by the wearer. I do wonder at the potential ease of abuse of the shoe by those who seek to monitor non Alheimer’s sufferers for purely selfish and possibly dangerous reasons. However, the safety of Alzheimers sufferers as well as the peace of mind afforded their caregivers just may outweigh its’ potential threats to privacy.

Hickies: Elastic Shoelaces for Arthritis Sufferers


Hickies are an elastic shoelace replacement system that completely eliminate the need for tying shoelaces. The rubber devices feature a hook and loop fastening system intended to be fed through the eyelets of laced shoes in place of traditional shoelaces, one device per row of eyelets. Hickies, which come in one size and a rainbow of colors, are designed to replace traditional shoelaces in any type of shoe or boot. Aesthetically, Hickies can be used to customize any heretofore laceable footwear and also allow for the slipping on and off of shoes without the need to tie and untie shoelaces.

Though not developed specifically with arthritis sufferers in mind the application of Hickies for arthritis patients is tremendous. The relative ease afforded Hickies wearers effectively returns independence to those who lack the dexterity and or flexibility required to tie and lace traditional laced shoes. Additionally the devices minimizes trip and fall accidents, a potentially fatal hazard for the elderly, presented by loose or untied shoelaces. This is one I am definitely excited to see.

Nano Enhanced Undergarments to Combat Body Odor

Maxi Fresh Plus

Goldwin Company, a Japan Based clothing manufacturer, has recently introduced MXP Underwear, a line of undergarments that uses nanotechnology to combat body odor. The MXP line, which is short for “Maxi Fresh Plus,”  includes mens boxer shorts and briefs. Per Goldwin, the undergarments have the ability to eliminate 99 percent of the odor caused by perspiration and 88 percent of body odors in general. Though I am a little suspicious as to exactly how those percentages were measured, if the company’s claims are true perhaps MXP represents a breakthrough for those who suffer from hyperhidrosis, a medical condition whereby sufferers perspire excessively and unpredictably.

According to the National Institutes of Health 2 to 3 percent of the population currently suffers from hyperhidrosis. Unfortunately,  less than 40 percent of sufferers seek medical treatment for the condition. Ressons for this reticence are likely numerous however it is not hard to imagine that personal embarrassment is chief among them. If the MXP line, which reportedly has been tested in the International Space Station, does even a fraction of what it claims, then perhaps hyperhydrosis sufferers at last have a private, non-medical tool at their disposal to combat a particularly isolating and demoralizing condition.


Xeni Collection: Fashionable clothing for the Wheelchair Bound

XENI Collection

Xeni Collection was launched in 2010 by Ann Oliver, a former architect whose own fight with multiple sclerosis had left her wheelchair bound. The brand designs, manufactures and retails couture garments designed specifically for the seated figure and severely disabled wearers.

Oliver recognized a significant gap in the ever evolving high fashion landscape, that of fashion designed with the disabled figure in mind. Setting out to fill that gap Oliver re-trained in fashion and textile design and developed, from concept to production including pattern design and textile development, a line of attire to both flatter and assist severely disabled wearers. Oliver’s designs feature innovations such as magnetic fastenings for customers who have difficulty manipulating buttons and zippers. The line’s garments are specifically designed for the seated figure, recognizing that this client will most often be viewed from above. This of course represents a specific shift in the designer’s aesthetic perspective, one that heretofore was unrepresented in the world of traditional high fashion, which is generally viewed from a head-on perspective.

Xeni collection represents a brilliant and particularly inspiring techno fashion solution for the disabled fashion wearer. I do hope to see more labels emulating Xeni’s knowledge and sensitivity, and designing for this severely under served segment of the market.

Downs Designs: Garments Designed for people with Down Syndrome

Downs Designs

Karen Bowersox is another designer whose personal connection to affliction inspired her to fill a heretofore invisible  gap in the ready to wear fashion landscape, that of garments designed for people with Down Syndrome. Inspired by her granddaughter, whose parents struggled daily finding garments that fit properly, Bowersox launched  Downs Designs  in 2010 to design, manufacture and retail clothing cut specfically to fit the unique body shape of wearers with Down Syndrome.

The line features simple basic pieces for adults, teens and children, designed for easy manipulation by Down’s sufferers. The line was prototyped using eight adult models with Down Syndrome. Bowersox’s design team literally created a unique sizing scheme, dubbed “Down Sizing” designed specifically to meet the unique figure needs of Down Disease sufferers.

Proper garment  fit is paramount for Down Syndrome clients and top priority in Down’s Designs design principle. Who would have ever thought that “Down Sizing” would be a good thing?

The designers and labels profiled here represent but a few of the innovators in the techno-fashion space striving the meet the unique needs of disabled fashion wearers the world over. Fashion designed to compensate for physical deficiencies is  one of the most creatively challenging market segments to succeed in. These brands are indeed ones to be inspired by.








Apr 102012

Hussein Chalayan's Laser Dress, 2008The word “cyborg” likely conjures all sorts of dystopian imagery to mind. I know when I hear it I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in a high tech costume with guns blazing, relentlessly blasting away at Sarah Conner. That’s probably the image that most folks think of actually. However is that what a real cyborg actually looks like in real life? Yes, I did write “real cyborg” and “real life.” Most people don’t realize this but there are real live cyborgs walking around every day right here in the year 2012. What’s more, they’ve been here, on this planet I mean, for as long as everyone else has and you probably even know quite a few of them. In fact, I am a cyborg myself. Continue reading »

Apr 072012

Firefly Run 2012

I ran the Firefly Run, a nighttime 5k where people dress up in illuminated clothes to run the race.  Some people (like me) simply wore glow-in-the dark accessories, but others went all out in full LED costume!

Seeing all of those illuminated outfits at varying stages of design and style got me thinking. At what point does illuminated clothing go from gimmick to costume to fashion?

Illuminated fashion is a high-tech style genre that has been around for years, but has yet to take hold in the mainstream, probably because it’s mostly  seen as impractical, and tends to fall into the “fashion of fashion’s sake” category.   And, just as with many other styles, it is very easy to get wrong.

Project Runway did an Illuminated Fashion challenge this season, and while the clothes ended up looking cool the illuminations served no function. I think FashioningTech’s post is spot on when it says that all of the designers missed the mark, and were stuck in a stereotypical mindframe. This is how most of the world sees “illuminated fashion,” and it is difficult to change paradigms and mind-frames.

Illuminated Bridesmaid Dresses from Modern Family

Illuminated fashion can be seen as an extreme or gimmicky, but can actually be found fairly easily and can look good in formal fashions. For example,  the bridesmaids and flower girl dresses in the wedding recently featured on Modern Family. In fact, you can actually custom order an illuminated wedding dress or a variety of other illuminated garments from  Enlighted.  Aside from the wedding dress, which I think turned out beautifully, although I would not have chosen yellow, Enlighted’s designs tend to fall more into the costume category, in my opinion. Part of the reason behind that, is probably their client-base, who seems to be Vegas-type shows, but I honestly think part of it is that Enlighted has been in the business for 14 years, and although on one hand, that is a good thing, meaning they have lots of experience, on the other hand, I think it is easy to get stuck in a style rut, and get stuck with one type of look.

Continue reading »