Technology and fashion are evoloving and intersecting in multiple fascinating and unexpected ways. From clothing that moves to garments that offer healing properties for the skin, techno fashion applications are literally turning the contemporary fashion aesthetic on it’s well dressed head. Below I have compiled a few examples of recent developments in the techno fashion space. From the exceedingly cool to the just plain weird, the innovations detailed below explore designers and developements on the very cutting edge of the genre.
As anyone who has ever been caught in phone menu purgatory, attempting to return wrongly sized or ill-fitting online purchases will tell you, the value of this technological innovation is significant indeed.
UpCload, a company based in Berlin, has developed technology to enable online shoppers to accurately take their own body measurements for proper sizing assessments when shopping for clothes online. The only equipment required by the shopper are a webcam and a compact disk for calibration. The tool measures such characteristics and chest circumference and arm length and then adapts those measurements to correspond with online retailers clothing sizes. Even better, shoppers can create a profile to store their measurements and use them to shop at any participating online retailer “to ensure a consistent and reliable fit.” The service is currently in beta but has plans to roll out to stores worldwide and institute social networking capabilities whereby shoppers can compare purchases among their friends. Though there may be some hidden privacy concerns here, I believe this is an excellent marriage of fashion and technology with positive implications for the digital sartorial landscape. Also, no more phone menu purgatory!
Another German company doing exciting things in the techno fashion space is Innovation and Clothing Factory. The company recently launched Twosquaremeter, an eco-chic line of knitwear featuring garments constructed from “specially developed biological yarns.” As first reported on springwise.com: “The yarns contain either seaweed fibers or milk protein fibers, both of which are thought to contain healing and nourishing properties for the skin. To produce the milk-based knitwear, natural milk is skimmed and drained before the extracted proteins are processed into fibers. Twosquaremeter claim that these fibers bind sweat and neutralize the smell, while also regulating body temperature.” Other healthful benefits of the line’s garments include clothing constructed from cotton seaweed that is purported to have skin-rejuvinating abilities. Here’s a short video showcasing the brand’s entire line.
Garments that have the ability to literally heal the wearer really represent the truly limitless potential of the techno fashion genre. Manifestations of the cyborg, whereby clothing augments human capability, have often been met with consumer circumspection. I feel this brand does much to lead the conversation in a more positive direction. Especially, considering that in addition to the healing properties of the brand’s clothing, the label has also made a commitment to ethical business practices including sustainable and environmentally sound garment production. This is surely a label for other brands to watch…and emulate.
In an irreverent take on the concept communicative fashion designer John Nussey and design student Steven Tai have developed a dress constructed from vibrating pen nibs. Literally marrying analog and digital communcations technology, the dress is constructed of 42 rows of vibrating pen nibs with each row wired with a vibrating cell phone motor. Here’s a short video of the garment in action:
The vibrating rows of nibs can be controlled, including being powered on and off, with an arduino. Hence the virating pen nib dress also possesses programming and sequencing capabilities. Of course the dress, like any good garment, is also mobile. Per Nussey in an interview for Wired UK: “The whole lot is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, so it doesn’t have to be plugged in.” With wired vibrating nibs that remarkably resemble sequins Nussey and Tai have literally expanded on the communicative capabilities of fashion in a particularly unique and creative way. Perhaps the Pen Nib dress heralds the beginning of a techno sartorial communications revolution.
The following dress turns Manovich’s media theory of transcoding on it’s head. If trasncoding is the transformation of media into compter data, what do we call it when computer data is transformed into analog media? Behold the Angry Birds Dress.
Spotted on an attendee of a gala at the Finnish Presidential Palace, the Angry Birds Dress is media in its truest sense. Indeed it communicates something about the wearer (particularly that she has an offbeat sense of humor) and our contemporary media landscape. Allow me to channel Marshall McLuhan for a moment. I believe we are witnessng here no less than an extension of man, or woman as it were, as the Angry Birds dress is an apt illustration of the extension of the digital into the realm of the physical. Hence contemporary fashionistas are in the midst of a redefining of the self – a redefining that must make room for the digital.
These are but a few of the latest developments in the genre of techno fashion. As illustrated here the field is as broad as it is wide, and the implications for these innovations are significant indeed. As fashion and technology evolve and intersect it will be interesting to witness what innovations will come next.