Question: what part of the business world changes every six months, brings great competition in its industry and sets trends that masses follow?
If you answered – technology, you are absolutely correct! But to those of you who first thought of fashion – Congratulations, you are right too!
Unsurprisingly, these two industries are increasingly seen to cooperate more and more often, where fashion designers are partnering up with tech companies for improvements in materials creating truly breathtaking wearable fashion technology masterpieces.
Now, don’t think here of SF helmets as hats, metallic, futuristic outfits or crystal embroidery. We are talking the real fusions of technology and fashion, where designers are starting to embrace the tech possibilities and embed it into their hot couture garments. Let’s see some of the fascinating examples among them:
1. LED Dresses
LED outfits are pioneers in tech-enhanced apparel and are already well known in the fashion world. Of course, celebrities have been among the first adopters to embrace these tech-sparkling fashion trends.
A London-based technology fashion house and among the first advocates of the – literally – wearable technology industry, Cute Circuit, already have some products that marry technology and fashion.
Besides the “regular” LED dresses, popularized first by Kate Perry way back in 2010, there was a “Twitter dress”, created for singer Nicole Scherzinger in 2012 that allowed tweets with a specific hashtag to flash across the dress.
A special project is the new “Galaxy Dress”, showcasing a spectacular and mesmerizing effect embroidered with 24000 full-color pixels. It is the largest wearable display in the world and a centerpiece of the “Fast Forward: Inventing the Future” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Cute Circuit has worked on an outfit that sends remote hugs called “Hugshirt.” Then, there is a “Twirkle dress” (combining “twinkle” with “sparkle”), actually a micro-LED dress that lights up and changes color according to the movement of the wearer.
Lately, Cute Circuit is on a mission to create LED outfits that will allow customers to change designs from a selection of patterns from the company’s database.
2. The Butterfly Dress
An example of an unusual fashion-technology partnership is the collaboration of Turkish fashion brand Ezra+Tuba and Intel. They have created an amazing dress, using a luxury jacquard interwoven with metallic Lurex fibers, which comes adorned with mobile butterflies! And that is not all: when a proximity sensor embedded inside detects the presence of someone nearby, it makes the insects react, flapping slowly, then faster, as the person approaches. The butterflies can also be made to fly away, using a command sent by a smartphone, or by another mobile device, on a wi-fi network. Truly, out of this world!
3. Mood Dresses
Philips Design has worked on dresses utilizing embedded technology to show the emotions of the wearer. As a part of The SKIN probe project the apparel enables the body to use pattern and color change to interact with the surrounding environment and predict the emotional state. The result is “The Bubelle-Blushing Dress”, with a delicate bubble surrounding the fabric that interacts with the skin, illuminating in different patterns depending on who is wearing it.
SENSOREE takes a different shot with emotional concept wrapped into tech-fashion. Their wearable technology is using futuristic fabrics made from sustainable materials, where GER Mood Sweater shows emotions through sensors that read excitement levels, and then displays the readout through a palette of colors.
Or how about this – make a spectacle for the ones that look at your garments! Like dresses designed by Ying Gao, who use eye-tracking technology and move when someone is looking at them. When someone gazes at a garment for a time, tiny motors run parts of it in patterns. The dresses also glow, since they are covered in the photo-luminescent thread or featuring glow-in-the-dark threads that make up the base layer of fabric.
Technology plus fashion combined with environmental awareness is another hot trend. Smart clothing that takes care of the environment is a part of a Diffus collaboration project between architect Michel Guglielmi and Art Professor Louise Johannesen. They have two “tech-enhanced” dresses. One is “The Climate Dress”, with over one hundred LED lights woven into the embroidery, a CO2 sensor, and an Arduino Lilypad microprocessor. The LEDs visualize the level of CO2 in the nearby surroundings. Another one is “The UV Dress” that measures the amount of sun the wearer is exposed to. The dress has apertures that open or close to adjust the level of light exposure to the skin, just like a camera aperture.
Amy Winters also makes garments that respond to their environment. Like the dress made with holographic leather that reacts to sound. As volume increases, it begins to illuminate and makes what Winters describes as “visual music”. Her tech-enhanced bathing suit responds to light, with the center panel turning into purple dots in the sun.
So next time you happen to be deciding what the future of hot trends in apparel has in store for everyday consumers – it is important to remember that the future of fashion wearable technology is only limited by the imagination of the talented designers embracing the limitless possibilities ahead.