Our culture has changed dramatically with the infusion of technology into every aspect of our lives. Historically, fashion was shaped by the availability of new textiles, social revolution and ever shrinking borders. We are now seeing the most radical innovations in custom apparel coming from digital enhancements. Fashion has now become interactive like so many facets of our world. We mostly think of wearable technology in terms of the offerings by Google and Apple, but it goes well beyond that.
CuteCircuit is one of the pioneers in fashionable, technology inspired garments. Their projects include the Hug Shirt, which is a t-shirt that mimics the actual feel of a hug controlled by someone else via Bluetooth and sensor. Our favorite though is the TshirtOS, this shirt literally allows one to wear their heart upon their sleeve as the t-shirt displays images, text and plays music via programming from an iOS app.
Other fashionable trailblazers are creating custom apparel that ranges from practical to the surreal. Umbilical Sport features a motorcycle jacket and vest that holds a lighting system operated by L.E.D. The system can be customized to include the rider’s graphics or pictures of choice and remains lit to enhance the visibility of the motorcyclist.
The Climate Dress by Diffus offers an intelligent garment which uses embroidery thread that functions as an electric conveyor sensing CO2. The levels of CO2 impact the embroidery so that varying light patterns emerge. It has an aesthetic appeal but also makes an environmental statement.
The Moto 360 smartwatch hearkens back to Swatches which were popular in the 1980’s. However instead of switching out the watchband to create a new look, the buyer customizes the look of the watch on the manufacture’s website. The buyer is empowered to make independant design decisions and the watch is offered at a much lower price than Apple. And yes, it includes all of the bells and whistles a smart watch has to offer.
The exploration of fashion and technology will continue to evolve as our society expects interactive functions in everyday life. While most price points for these innovations currently deter mass production, we’ll likely see a shift as we did with manufactures of cell phones, computers and software as competition increases.