s a millennial, and even more so as an engineer, I have a passion for technology. Some people are quite perplexed when I explain to them that I study engineering, but ultimately want to end up in fashion. Traditionally, this might seem a bit absurd. However, with the evolution of wearables over the recent years and more recently the appearance of fashion-tech at various fashion weeks, the idea of combining engineering and fashion is becoming more plausible. I hope that by sharing what I see as some of the most exciting applications of technology in fashion right now, you can begin to appreciate a movement that may soon become mainstream.
For most people, when I mention Intel they would probably just think about computers. Intel has recently bucked this notion with their unexpected appearances at various Fashion Week shows. The company is looking to combine engineering and fashion in ways other than your typical wrist wearables. I was blown away by Intel’s showing at last year’s New York Fashion week where they installed a microcomputer in a dress with the ability to detect adrenaline levels. The back of the dress is 3D printed carbon fiber meant to mimic wings. Based on certain bodily signals from the wearer, these “wings” will expand or contract in response. Clothing has always been a way for me to express emotion. Once your outfit is on for the day, is that supposed to capture everything you feel throughout the next 24 hours? I’m blown away by this technology and what it could mean for how we interact with clothing in the coming years.
Intel similarly brought out some stunts this year at Paris Fashion Week. Just two days ago, Hussein Chalayan and Intel placed sunglasses on five models that tracked certain biometrics of the models. A 3D printed belt with a miniscule projector then produced images of the models’ stress levels on the wall as they proceeded down the catwalk. While not incredibly useful for the average consumer at this moment in time, this could be a preview for the type of information we could potentially use to help improve our lives.
While the previous examples both focus on the breakthroughs associated with physical clothing, there is also something to be said for how technology is changing the viewing experience of fashion. At New York Fashion Week, virtual reality cameras were used to allow viewers across the globe to experience front row action of the shows and feel like they were right there. This experience is turning what was formerly an invite-only event into something that is accessible to the mass market of passionate fashion minds who would otherwise not have the opportunity to see this event live, and up-close.
These advances are incredibly exciting for someone like me, and I feel many reading this piece may feel the same. For years now, I have found much of the wearable market to be less focused on the stylistic aspects surrounding their pieces. With the emergence of these ideas at Fashion Week, hopefully we will begin to see a shift towards style conscious, yet still technologically revolutionary wearables.
Images courtesy of: iQ Intel, nymag.com, The New York Times, iQ Intel