It’s the fun spirit of silly string with the sophistication of a spider web-weaving silk. Liquid fabric came about via Spanish fashion designer Dr Manel Torres’ desire to shorten the design process in garment creation. From the idea concept stage, to sourcing fabrics, creating patterns, doing fittings until you have the completed dress; it’s going to take more than a minute. And the more technical the dress, the more time-consuming. After having to learn English and two years of Masters at the Imperial College in London, he founded the British company – Fabrican – in 2003.
Now, as fashion leaders are starting to look at catering to the individual, rather than mass production, this non-woven fabric that fits each body perfectly seems like the MVP (Most Valuable Player) on the scene. As their website explains, “[it] has developed a way to bond and liquefy fibres so that textiles can be sprayed out of a can or spray gun straight onto a body or dress form.
The solvent then evaporates, and the fibres bond, forming a snug-fitting garment.” And if you think this aerosol can contents would be rather limiting on the creative front, think again. The properties can be tailored to the needs of the client, to include colours, scents and intricate patterns, as well as take into consideration the client’s fibre choices. “[With] our prototypes we have been able to use different types of fibres from natural to synthetic, including keratin fibres such as wool and mohair, cotton, nylon, cellulose, and carbon nanofibers.”
Another interesting aspect about this non-woven material is that it could open up possibilities when it comes to “binding, lining, repairing, layering, covering and moulding in ways previously not imaginable.” So much so that they believe it can also be incorporated in the interior design sector especially in upholstery and in household wallcovering. He may have set out just to reduce time spent at the drawing board, but his discovery has the capability to:
- Speed up the traditional way of constructing garments
- Repairing and recycling ageing clothes
- Drawing with fibres
- 3D sketch tool
- Create seamless garments
- General binding, lining, repairing, covering and moulding
Also, as a side note, he mentioned that it could be used to elongate clothes such as t-shirts and dresses which, I think I speak for every woman here, I would buy in a heartbeat. Especially on the days when the clothes just won’t behave and stay down!!
And from the video, there is quite a bit that this fabric could accomplish. They are not just aiming for the fabric to contribute to the fashion and design industry, but also the automotive, medical and environmental industry too. Think about chairs for the interior of the car, or casts for broken hands in a matter of minutes and medical patches with medicine with Nano-tech embedded into its structure. Not to mention, saving the turtles and dolphins from the ghastly oil spills. Why we’re not majorly bankrolling this idea to get it to a can near everyone, I don’t know.
There are a few lessons to draw from Dr Torres’ journey thus far. For starters, designers need not seek inspiration from just the conventional arenas. Who would have ever thought silly string could have inspired such a great idea? Then there’s that corporate buzzword; synergy. With where fashion wants to go and what it wants to achieve, interdisciplinary research is the key to success. In this case, he reached out to the worlds of engineering, material science and design and brought them together. Will he eventually create a booth- sort of like the tanning kind but less Jerseylicious with the result?
What we know is that this has been a labour of love, having conceived the idea in the 1990s that only got people talking in 2013. Which also brings up the question of how committed are you to seeing your design plan through? As you ponder these questions, we leave you with his Moscow Design Week 2011 – Instant flowers showcase: