Tech Advancements in Fashion We’re Here For: Part I

self-cooling clothes

Fashion is always looking for the next big thing, so a relationship with technology isn’t so farfetched. On the contrary, innovation is welcomed and embraced in many facets of the industry. As creatures of comfort, we crave products, processes and ideas that will make our lives more convenient, as well as solution or results-oriented. Advancements look at improving business operations, the relationships brands have with their consumers, the consumer’s experience and how they interact with their environments.

Retailers and brands can respond to new market demands, and the result doesn’t have to be gimmicky or farfetched. It’s products like alternative materials that are easier on the environment, AI that makes life a little easier or design that solves a problem that has been plaguing consumers for years. It could even reveal to consumers and brands elements they didn’t even know they needed, until know. We’ve featured fashion tech on the blog before, from wearable tech in fashion luxury and tech in interior design to advancements reducing fashion’s water footprint and tech tools to manage your business. Nonetheless, it’s a dynamic field that continuously improves and updates itself. What other gems are out there?

MINOIS charging handbag
[Image: MINOIS]

The Charging Handbag

Women’s handbags tend to be magical. Everything she needs to get through the day somehow fit into that stylish contraption. A lady’s always prepared! But a lady would also like to find the thing she’s looking for without having to turn her bag upside down, expelling all the contents out. Minois had a light bulb moment and literally put a light in the bag. Every time you have to open it, ‘a subtle soft light illuminates the interior’ and simplifies the item-hunt.

Minois handbag that charges phones and tablets
Wireless charging [Image: MINOIS]

But why stop the convenience there? Designer and founder, Simone Tertoolen, ensured that the bag could charge your phone or tablet as well. All you need is a USB cable to connect to the inbuilt battery and you can juice up your gadget in the safety of your bag. No need to beg for a charger and power source at every stop on your route. So you may be wondering how a busy woman would remember to charge the bag when she keeps forgetting to charge her phone or power bank. It’s as simple as dropping it onto the charger and leaving it overnight. According to the creators, the charge should last a week.

Bacterial-Clad Clothes That Keeps You Cool

Designed by a group of researchers at MIT, bioLogic is a Biofabric that senses and reacts to changes in humidity near the skin. The researchers created a workout suit covered with ventilating flaps that respond to the wearer’s body temperature and sweat production. These vents are able to open and close thanks to the live microbial cells that react to the humidity changes. Guided by previous studies illustrating regions of the body that produce heat and sweat, they team was able to tailor the size of each flap and the degree to which they can open.

bioLogic fabric
[Image: courtesy of MIT/ Hannah Cohen]

Now to address the elephant in the room. Does the fabric actually put living cells in fabric and in direct contact with the wearer’s skin? Not exactly. For starters, the cells may be printed onto sheets of latex but there are support frames underneath the fabric that prevents the fabric from coming into direct contact with the skin the cells are able to detect the shift in humidity in the air surrounding the skin.

Indestructible Pantyhose

Perhaps pantyhose are part of your work wear and cold-weather ensemble. Maybe they’re your go-to for that dress that may be a few inches short. Or your saviour on the day you forgot to shave your legs. No matter the reason, women still use pantyhose despite the infuriating rate at which they rip and run. Why do we have clear nail polish in our bags you ask? Thank these tights! And if you have to use public transportation, your chances of a snag goes up exponentially. Sheertex Sheers, formerly known as Sheerly Genius, heard the universal struggle and created pantyhose that they claim is ‘10 times stronger than steel’.

[Image: Sheerly Genius]
Sheerly Genius
[Image: Courtesy of Sheertex]

Visibly, they look like any other tights. But they’re made using their proprietary Sheertex™ yarn which has components of ballistic products such as the bulletproof vests. With regular use, you should get up to 50 wears out of these sturdy tights. Additionally, the team claims that the material is moisture, stain and odour resistant. Ranging from sizes S to XXL, upcoming batches should have a control top, invisible waistbands and reinforced seams. These pantyhose may not be literally bulletproof, but they sure are life-proof.

Hand Gesture Recognition Sensor

Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group has been working on a radar system that can detect hand gestures on a sub-millimetre level. Dubbed the Soli Sensor, it’s able to register a series of motions such as a virtual button or slider. For efficiency purposes the sensor is a tiny chip that has no moving parts, works on little energy and thrives no matter the lighting conditions. The aim is to eventually implement it other devices such as cars, wearable like smart watches and phones.

Granted, Soli isn’t a new project. It was first announced in 2015 and Google ATAP hasn’t brought other projects to fruition. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in America recently approved the use of the sensor in the 57- to 64-GHz frequency band. Proof, that the Soli Project isn’t dead. Having a chip like Soli could mean more freedom when it comes to design and sizing. Moreover, it could make products more inclusive, as it would assist uses with limited mobility.

The Trend-Predicting AI

Founded in 2013 by Tony Pinville and Charles Ollion, Heuritech is a platform that uses visual recognition technology to anticipate customer expectation. By analysing millions of images shared online daily, they are able to advise their clients on how to produce better across the board; from the product and merchandising to marketing and sales departments. According to the Business of Fashion (BoF)-McKinsey annual survey 2018, determining demand projection using AI could ‘reduce forecasting errors by up to 50%.’  Heuritech believes that brands can take Intel like this and ‘optimize product assortment, ensure the relevance of timing & product offer for future launches, improve the accuracy of sales forecasts & demand planning, as well as, understand who your clients are and how they style your products to create relevant stories.’

Determining demand projection using AI could reduce forecasting errors by up to 50%.

Business of Fashion (BoF)-McKinsey annual survey 2018

For example, one of their clients relied on their algorithm to determine how much they should invest in plaid coats. Having being in vogue the previous year, they client wanted to know if the plaid trend was still in demand. Through the research they were able to determine that plaid was in decline and thus decreased their quantities and avoided overstocking. While most of their case studies do not disclose the name of the client, for privacy reasons, they do confirm that Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior were their first customers. The luxury fashion houses used the platform for ‘product development and merchandise planning.’ By 2016, Heuritech’s team had grown to incorporate both tech and fashion professionals to best interpret the AI’s findings.

There were so many interesting concepts and creations that we possibly couldn’t fit them all in one post. Make sure you subscribe to get that all-important notification, which will let you know when we share part II on the blog.

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