For the next two months, September to October, we take a look into how technology plays into the fashion and design world and how we can take part of it.
It is known that technology has literally changed our lives in every facet possible. I recall reading this article not too long ago: “Technology is going to turn the entire fashion industry inside out” and taking note of the digital revolution in fashion which they said it would present the biggest challenge. The question they asked was “[h]ow will an industry where value is communicated by exclusivity and craft cope with this new space?”
Technology has also, in my opinion, not only posed the biggest challenge but also the greatest opportunity. With technology, we have produced wearable tech, art fusing with design through tech-based systems and operations, improved functionality and efficiency and even perhaps less waste from fast fashion.
With fast fashion being infamous for the pollution caused and unethical practices therein, new technologies have unfortunately provided companies with means to produce faster increasing the carbon footprint during production including farming, manufacturing, processing, shipping and the refuse thereafter. Of course, the global industry has shifted to rectify these past injurious practices by, for example, using organic textiles, reducing water and carbon waste and communicating to customers ‘who made your clothes’ for accountability. (see Campaign here). The social and economic impact of fashion is a whole other discussion, so lets get back to technology.
It should be noted however that despite technology contributing, in part, to the above issues, technology might just be the solution to them. We all know up cycling, turning old-clothes into fresh, new, re-invented high-end garments or bags. What I am about to tell you is not the same, its far cooler and all thanks to technology.
Seattle-based startup Evrnu worked with Levi’s in using a new fabric recycling technology by dissolving old used clothing into new, high-quality thread, which was then used to make a new pair of world-renowned Levi’s jeans. By doing this, they dissolved the old material down to their molecular structure of cellulose and reconstructed the fiber, without pollutants, to make a new fabric with improved strength quality. Recyclable jeans? Thank you technology. With this new process, it could essentially reduce the water intensive cotton growing process, alleviate recycling woes and reduce global pollution.
From technology contributing to conservation and greener production efficiency, we cannot discuss this topic without looking into the fusion of tech in fashion and design for art sake, for functionality and work efficiency. The first thing that probably popped into your mind is the Apple iWatch that went from phone accessory to must-have luxury fashion accessory, which was launched at Paris Fashion Week in 2014. We also have the Diane von Furstenberg ‘Made for Glass’ collaboration with Google glass in 2014 where she stated “[t]technology is your best accessory.” The fusion of functionality and art cannot be understated and with new ideas and evolution in fashion, some creations are just down right awesome!
Wearable technology is an innovative field and a broad concept. From smart watches to fitness trackers, the possibilities are endless. Despite the low uptake of wearable technology, there is no doubt that these will sooner rather than later become as ever-present as tablets. We also have the use of wearable technology for tracking athlete performance and recording data on improvements that were more strenuous and time consuming before. Athlete analytics tracking devices were seen during the Rio 2016 Olympic games from Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Lebron James sporting a black bracelet from ‘Whoop’ tracking the athletes’ heart rate, steps, body strain, recovery, and sleep.
“It’s important that it isn’t just gimmicky but actually useful.” Natalie Massanet, Founder of Net-a-Porter
From wearable tech to fashion infused or created by technology, let’s take a look at the 3-D printed dress for burlesque dancer Dita von Teese designed by Micheal Schmidt and generated by Bitonti in March 2013. “The floor-length nylon gown was made using selective laser sintering (SLS), where material is built up in layers from plastic powder fused together with a laser.” Draped over a nude silk corset, embellished with 12,000 Swarovski crystals and with the net structure allowing for movement, this black lacquered dress is simply remarkable. Mr Schmidt noted that “[i]t all comes down to mathematics, beauty realized through mathematics.” What is key here is the fact that no tailor, thread, cotton or farm was involved in this dress.
“My work very much comes from abstract ideas and using new techniques, not the reinvention of old ideas,” commented Dutch Designer architect turned fashion designer, Iris van Herpen. “I believe it will only be a matter of time before we see the clothing we wear today produced with [3-D printing].” At Paris Fashion Week Spring Summer 2013, she introduced 11 new garments designed and produced using emerging technologies including two 3-D printed dresses and a gown created with laser sintering.
There is no doubt that technology companies have long collaborated in the fashion and design world from fashion films to collaborating with fashion designers and bloggers. Remember the Amaze Africa Samsung initiative? This is where they paired 7 accessories designers (including Rift Valley Leather) with 7 fashion designers from across the continent to create unique artistic collaborations and to start a cross-continent conversation about a new African design aesthetic.
What we also want to delve into in the coming two months are the technologies that we can integrate as professionals in the fashion and design world that will enhance, improve collaboration, increase efficiency and facilitate processes in Kenya and on the continent.
This will be an exciting two months and we cannot wait to share with you what is changing our world and how we can be part of that technology revolution.
Author: Wanjiku N. M | Editor and Founder of TDS | Twitter: @WanjikuNM