At Fashion Camp LA, a few weeks back, I was presented with a variety of mind blowing technologies in the fashion world. Most impressively was the idea of fashion as technology in itself presented in a discussion hosted by Syuzi Pakhchyan of Fashioning Technology.
Syuzi discussed, amongst other things, 3D Printing, an additive manufacturing technology in which three dimensional objects are created by successive layers of material. The sheer idea of being able to design something (you would use a CAD program) and then 'print at home' is amazing - and the possibilities seem endless. There are various materials and manners in which this process works (which this Wikipedia article explains more thoroughly) but generally you'd be looking at items made from polymers and resins. The most amazing thing is the technology for this is affordable for small businesses with printers starting at around the 4K mark.
This is something I would love to try out someday, and if anyone is willing to let me try a hands on experiment with one of these machines I'd be endlessly grateful! The photo above features shoes made with a 3D printer from Dutch designer, Pauline Van Dongen, who created the line in collaboration with Freedom of Creation as part of her Master's Thesis. They're truly beautiful and such an innovative and exciting new direction for fashion.
The equally impressive technology (amongst so many!) that was discussed was the LilyPad Arduino (pictured at the very top of this article). The LilyPad Arduino is a microcontroller board designed for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.
What this effectively means is that this little, washable (they recommend hand-washing) board that you can sew right into your clothes can control your clothes. You can purchase your own here for $21.95 along with many accesories (including conductive thread and fabric) to make your project, literally, come to life. The software is downloadable and the forums on their site, extremely helpful. There are a plethora of tutorials on the web to make your clothing interactive using the Lilypad Arduino, I'm not sure of the ease of any of the projects, I haven't tried them, but if you're feeling particularly technological I'd love to see what you come up with. Leah Buechley has the best selection right here.
There are some fantastic examples of it's use out there, Syuzi introduced us to some such as the 'Climate Dress' pictured above, designed by Diffus. The LED lights react to the CO2 in the atmosphere (using a CO2 sensor and the Lilypad Arduino) and pulse ranging from slow to hectic. The tiny LED lights (there are over 100) are embroidered onto the fabric using conductive thread giving the dress power (a whole new meaning to power dressing eh?!)
Another, quite literally, breath-taking dress is the 'Walking City' dress by Ying Gao. The dress is controlled with pneumatic pistons and pumps cleverly positioned into the clothing. The dresses are kinetic and are controlled by motion. You can see the dress in action in the video above.
To read more about Fashion as Technology I really recommend visiting Syuzi Pakhchyan's site, Fashioning Technology.
By Kelsi Smith.