In this digital age we are constantly surrounded by technological innovations. However, only a select few in the wearable fashion industry have ventured into these modern times. Although outnumbered, wearable technology has set itself apart from its traditional counterparts thanks to a pioneering community of daring, fresh designers eager to give fashion its modern lust. Here we explore the limitless possibilities of technology on fashion design and its positively groundbreaking implications on our future.

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Pauline van Dongen | Wearable Solar | 2013

Pauline van Dongen’s intrepid projects with solar power and LED light represents a pragmatic and energy efficient way forward for wearable garments. Stressing the aim for technological garments to become more synthesised with everyday fashion, wearable technology is still admittedly in its transitional period of experimentation and improvement.

PvanDongenWearableSolar1315Pauline van Dongen | Coat & Dress | Wearable Solar 2013

Van Dongen’s Wearable Solar 2013 and 2015 collections were a refreshing showcase of multidisciplinary collaborations with Christiaan Holland and solar energy expert Gert Jan Jongerden. The Coat and Dress from their 2013 collection are wool and leather prototypes that integrate between 48 and 72 flexible and rigid solar panels within flaps that can be folded out to be used. This modular element allows for a seamless and portable design, one that maximises the efficiency of wearable surfaces. PvanDongenSolarshirtRunningjacket

Pauline van Dongen | Phototrope 2015 | Wearable Solar Shirt 2015

The Wearable Solar 2015 collection features a shirt that improves on its predecessors’ functionality. With 120 thin film solar cells aesthetically arranged into one piece of double-knit fabric, the shirt combines simplistic elegance with practicality. After two hours of charge in the sun, all garments in the Wearable Solar collection can charge up a mobile phone to full capacity in a few hours, and is also able to charge other electronic devices such as cameras, MP3 players and GPS systems. Van Dongen’s collection leads by example of how the garment industry could improve its sustainable track record.

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Rainbow Winters | Mondrian A/W11 | Awakening of Insects 2013

Colouring up the often monochrome palette of modernity, Amy Winter’s brand Rainbow Winters offers a range of multi-sensory collections that respond to the wearer’s environment. The Mondrian collection pays homage to artists Picasso and Kandinsky, depicting 60’s style silhouettes modelling unique prints coloured with their own special inks that change colour according to sunlight and UV light. The techno-glam showpiece of the collection,  Picasso Explosion Sculpture Dress, illuminates with cubist graphic patterns in response to the beat and volume of music.

Ying Gao | (no)where (now)here Gaze-activated dresses | Video courtesy of Ying Gao

Montreal fashion designer Ying Gao embraces the idea of science meets art. Her 2013 collection Incertitudes is based heavily on the idea of uncertainty and features two sound activated kinetic garments. Embodying the hypermodern individual of today, the tessellating dressmaker pins respond to the observer’s voice, contracting and expanding in wave-like fluctuations (Design Boom, 2013).

YingGaoVoiceLightDressYing Gao | Incertitudes 2013 | Living Pod 2011

The Living Pod collection 2011 symbolises the contesting and imitative nature of today’s fashion system. Light sensors and motors in Garment A enable the dress to flexibly curl and augment its shape, activating Garment B to mimic in an exaggerated fashion with its ruffles spilling out from a vertical slit.

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Studio Roosegaarde | Intimacy Black | Intimacy 2.0 | Intimacy

Studio Roosegaarde’s Intimacy project is a vivid and sensual exploration of social interactions. Garments in both versions are sleek constructions of smart e-foils that vary in transparency depending on certain personal encounters. The Intimacy Black and White couture dresses react to proximity between the viewer and wearer, becoming more transparent when two individuals are closer together.

Studio Roosegaarde | Intimacy 2.0 | Video courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Intimacy 2.0 detects the arousal of the wearer to determine the level of transparency, becoming more transparent when the wearer’s heartbeat increases. Creator Daan Roosegaarde’s Intimacy collection is one of continuity, with future versions being developed to respond to other social and personal cues to create a “sensual display of disclosure”. (Roosegaarde, 2012)

Written by Alice Pearce

Edited by Christina Wright

References

Daan Roosegaarde, Studio Roosegaarde (2012) Intimacy. Available at:  https://www.studioroosegaarde.net/uploads/files/2012/04/12/107/Factsheet%20INTIMACY%202.0-%20Studio%20Roosegaarde.pdf (Accessed 7th April, 2016)

Nina Azzarello, Design Boom (2013) Ying Gao’s Sound Activated Kinetic Garments: Incertitudes. Available at: http://www.designboom.com/design/ying-gaos-sound-activated-kinetic-garments-incertitudes/ (Accessed 7th April, 2016)