As Paris Fashion Week draws to a close, ending the previews of the Autumn/Winter 2016 designer collections, what better homage than to showcase the most cutting edge innovation in smart fashion and clothing? All of these ideas are visionary, but like the best ‘haute couture’ will be translated to ‘ready-to-wear’ by those with an eye to the future. Applications for all are only limited by our imagination. So, for those seeking inspiration we invite you to grab your front row seat and start taking notes!
1. Caress of the Gaze – a 3D printed shape shifting cape
Caress of the Gaze, by architect and designer Behnaz Farahi, is an interactive 3D printed animatronic garment that detects when and where the wearer is being stared at, and responds by changing its shape. It seeks to mimic human skin by reacting involuntarily to external stimuli, and works through a camera lens smaller than 3 mm detecting a watcher’s gaze and a computer algorithm mapping exactly where they’re looking. Quill-like structures on the garment then flex and ripple in response. It has attracted attention from both tech and fashion publications and has been variously described as both ‘anti-ogling armour’ and ‘wearable Tinder’.
2. Chromat’s Adrenaline Dress and Aeros Sports Bra – respond to physiological changes
Chromat’s Adrenaline dress and Aero Sports Bra were both designed with the Intel Curie Module and sensors that detect body heat, perspiration and respiration in combination with material that is 3D printed out of shape memory alloys (smart metals that react in specific ways to changes in a particular input). This gives both garments the potential to adapt to changes in the wearer’s body temperature, adrenaline and stress levels.
From the front, the dress is your standard little black dress, but it has a wing-like carbon fibre lattice on its back that expands or contracts based on the wearer’s adrenaline, stress, or temperature levels, mimicking the classic fight-or-flight mode.
When the bra senses increases in respiration, perspiration and body temperature of the wearer, it intuitively responds by opening vents to cool down the body. This prevents the wearer from overheating, thus enabling peak performance.
3. Kimbow – a dress that changes colour to match your mood
Kimbow is an interactive dress designed by fashion technologists Eef Lubbers and Malou Beemer, which senses the posture of the wearer and changes colour accordingly. When standing with hands on your hips and elbows turned outwards, the dress changes to a brighter colour to amplify the commanding appearance of the posture, attracting more attention and increasing the confidence of the wearer.
4. BioLogic – bacteria powered material that self ventilates
A joint collaboration between MIT’s Tangible Media Group, The Royal College of Art and sports brand New Balance used bacteria to develop a revolutionary new fabric called BioLogic. The new material is powered by living bacteria that are built into the fabric using a micron-scale bio-printing system.These bacteria, discovered a thousand years ago from fermented Japanese soy beans, react naturally to humidity and heat by expanding and contracting in response to moisture in the air. The technology has been incorporated into a vest that acts like a ‘second skin’ with flaps that open when the body heats up, allowing sweat to evaporate, cooling the body.
5. Bionic Bra
Australian researchers at the University of Wollongong are developing a Bionic Bra that tightens and adjusts itself based on actual breast movement. It consists of both sensors and a type of motor called an actuator that is able to tighten and loosen automatically, allowing it to offer more support during athletic activity, or less when the wearer is relaxing, meaning it can provide consistent comfort and could be worn constantly.
Given research found that 85% of women are wearing bras that don’t fit or support their breasts correctly this could prove popular. However, it’s been in development for over 15 years, as technology has still to catch up to concept!
6. Chameleon-like material that changes colour when flexed
Engineers at UC Berkeley have created a thin, flexible material that can change colour when it’s stretched or bent even a tiny amount. Inspired by chameleons, the material has thousands of tiny features smaller than a wavelength of light etched into its surface. These physically change the way light is reflected depending on how the material is flexed or bent. This is exactly how things such as fabric, leaves and paint get their colour, how butterflies get their wing colours, what makes our eyes blue or brown, and how chameleons control their skin tone.
7. Invisible clothing
Canadian Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp claim to have developed a material that can camouflage its wearers completely – Quantum Stealth. Technically, this is possible. Ten years ago John Pendry, a theoretical physicist at Imperial College London, demonstrated that it should be possible to bend light around an object and hide it using metamaterials (structures engineered at microscopic levels to channel electromagnetic waves). Since then, it has been proven to work, but only in labs using specific wavelengths or from certain angles.
The company claim that the Quantum Stealth material works successfully by bending the light waves around the wearer, so a person can blend into his/her surroundings and that testing has demonstrated that 5% of a shadow would be on the wearer and 95% of the wearer’s shadows would be hidden. The Company has also developed SmartCamo – material embedded with Nanotechnology and metamaterials that blends into its surroundings by changing colours.
The US army has said it’s prepared to test the best ‘invisibility cloaks’ contenders within the next year, so maybe it’s not such a fanciful idea.
8. The Unseen – fabric whose colour changes with heat, sound
Two years ago, Lauren Bowker from The Unseen debuted a couture capsule collection made of a fabric that reacted to heat, sound and friction designed for Swarovski at London’s Fashion Week 2014. The fabric, on sensing a change in the wearer’s environment, changes colour immediately. It’s impregnated with specialised inks that react to seven separate fluctuations in the air around the wearer: UV rays, heat, pollution, moisture, friction, sound, and chemicals. The inks are a combination of Nano-compounds and dyes, and all react to these seven fluctuations in set ways, such as yellow to black in response to pollution.
18 months on, this translated into an accessories collection for Selfridge’s, where each piece was able to change colour to reflect changes in aerodynamics, moisture and ultra-violet light, and included a variety of items such as scarves, bags and a leather jacket.