Wearable technology or “Techno Fashion” is taking the world by storm. For years fashion designers have been incorporating technology into their runway shows. But only recently has wearable tech become a more prominent part of the fashion world. With technology’s rapid expanse and the invention of the “Apple Watch” the fashion world has had to catch up and now at fashion weeks all over the globe this trend is booming. We are now seeing technology become embedded within garments on the runaway. Although some of these high tech creations, seen on the runway, are not yet available for regular consumer culture they are not far off
Bradley Quinn accurately sums up the emergence of the hybridization of fashion and technology, appearing in the 1990s and early 2000’s, in his book Techno Fashion;
“From digital dresses to remote-control couture, Techno fashion exposes the revolutionary interface between contemporary fashion and technology. Wearable cameras, wireless communicators, metallic nodules and electronic embroidery may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but these devices are real enough to revolutionize the meaning and function of fashion forever. Right now, teams of chemists, physicists, fashion designers and engineers are busy creating the high-tech future of fashion.” (Quinn, 2002)
One of the most recent and visually spectacular collaborations of technology and fashion appeared last year at London Fashion Week. For his Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Richard Nicoll, in a partnership with Disney, introduced a Tinkerbelle inspired mesmerizing “Jellyfish dress”. The dress was created in collaboration with technology company STUDIO XO. Made from fiber optic fabric and activated by high intensity LEDS tailored into the garment.
“A fibre optic fabric is a textile that can be illuminated by inducing a light source on one end of the fibre. As it is made of optical fibre, it can functions as a waveguide, or “light pipe” to transmit light on the surface between the two ends of the fiber.” (Micro wear, 2015)
When exhibited on the runway this enchanting, ethereal dress appeared to sprinkle fairy dust along the catwalk as the model walked. The true beauty in the technology of this dress is how seamlessly it has been integrated. The beauty and delicacy of this garment shines through, making this piece of clothing still about the designers craftsmanship, that went into the dress, and not just about the technology that can be seen visually. The designer has imbued many elements into each of his otherworldly garments without affecting the outcome and making it appear over the top. Watching the catwalk video, it is easy to become absorbed within the show.
Richard Nicoll’s design begs the question will we be seeing more of this fibre optic fashion on our shelves in the near future?
The answer is yes! A quick web search of “fibre optic clothes” turns out that there are manufacturers already marketing these garments online. They will however set you back around 200 – 1000 AUD. And these designers haven’t quite achieved the delicacy and beauty of Richard Nicoll’s jelly fish dress.
Forbes.com,. 2015. ‘Is this the first example of truly beautiful wearable tech?’ http://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2014/09/15/is-this-the-first-example-of-truly-beautiful-wearable-tech/.
Lumigram.com,. 2015. ‘Luminous Fabric, Luminous Clothing, Fiber Optic Clothing, Fiber Optic Fabric, Illuminated Clothing, Light Up Fabric, Glowing Fabric, LED Clothing’. http://www.lumigram.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=1.
Microwear.com.au,. 2015. ‘Fibre Optic Fabric’. https://www.microwear.com.au/eureka/products/fibre-optic-fabric.
Quinn, Bradley. “Introduction.” The Berg Fashion Library. 2002. http://www.bergfashionlibrary.com/view/TECFASH/chapter-TECFASH0003.xml (accessed 5 Sep. 2015).
STEMplusD,. 2015. ‘This Fiber Optic Dress Inspired By Tinker Bell Is A Step Forward Toward Techcouturism’. http://stemplusd.com/blog/fashion-design/fiber-optic-dress-richard-nicoll-techcouturism/.
Sung, Dan. 2015. ‘London Fashion Week Review: How Did Wearable Tech Fare?’. Wareable. http://www.wareable.com/fashion/london-fashion-week-review-how-did-wearable-tech-fare.