High-Tech Fashion: Do Fashion and Technology Mix?

by Emma Dibaja on August 16, 2010

We’re living in a time of incredible technological breakthroughs. Just think back a mere 10-15 years and you’ll notice just how much has changed since then. You can’t help but wonder what’s next?

Well, think no further, as now researchers and fashion designers are beginning to integrate technology into the clothes that we wear.

LED-encrusted dresses

Just a few days ago I was reading an article on how technology has developed to a stage where there is no point that our clothes shouldn’t include some sort of a gadget. And when technology calls, fashion’s more than happy to answer. Many designers are now in talks planning and designing clothes that have technology built in them. Soon there will be no need to worry about forgetting your mobile phone home, as your dress will most probably include one.

As mentioned by BBC’s Technology Reporter, Zoe Kleinman, “Since the creation of the very first wearable computer in 1961, generations of fashion designers, academics, computer programmers and scientists have been collaborating to create garments which fuse haute couture with hi-tech”. So from this we’re meant to understand that haute couture might soon start to resemble hi-tech couture. Well, I suppose there is a fine line between the two anyway, as haute couture has always meant something that’s unique and custom-made and that pushes the envelope a bit.

Galaxy Dress by CuteCircuit

Dr Seymour, an expert in the field of technology, mentioned that so-called “wearable technology” has seen some of its biggest commercial successes in the field of sportswear, while specifying brands like Gore-Tex, “which incorporate sensors monitoring an athlete’s performance or heart rate”. And the leap to having these gadgets in our every-day wear doesn’t seem all that big.

Pop-stars Rihanna and Katy Perry wearing Led-encrusted dresses

One interesting example is CuteCircuit, an Interaction Design and Wearable Technology company, which specializes in the development of wearable interfaces for telecommunication and smart textiles. The dresses that CuteCircuit have designed include LED-lights controlled by a small electric circuit and they are powered by watch batteries stitched into the label. Some pop stars have already tried and tested these dresses in their performances, with apparent success. But don’ t you think it’s one thing to perform on stage with a light-powered dress, and another to go to a cocktail party wearing a dress that blinks. No doubt it will turn heads, but will it be for the right reasons?

Based on what I can see here and on my own personal taste, I would have to say that at least for the time being, this is a no-no for me. Borderline, odd fashion is just about manageable, but this goes slightly further than that. I just fail to see the pragmatism of the idea, even though that’s probably exactly the point: To make your life “easier”. But who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be rushing to buy my own Solar Clutch bag. ;)

What do you think about the mix of fashion and technology? Pragmatic or plain unnecessary?

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