Since our phones and certain tech devices have become almost appendages of our bodies, being toted everywhere that we go, these tech devices have undergone some fashionable face-lifts. Our phones have been given stylish cases, like these from Lalla, and we are now able to bejewel and charm just about any tech device. Continuing on with the emergence of wearable tech, the sectors of fashion and technology have never been more close or overlapping then they are right now.
The Fashion-Forward Tech Sector
When we usually think of the merge between fashion and tech, we think of wearables and how the larger tech brands and fashion designers are all making a play to merge high-fashion with functional technology. Tech giant Apple, for example, released a gold edition of the Apple Watch as an attempt to compete in the luxury watch market. Although they can never really compete with these luxury brands in terms of design, the fact that Apple now has a partnership with Hermès, who have created luxury watch bands, shows that they are indeed becoming a wearable tech device that can satisfy a fashionable pallet.
A Technical Art Form
What is really setting a precedent, however, is how fashion designers are now adopting technology as the new frontier in truly original and artistic design. Fashion is always about being on the edge of a new aesthetic, and as three prominent exhibitions this year display, the focus is widely on featuring the impact of technology on fashion.
- The MET
The Metropolitan Museum in NYC is hosting an exhibition called Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, running from May 5th to August 14th, 2016. Sponsored by Apple, this impressive exhibition is not exactly about wearables and technologically-infused fashion, but more focused on “techniques and processes,” as Andrew Bolton, MET curator, has described it.
The exhibition features garments that are both hand-made and machine-made – both forms lending to each other so that handmade and machine-made are no longer seen as divided, but are rather shown to be “a continuum or spectrum of practice” in which the gap between haute couture and ready-to-wear is diminishing. The inspirational piece for the exhibition is a dress by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel which he sketched by hand, and then it was “manipulated on the computer to give a pixelated, baroque pattern.” The pattern was then hand-painted onto the train, transfer printed by machine, and finally hand-finished with gemstones by Lasarge. It is the perfect embodiment of handmade couture craft working in syncope with machine production in a way that furthers the art form.
- High Museum of Art
Similarly, Iris van Herpen, the first designer to show 3D printed pieces in a haute couture collection, just had an exhibition dedicated to her work, called Transforming Fashion, displayed at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from November 7th 2015 to May 15th 2016.
Motivated by unbridled creative energy and an eye for the next new thing, van Herpen’s work is seen as going “beyond the world of traditional handwork and craftsmanship.” In many of her designs, van Herpen blends steel and silk, iron and resin, as well as found items and materials – like umbrellas or magnets – and is well known for her technological boundary pushing by creating garments through 3D printing.
- Museum of Fine Arts
Finally, #techstyle is an exhibition showing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from March 6th to July 10th, 2016. Similar to the other exhibitions formerly mentioned, #techstyle explores a synergy between fashion and the technology that designers are using today. This not only creates completely new clothing and concepts of fashion and design, but new ways of producing clothing and an updated way for people to interact with that clothing.
One key element of interest for this exhibition was a focus on the way designers are experimenting with how garments interact with the wearer, as well as the spectator. Perhaps a little closer to the idea of fashion meets wearable tech, the garments displayed in this exhibition react to commands from voice, phone, and the surrounding environment. One dress from designer >Ying Gao is included, which is made with dressmaker pins that respond to sound – be it voice or music – and move in wave-like motion. .