Thanks to social media, the latest trends from high-end designers at the consumer fest that is London Fashion Week (LFW) are increasingly accessible to the masses, rather than only to the few lucky enough to bag a front row seat. Short clips from the front row itself are instantly uploaded onto applications such as Instagram, which are virtually accessible in real-time. The barrage of live streaming from LFW itself, as well as coverage from Twitter, is constant.
So technology has certainly changed the way we access the latest offerings; but has it yet made a marked impact on the garments themselves?
Not really, seems to be the general consensus. Wearable tech should still be confined to the movies and outlandish catwalk shows, some say. But designers are doggedly continuing to strive to make the distinction between ‘fashion’ and ‘technology’ more seamless, and to incorporate tech as a luxury feature.
During LFW, a label that uses advanced materials to visualise digital data will debut a jacket with an ‘eighth sense’ – the ability to change colour based on the brainwaves of the wearer. ‘The Unseen’ describes itself as a ‘magical world of science fused with design…one of the first quartiers to merge scientific innovation with material craft’.
CuteCircuit, founded in 2004 by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, is also set to have a strong presence. Cute Circuit is the creator of The Hug Shirt, a Bluetooth garment that can be connected to a smart phone to transmit ‘hugs’ as easily as text messages. Their creations have garnered a strong celebrity fan base, including Ellie Goulding and Katy Perry. Clothes that are also smartphones are on the horizon, according to CuteCircuit:
“In five to 10 years, all the little gadgets we have to carry around – like mobile phones, cameras or bracelets – will disappear and everything will be integrated into a garment,” says Francesca Rosella.
We might ask ourselves exactly why clothes designers are so keen to push the fusion of fashion and technology to the limit. How many of these innovations are truly necessary to our daily lives? But then, fashion has never been about what is necessary or essential.
One of the motivations behind the renewed surge in investment in wearable technology by big brands such as Ralph Lauren is the increase in consumer spending on other technology, such as smartphones. Ralph Lauren’s latest sports shirt can monitor your heartbeat, respiration and stress levels, while Tommy Hilfiger’s new jacket with solar panels can charge your phone or tablet on the move.
Spending on clothing and accessories just hasn’t seen the same levels of growth, and no-one wants to be left behind.
Who can blame designers for going in for a larger slice of technology pie?