How the fashion industry implements technology and functional design into their accessories, plus a list of cutting edge accessories.
Wearable technology is not a new phenomenon, nor is it a fad, and it isn’t just happening in the tech-hub of Silicon Valley. It is a global trend on the rise which is actively being adopted by leading fashion brands who are paving the future of fashion with avant-garde designs, which merge style with functionality.
Arguably the meeting of fashion and technology was only a matter of time. Wearable technology is projected to become a consumer norm in the not so distant future. According to a report from The Business of Fashion, the current market of $3 to $5 billion is predicted to skyrocket to $10 billion by 2016. A further report carried out by Credit Suisse estimates in the next two to three years the industry could skyrocket to $30 to $50 billion.
We are increasingly seeing designers using technology either as a source of inspiration for their collections and concepts, or physically in their design and production processes.
From heat sensitive materials and radio frequency shielding fabrics, to 3D-printed garments and accessories grown with magnets and bracelets which connect to your phone via Bluetooth, there is no denying that the fashion industry is greatly influenced by developments and innovations from the tech world.
In order for the collaboration of the industries to succeed and flourish, designs must not sacrifice fashion for function, they must boast a stylish aesthetic with a visual appeal for the tech savvy. The key component in the image driven fashion industry is to design with an eye for style, whilst finding new ways of adding utility to what we wear.
The fitness industry was to first to adopt wearable technology with the Nike+iPod Sports Kit in 2006 pioneering the tech revolution as one of the earliest products on the market. The future of the tech industry is now in the hands of fashion, and designers are working to creating products tasteful and versatile enough to wear every day.
Exploring the potential of 3D printing to create clothes and accessories, innovative Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen is recognised as one of the first fashion designers to establish wearable technology as a reality. Using 3D printing, her 2010 Crystallisation collection featured dramatic printed items resembling body armour whilst her recent SS15 fused nature and technology, further pushing the boundaries with the garments “grown” with magnets which explored the interplay of magnetic forces.
Rising star in Japan Kunihiko Morinaga (Anrealage) is also noted for creating revolutionary garments. His forward-thinking fashion concept “Focus: Life Gear by Trident” is a futuristic collection which exhibits the scope of combining technology with everyday wear. Pioneering the tech-sphere, his 12-piece collection is made of radio frequency shielding fabrics that block mobile connectivity when the phone is placed in the garment’s pocket. The collection has been developed to protect you from the virtual world, so you can “keep your life in focus.” The collection is a similar concept to “Stealth Wear” designed by New York designer Adam Harvey who has created a range of anti-drone clothing to hide the wearer from heat detection technologies with metallic fibres that reflect heat, masking the wearer's thermal signature and rendering them undetectable.
The influence of high-tech fabrics on fashion is huge. Ralph Lauren has also introduced high end wearable tech, claiming to be the first luxury lifestyle brand to offer apparel that tracks and streams real-time workout data directly to your smartphone or tablet. The fashion house has created “The Polo Tech shirt”, an innovative new product that merges biometrics into active lifestyle apparel, featuring sensors knitted into the core of the product to read biological and physiological information.
Collaborations are booming between tech giants and fashion designers, putting aesthetics first to produce desirable every day wear for the fashion conscious. From Diane von Fursenberg’s stylish take on google’s smart eyewear - “Made for Glass”, to Opening Ceremony’s “MICA” bracelet, not much more sophisticated to the Apple Watch but much more attractive - groundbreaking wearable technology is all around us.
The influence of technology on the fashion industry could not be more prevalent, technology truly is driving the future of fashion.
Here are some of the world’s most cutting edge accessories to date:
emPOWERED - Patented phone-charging luxury leather bags
Charge on the go. “A forward-thinking leather goods and accessories brand for the modern woman.” Made from luxe leather with a sleek and minimalistic design, emPOWERED bags is the latest to fuse fashion and technology, creating a chic clutch that can bring your iPhone from zero to 100 per cent with battery to spare.
The Bags That Talk: O2 Upcycle
Part of an O2 campaign which will be able to highlight the possibilities of gadget recycling instead of merely throwing away old handsets. O2 recently unveiled a series of designer handbags that double as phones as part of a project that illustrates the possibilities of gadget recycling.
The inventions, dubbed the “Bags That Talk” are created by combining iconic designer handbags including a vintage Celine box handbag, a Chloe shoulder bag and an Alexander McQueen clutch bag, with old Nokia and LG handsets sent in by O2 Recycle customers who no longer had a use for them.
Using medical grade Nylon, the founders of Continuum Fashion 3D print shoes that are the next big thing in fashion tech innovation. The 3D printing process means that the shoes are intricately built layer-by-layer and all in one piece of nylon. From a digital model, the product is built additively instead of the traditional manufacturing process that removes material by drilling and cutting. The 3D-printed shoe collection,"strvct", uses innovative materials to create fantasy-inspired designs.
Erogear - The Tweeting Shoe
A black high-heeled shoe that not only lights up pink, but can stream live Twitter feeds, came out at CES. Designed by Erogear, the shoe has LED lights build into its ankle strap, which gives it a low-resolution screen that will light up even in the darkest of nightclubs.
The future of luxury. Each MEZZI product has an integrated Bluetooth beacon, allowing wireless connectivity between your bag and smartphone, plus further functionality that can be levered through the MEZZI application. The first technology they launched was a unique crowd-sourced GPS tracker, which ensures peace of mind against loss and theft. This smart technology allows you to track your bag from your smart phone – at any time – if you’ve misplaced it.
Adidas have created Real-Time Tweet Shoes, using a pair of their red adiPower Barricade shoes complete with a mini LED screen and processor so athletes can receive tweets of support straight into their shoes. Adidas claims the social sneakers are “the future of athlete connectivity.”
Ducere: Lechal Shoes
Shoes made for innovation. Indian startup Ducere Technologies Pvt has developed shoes that will sync up “with a smartphone that uses Google Maps and vibrate to tell users when and where to turn to reach their destination.” This company makes inner soles and shoes that link up to a smartphone and vibrate under your feet to provide notifications.
The shoes themselves might need some style direction, but it’s a fantastic idea. Ducere Technologies focuses on creating intuitive, unobtrusive and user-friendly wearable technology innovations. Ducere is expected to start selling its Bluetooth-enabled Lechal shoes for more than $100 a pair in September. The company already has orders for 25,000 pairs and expects to sell 100,000 by March. Ducere initially developed the shoes to help the blind who rely on walking canes.
Richard Nicoll and Vodaphone: Re-charging tote bag
For Autumn/Winter 2012, designer Richard Nicoll took a more practical approach, partnering with Vodafone to develop a tote bag that can recharge a mobile phone and features a Bluetooth-enabled charm that alerts users to incoming calls or texts and displays remaining battery life.
The exclusive re-charging tote bag was developed in partnership with Vodafone’s innovation team and merges practicality with beautiful design. Charged magnetically by induction, the battery powered bag holds enough charge to power the most demanding smartphone for a couple of days.