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Wearable Tech Goes à La Mode

When I arrived in Paris earlier this month, the first billboard that jumped into view was an ad for the “Weareable Fashiontech Festival.”

I rolled my eyes, thinking that I don’t have time for this.

But one happenstance led to another. I got a call from former EET colleague, Anne-Françoise Pelé, who was covering the show. So, after an interview elsewhere in Paris, I hopped over to the Wearable thing, to check it out and shmooze with Anne.

Besides, it’s not like I am not interested in fashion.

What doesn’t pique my interest, however, is “wearable” technology pitches in general, largely because they tend to be apples dressed up as oranges. I’ve had a few “wearable tech” experiences of my own. In Cannes in the early 2000’s, the Mobile World Congress organizers pioneered the mobile technology fashion show concept. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly take the world by storm.

However, thanks to advancements in sensors, 3D printers and an industry-wide push for the Internet of Things, along with the Makers’ movement, wearable devices are now ubiquitous. They’ve infiltrated our clothing and they no longer look like some sort of sci-fi parasite trying to burrow into human flesh.

Still, an absent element in most so-called “fashion tech” wearables is a point of view from fashion designers.

Tech guys may find LED-lit T-shirts “kind of cool.” But given access to the technology, artists or real fashion designers would likely conceive whole new uses for “wearable” fabrics, much different from the stuff of engineers’ dreams.

Anne-Sophie Berard, artistic director of the exhibition, told me that the focus of the fashiontech show is less on technology and more toward artists’ ideas for what fashion can bring to the society as a statement, aided by technology. “We focused on young artists rather than established fashion designers,” she added. 

Designs exhibited at the Weareable Fashiontech festival in Paris last week included ‘spider dresses’ capable of protecting a woman’s body (some of you might have already seen this at the Consumer Electronics Show last year), fungal T-shirts that breathe and live on their own, and clothing designed to communicate with others. Yes, some of this stuff was fairly weird (wearable fungus?), but it all offers a glimpse of how tomorrow’s fashion might blend with technology.

AWE Goosebumps

The 'AWE Goosebumps' dress features a bio-responsive animatronic skin that amplifies the feeling of goosebumps and animates awe. According to Sensoree which designed it, 'biosensors monitor the emotional rush and the dress illuminates with inflatable wonder.' But how about a new name?

The “AWE Goosebumps” dress features a bio-responsive animatronic skin that amplifies the feeling of goosebumps and animates awe. According to Sensoree which designed it, “biosensors monitor the emotional rush and the dress illuminates with inflatable wonder.” But how about a new name?

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.

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