Everyone is embracing technology; it’s part of our everyday lives. In the world of fashion, brands like Nike and Ralph Lauren have begun to utilise elements of technology in their garments.
We all know some examples of wearable technology. Take the Apple watch, which enables you to access texts and apps right on your wrist. The watch – and the iPhone, as long as it is on your person – also counts your steps and distance walked per day. Plus, you can enter additional data to get a better picture of your overall health. Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren has released a shirt that records your biometric data while you're wearing it. Whilst information like calories burned, steps taken, as well as heart and breathing rates can be sent directly to your iPhone or Apple watch for convenience.
Wearable technologies are quickly becoming a new feature of fashion. Nike has recently announced a partnership with HP, allowing the sportswear company to start utilising their new 3D printer. Nike is no stranger to 3D printing, they've been using it for about three years now, but this new printer will allow them to get more products out and at a quicker pace.
But what about the world of couture garments? It’s embracing technology too. We've all seen the Zac Posen dress for Claire Danes that took the world by storm. The modern Cinderella look was made possible by the use of LED lights and 30 mini battery packs that were sewn into the dress's lining. It took six people over 600 hours to make that dream come to life. Whilst Dutch designer Iris van Herpen makes technology the focus when creating her pieces.
In 2010 she was one of the first designers to craft a dress with 3D printing. TIME Magazine named her 3D-printed dress one of the 50 best inventions of 2011. She's designed garments for Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Beyoncé. Van Herpen has also experimented with laser cutting, magnetised fibres, and ultrasonic welding, often collaborating with scientists and the people behind the technology.
New York-based designer Francis Bitonti is also a big fan of 3D printing. He is known for designing a 3D-printed dress for Dita von Teese and has also created an awesome pair of 3D-printed shoes. He is currently putting all of his effort into 3D printing, favouring the new technology over more traditional methods.
Created in 2004, the brand CuteCircuit was the first to start making wearable technologies. They have a couture line as well as one which is ready-to-wear. Their goal is to combine technology with beautiful garments that are wearable and functional. The brand has many celebrity fans. Katy Perry has worn many CuteCircuit creations on stage and at events like the Met Gala. And Nicole Scherzinger wore a CuteCircuit dress that featured live tweets on the dress.
The brand uses patented and patent pending technologies whilst all products adhere to the CuteCircuit Gold Standard, which is the highest standard for wearable technology. All garments, which are made in the UK, are also completely RoHS compliant, which means there are no hazardous materials present, no traces of mercury or lead – they are 100% safe to wear.
One of CuteCircuit's most interesting products is the Hug Shirt; it allows you to send hugs to loved ones no matter the distance. The shirt has multiple in-built sensors that pick up on the strength of the touch, the warmth of the hugger's skin, and their heartbeat, then it transmits all that information over to your loved one. The shirt is Bluetooth enabled and connects to an app on your smartphone. The unique features of your hug are then transmitted to your friend's app, which then connects to their shirt.
Humans need to feel touch to stay happy; it is proven that a lack of human contact can cause depression. The Hug Shirt helps reconnect people to their friends and family who may have moved away or are working overseas and feeling lonely. This technology, which helps spread warmth and happiness, was nominated as one of the best inventions by TIME Magazine in 2006.
One of the biggest driving forces for wearable technology is the medical field. A lot of products are being created that have the ability to sync with apps on your phone to provide vital information or help you manage your health. One such product is Valedo Back Therapy. The product includes sensors that attach to your lower back and connect to an app on your phone. The app then suggests exercises tailored to your condition, which help relieve lower back pain. Another example of wearable technology in the medical field is the HealthPatch MD. This device has a removable sensor built into a patch, which monitors your vital information like heart rate, breathing, temperature, and the position of your body in an event of a fall. The patch is Bluetooth enabled and can connect to a mobile device, allowing you to view the statistics in real time.
Recent advancements in technology have had a huge impact on other aspects our daily lives, now it seems to be taking over the fashion industry too. Wearable technologies seamlessly integrate with our bodies and have the ability to make our lives easier and provide us with information and statistics we may not have even been thinking about. Without having to do anything extra, our phones, watches, and maybe even our shirts, have the ability to track our steps, heart rate, and many other useful things, while utilising technology in couture pieces can create looks that astound and amaze. They can make ideas that were once the stuff of dreams become reality. If designers continue to embrace developing technologies like this it could change the entire industry. And for those who think technology and fashion do not mix, just remember that we would still be sewing everything by hand if it weren't for the cutting-edge invention in 1790 of the sewing machine.