Connected Fashion – From the first generation of chunky wrist-worn wearable tech devices to pure fashion masterpieces, there is no doubt that fashion tech has evolved, and it is slowly integrating our lives. While the so-called classic fashion companies are trying to come to terms with the digitisation and the unstoppable changes it brings, there are more and more startups using wearable technology to create smart garments that retain their fashionable look while also bringing that extra layer of functionality required by the new generations of fashion consumers.
Here are 5 of the best brands using wearable tech, smart textiles, connected fabrics, shaping the future of our wardrobes and creating the fashion of tomorrow.
Connected Fashion By Like A Glove
This company helps you find the perfect jeans for you. Like A Glove has designed a pair of leggings with embedded sensors that can measure your legs shape in just a few seconds.
Thanks to the embedded sensors and the smart fabrics, the leggings can get your size and then send via Bluetooth to the app on your mobile phone that can search for matching sizes on selected online shops.
The idea here is not to sell jeans but help you find the perfect fit for you. Once the list of perfectly matching pairs shows on your app, you can select the one you like, based on the style, colour, price and purchased with one click.
At the moment, the company has the following brands in its database: Diesel, Uniqlo, Lucky Brand, Gap, Levi’s, 7 For All Mankind, Old Navy, Citizens of Humanity, Joe’s, J Brand, American Eagle, Paige, Ann Taylor, Banana Rep., True Religion, AG, Hudson, Lee, Rag and Bone, Wrangler, with many more to come.
The Lab Leather, Modern Meadow
Modern Meadow is a company that grows raw materials in the lab. Looking for a solution that could help humanity’s fast urbanisation and accelerated population growth, the company started by growing meat in their lab.
However, the company did not stop at making meat, and their new venture is high-quality lab made leather, for the fashion industry. The company is able not only to engineer leather but also infuse it with properties that otherwise would not exist in nature.
The lab made leather has additional properties, and it is the perfect statement that the fashion industry is going to be transformed by nanotech and biotech. It is a natural, evolutive step, from the old, polluting petrochemical industry.
“The 20th century facilitated a generation of materials that came out of the petrochemical industry – e.g. lycra, nylon and the synthetics facilitated by chemistry – the 21st century belongs to biotechnology,” said the CCO at Modern Meadow, Suzanne Lee.
Connected Fashion By Wearable Experiments
The founder of Wearable Experiments, Billie Whitehouse, designed a smart jersey, ahead of this year’s Super Bowl. Called the “Fan Jersey” the garment is, in fact, a tech-infused t-shirt that fans can wear and somehow feel what the players feel on the pitch.
Using Bluetooth, the t-shirt sends haptic vibrations to the wearer, in real-time, as the game unfolds on the pitch and the players interact with each other.
The t-shirt adds that extra layer of emotional attachment, getting the spectator as close as it can be to the action of the match, without having to be physically involved in the game.
Whitehouse’s hopes that her idea does not stop on the football pitch but sees wider adoption by the entertainment industry. Theatres, cinema, live concerts. Imagine feeling the heartbeat of the main actor, while running to save the world for example or Lewis Hamilton winning the favourite formula one championship.
The Smart Jacket, Levi’s And Google
A smart jacket designed in collaboration with Project Jacquard. P.J. is the fashion tech team at Google, in charge of researching and designing conductive threads embedded into textiles, therefore enabling any garment to become smart and interactive.
The company’s first release is “commuter” jacket, a smart piece of a garment designed in collaboration with popular jeans company, Levi’s. Project Jacquard proves that the smart fabrics have reached a level of interactivity, sufficient to conduct electricity, detect hand touch, position and pressure.
The “Commuter” jacket signals not only the commercial beginnings of a new type of fabric but also the start of a new kind of fashion category as both teams are working on new types smart clothes, to be released by mid-2017.
The Unseen for Selfridges
Founded by Lauren Bowker, this London-based company captures the idea of changing colours, altered based on the user’s interaction with the surrounding environment.
The idea proved very popular, and the company released back in 2015, the “Unseen”, a dedicated line of luxury accessories specially designed for Selfridges.
The collection contains a scarf, a backpack, phone case and extra accessories, all interactive and able to respond to body temperature, air pressure, hand touch, sunlight and the wind.
The shoulder bag – made from alligator skin – is seasonal responsive as the smart ink allows for colour shifting from blue in the summer to green. The green colour is then slowly changing to red as the autumn comes, darkening to black for the winter and going back to light red for the spring season.
Connected Fashion – Emel + Aris
Emel + Aris have raised over £100.000 (GBP) via their successful Kickstarter campaign, back in March this year, with their idea of a smart coat.
Emel + Aris smart coat looks simple, classic, just like a line of outerwear for both women and men. However, behind its simple look, the coat hides some impressive wearable tech that allows the jacket to warm you up when needed.
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The main material used is a mixture of polymer and smart wires able to absorb the far infrared (FAR) energy, from the smart panels located across the garment, and convert it into heat.
The smart heating garments are becoming increasingly popular, not only with professional athletes but also with consumers. The generated heat is absorbed by the skin to heat the muscles, increase blood flow and keep you cosy, no matter the weather outside.