Wearing tech: Where fashion meets technology

Wearing tech: Where fashion meets technology

Fashion in the Eye of the Designer

This is technology as art, which means that different players have varied interpretations of the form. Maggie Orth, founder and CEO of International Fashion Machines, takes the big view. She points out that wearables combine elements of soft and hard materials, traditional and modern technologies, and old and new aesthetics. And she argues that a wearable is "an extension of self," so therefore a car could included be in the category because it's exo-skeleton like.

Others describe wearables as the artistic meeting of form and function.

"There are the hearing aids, pace-makers, tiny radios and music players, Bluetooth earphones, eyewear with built-in screens, wrist PDAs; the list is seemingly endless," CEO of Aniomagic, Nwanua Elumeze says. "I would categorize 'wearables' as a class of computational artifacts that are intended to be worn, distinguishable from things one needs to remember to take."

Some argue that to be considered as a wearable, beyond something worn, technology and textile must converge. However, electronic textiles ("etextiles" in the field) -fabrics with electronics woven into them-aren't the only form of wearables. Some use sensors, heat, motors, computers and solar power to work.

Not only do designers have access to work with a variety of textiles and embellishments, but they can also play with technology types, Leah Buechley, research scientist for the Craft Technology Group at University of Colorado-Boulder, points out. "Wearables give designers a whole new palate to work with".

Waldemeyer, the designer who's brought technical aspects to Chalayan's work, acknowledges that although Chalayan's runway models may sport some tech-inspired creations, he really can't see wearables being sold at mainstream apparel stores. For the foreseeable future at least, he believes that the field will continue to play a role in niche markets, he says.

Even so, there are wearable products that can tell us the time, allow us to express ourselves through light-up signage, let us interact better with video games and allow others to monitor how fast our hearts are beating. And wearables attract a wider audience to technology. Some women for example, find the wearables field to be attractive transition into technology.

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