StyleCoalition and Microsoft give a glimpse into the future of fashion and tech
Fashion is no longer just about hand-drawn sketches and long hours spent at the sewing machine. Trends like wearable tech and 3D printing are the next big thing because they represent a true marriage of fashion and tech that's taking the industry by storm.
Wearable tech is the new “it” trend in fashion, and the industry is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2016, according to Gartner research. Wearable tech adds computing functions to the fibres of clothing, making our interaction with tech even more mobile and effortless. For example, The Printing Dress by Microsoft Research lets you text what you’re thinking right onto the dress!
3D printing is used in the fashion industry with everything from shoes to lingerie being - you guessed it - printed! 3D printing is the tech alternative to traditional ways of making clothes and accessories. You can create your own jewellery design, upload it to a site like Shapeways for printing and have it delivered right to your home.
Computer-aided design (CAD) is a fashion-forward tool that allows designers to save time and money by creating their masterworks quickly on a computer rather than drawing by hand. Designers use CAD in both 2D and 3D to draw, create woven structures and patterns, adjust fabric, choose colors and view their designs on virtual models!
Social media and mobile apps are changing the way we interpret and purchase new trends. Increasing amounts of “fashionistas” are now turning to Pinterest and Instagram for fashion advice and inspiration. These trends are helping indie fashion houses, bloggers and vloggers break into the competitive fashion industry.
Cool Fashion Tech
Fashion designers are tapping into technology to make clothes unique and wearable while also making them do some really awesome things.
A-list stars are now sporting app-enabled LED dresses that get everyone staring because of their bright and colorful flashing lights. The shoe dreams of virtually every girl in this world are now a reality thanks to Tanya Heath, who is the visionary for the Tanya Heath Paris shoe line. The line is a collection of adjustable heel shoes that go from a two-inch walking heel to a four-inch, more elegant heel with a click of a button.
Google Glass is getting a lot of hype in the media with a promise to “get technology out of the way” and make our interaction with it completely hands-free. The futuristic glasses function as a wearable computer with a head-mounted display and a sleek look in a variety of colours. Google Glass brings information straight to your eyes in a hands-free format. From browsing the web to recording a video, the user interacts with the Glass through natural language voice commands. Now that’s some really cool stuff.
Ariel Garten, the co-founder of a Canadian startup InteraXon has coupled her background in fashion and neuroscience to produce the sleek and fashionable Muse headband – a brainwave reading gadget that helps you understand your mind, thoughts, and emotions. Brainwave headbands can also be used to do so many other cool things like playing video games or interacting with our smartphones. And best of all, it’s completely hands-free because our brain does all the work!
Many world-renowned designers and boutiques are finding new ways to show off their new collections using tech. For example, designers Badgley Mischka and Bergdorf Goodman co-previewed their new collection on Pinterest and got 39,788 followers after posting only 42 photos!
The Ralph Lauren line has been experimenting with tech by launching online-only fashion shows where viewers can purchase outfits as they hit the runway without having to wait the usual six months for outfits to arrive in stores. David Lauren, senior vice president of Ralph Lauren line, has also re-invented the concept of window-shopping by introducing interactive screens with changing images in New York city stores, allowing people to make purchases right from their smartphones without having to enter the store!
Cool Fashion and Tech Careers
Mobile Apps Developers have the smarts to make cool fashion tech like app-controlled LED dresses. They can work as freelancers and develop apps like Dream Closet that brings your whole closet to your smartphone so you can match up new clothes to what you already own when you're shopping. Mobile apps developers also work for fashion houses to give them that vital digital edge.
CAD Designers work in 2D and 3D space to create patterns, prints and designs that turn a simple outfit into a bold fashion statement. Instead of having to sketch by hand and produce outfits in different sizes and colours, fashion designers can now play around with their sketches on a computer and try them on different body shapes and sizes. It makes the work of fashion designers a lot more efficient and cost-effective!
3D Aritsts take the virtual blueprints of CAD designers and use specialized software to make the sketches “come alive.” 3D artists are in demand in many fields where they combine their artistic personality with personal interests.
Industrial Designers are widely employed in the wearable tech field to design smart, sleek and functional gadgets that can work either on their own or be incorporated into haute-tech outfits.
Depending on the project, the fashion industry employs engineers across different disciplines. Computer, software and electronics engineers work the magic of high-tech garments and apps, while urban and industrial engineers make designers’ visions work in real life by evaluating them and offering suggestions.
Tech Marketing Specialists work with designers to develop and execute innovative web and mobile campaigns, including online fashion shows. Tech marketing specialists watch digital marketing trends to make sure they use the most up-to-date techniques and software to create buzz with the fans.
Ryerson School of Fashion is one of the top undergraduate fashion schools worldwide. It offers advance studies in fashion design, communication and culture. The Fashion Design program at Ryerson has courses in CAD design, fashion management and apparel design. It allows students to combine their tech skills, business savvy and an artsy personality into a one huge bundle of success!
For a thorough and well-rounded understanding of fashion and tech, look into the Digital Futures program at OCAD University that offers a theoretical approach to fashion and teaches students about the basics of design and aesthetics in today’s digital world.
If you want to expand your knowledge on wearable tech, consider getting a postgraduate certificate from OCAD University to learn how to incorporate sensor and wireless tech with the body. The program opens possibilities for artists and designers to discover new ways tech could be used in fashion.
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