I often feel like an evangelist championing the cause of wearable technology and smart textiles every time I present a talk at a fashion event (vs the usual tech conference). My colleagues in the fashion industry are typically hesitant — even resistant — to embrace wearable tech and quickly delegate it to the realm of kitsch, costume design, or, at best, the action sports industry.
I find myself standing in the sidelines telling them to "Just wait. The materials and medium are fairly new to the fashion/design world. The creative process is radically different. We need a new crop of hybrid designers to create, to experiment..."
Petal Dress: Short-sleeved stretch-cotton mini-dress . Screen printed with sun-reactive ink. Indoors the dress remains green and in the sunlight it changes color.
So when I stumble upon the works of designers such as Amy Winters
, I feel justified: I am not wrong. Amy Winter's Spring/Summer Collection 2011 is a line of ready-to-wear fashions created from prints that use thermo- and hydrochromatic inks.
Water activated dress transforms the flowers and bodice into full colour.
Color-changing fashion of course is not revolutionary. I've written about previous projects here
. Even American Apparel revived the 80s kitsch factor in 2008 with their collection of temperature sensitive Ts.
But what separates Ms. Winter's collection from the rest is the creative use of patterns with the properties of the inks to reveal and disappear. Yes, so ultimately it is design with purpose and intention that makes her collection appear less of a gimmick and something that I would actually want to buy and wear.
lycra lightning-print swimsuit, central panel turns into purple dots in sunlight
And yah…ok…thermochromatic inks were developed in the 1970s and they aren't really a new smart material. But they have recently become easier for designers to get ahold of and experiment with to develop new ideas around.
So as we move forward and as you develop new projects, I encourage you all to continue to experiment both with the concept, form and function of your products.