|Re:fashioned - General|
Cooke said that prominent highstreet brands still considered it too risky to experiment with digital technologies, saying "fashion was quite slow to pick up on technology, particularly in luxury. They were very scared in the beginning - still a lot of people are."
This statement comes as a surprise during a season show that bloggers branded the techiest yet. Usually an invite-only party of a select 55,000, front row seats were up for grabs virtually, via the power of live streaming, making every stitch, pleat and hem visible to cyber-watchers. LFW provided access to 4million, a far cry from the technology-shy picture Cooke has painted.
The launch of the iPhone 5 allowed Burberry to ride the gadget's wave of publicity, utilising the slow motion effect to stage its breath-taking A/W show. A specially installed 'insta-booth' provided Instagram users with an interactive shoot-and-print facility, whilst Grazia pioneered Grazia360, a platform utilising social medias such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to showcase designer Giles Deacon's latest work.
But Cooke, who also worked for Burberry before his reign at Topshop, says we should not judge the fashion industry by the hive of digital activity that springs from LFW twice a year. Highstreet brands should be focusing on the interim digital marketing they do throughout the year, between shows. One aspect perhaps missing from LFW is a follow-on digital platform for users to interact with after the show's lights have faded.
"One of the first things I pioneered at Topshop was creating the first ever live customisation of the catwalk. This technology allowed viewers to change the colour of a look coming down the runway which kept them on the site for longer," says Cooke. "But perhaps more importantly you get real time insights from your customers of what shapes and colours they love the most which is very powerful."
The use of sensors and control to feedback the exact reaction from viewers, or even utilising digital-video to give the clothes horses who don the clothes - aka models - a voice is far from implementation but could allow LFW to become more interactive than ever. The opportunities are infinite, if only the fashion industry would grab them.
Knit pullovers, including glittery jumpers, moved away from Sampson's consistent over-masculine look and were teamed with sheer pastel shirts. The SS14 collection rides a burgeoning trend within the fashion industry to partner with companies that can merge their technical abilities with the artistic vision of fashion designers. It is hoped that eventually we will see the emergence of high-performance nanomaterials that will be widely utilised by the fashion industry. Regain is a company normally celebrated for supplying garments to workwear industries including firefighting and the French military.
"This partnership is a new adventure allowing us to share our know-who and also discover the creativity of those young talents, sharing and inspiration are the common theme." said a spokesman for Regain.
The pieces in the collaboration feature 'Samson' branding in keeping with the racing element of the collection and are made in lightweight cotton. A feature pullover is knitted in transparent iridescent yarns, which show off the masterful technical abilities of Regain as a knit manufacturer.
"The glitter jumpers were a collaboration with a French company and they actually supply knitwear clothes to the military in France," said Sampson. "It was nice that they are going for a more fashion forward look and collaborating with New York designers like me who don't have the ability to do interesting knits. They do it well and technically they can achieve more interesting things than I can with knits."
Edited: 25 July 2013 at 03:24 PM by Abi Grogan
Many students are involved in projects that spearhead several design interests. One emerging area is the development of car interiors as part of the initial design process, rather than an afterthought, merging the fields of automotive and fashion design. I spoke to three students exhibiting at the SHOW RCA 2013 about their particular interest in production and manufacturing processes in textiles and fashion.
Cherica Haye - Textiles
Cherica's stand-out fabrics include a viscose-based mix called antara, which is round in texture pre-manufacture, but when pressed becomes flat and waterproof. There was experimented with natural fibres such as horsehair spun with wool to create a hardwearing, fireproof fabric which could be used to furnish coaches.
"We need to move away from thinking about textiles as an afterthought in automotive design. I like working with fabrics that typically people don't think of as luxury."
In automotive design, luxury represented a huge slice of the market, and interiors are no different. Cherica has used plastic yarns manufactured in a way that causes them to appear like leather, this fabric is often used in androgynous, edgy tailoring. She is using interior design as a way to link fashion and automotive, and was involved in two projects run by Sabic Plastics and Jaguar / Audi as part of Clerkenwell Design Week both of which were attempting to make interiors and car design fresher and younger.
Elena Blank - Accessories
Bringing a whole new dimension to the term bespoke fashion, Blank specialises in accessories incorporating 3D printed components, allowing her to customise each accessory to its buyer.
"I create accessories with a distinct 'industrial' look," says Blank, "For example I've 3D printed a range of jewellery which includes a ring with a sliding lid to hold something precious. The body of the ring has been 3D printed so it can be tailored to the wearer's fingers."
She also produces a line of prototype bags which unzip to reveal a row of bespoke lipstick and pen holders that can also be 3D printed in a mere 40 minutes to accommodate a favourite brand of lipstick or pen. The hinges on her bags are also 3D printed, along with trigger-inspired clasps.
"I like the idea of rapid prototyping, reacting immediately an order inspires me and I like the idea of being able to provide exactly what the customer wants, immediately."
Emma Sheldon - Textiles
Emma Sheldon experiments with texture in her striking range of fabrics created from mixes of acrylic, vinyl and fine fabrics.
In one piece, she has used a mix of silk jersey backed with a PU vinyl backing which allows complex laser-cutting to take place without the fabric falling to pieces. Her fabrics feature repeated patterns, shapes and textures. "Vinyl was a breakthrough for me - it's a very flexible and allows me to reinvent this system again and again."
"As textiles become more complex, fashion becomes influenced by textiles. Textiles are a very romantic field to work in, so I think it's important to reconnect with the technology and production processes that made them."
She was inspired by architecture, saying it provided her with a way of taking textiles across borders. "Architecture made me consider how we force materials together, how I collaborate as a fashion student with a designer. Automotive in particular has opened up my eyes to different industries and the importance of sharing best practice."SHOW RCA 2013
Edited: 15 July 2013 at 04:18 PM by Abi Grogan
Enter fashion labels Norwegian Rain and Christopher Raeburn. Norwegian Rain describe their SS14 line as extreme rainwear technology that meets Japanese simplicity and traditional men's tailoring. A humble brand from the Fjords, GQ Magazine's Robert Johnston hailed them as "definitely this year's most stylish way to stay dry." Norwegian Rain promotes a cradle-to-cradle sensibility, steered by the Scandinavian duo of businessman and bespoke tailor, the brand draws on both men's experience of growing up in a country that suffers constant bouts of rain.
Their new line focuses mainly on sharp tailored jackets, trenchcoats and ponchos that have the credentials and aesthetics of fine tailoring, but posess the functionality of extreme weather clothing. In creating Norwegian Rain, founder and Creative Director Alexander Helle and bespoke tailor T-Michael say they have managed to merge tradition and technology, creating beautiful products that are technically efficient, whilst still respecting the breathtaking Norwegian environment in which they are manufactured.
The energy efficient ecology behind the brand springs predominantly from their choice of fabrics; 100 per cent recycled fabrics and the finest in organic cotton. No solvents are used in the production of the membrane (which features a polyurethane coating) meaning waste is eliminated, oil and energy consumption are decreased and C02 emissions by manufacturing are reduced by 80 per cent when compared to normal rates of production. A breakthrough can be found in it's polyethylene membrane, which is itself is also recyclable, this is unusual in the respect that when it is used regular in garment manufacture, recycling is normally almost impossible.
Another fashion staple who took inspiration from European extreme sports is Christopher Raeburn, who was promoting a new line of jackets utilising a four-way stretch soft-shell fabric usually associated with climbing gear. Schoeller, a Switzerland-based technological innovation in textiles is used in mountaineering due to it's high performance water resistance and durability.
"I opted to use Schoeller's four-way stretch fabric on my new line because it's water resistant, durable and breathable which makes it more comfortable to wear," said Raeburn, "It also takes colour very well, which is shown in our the unique print it features which is desert inspired."
His SS14 collection also featured recycled elements, under sub-brand Remade, which included elements of rubberised cotton made by Belstaff in the 1960's. The jackets were mixed with fabrics used by British military and manufactured in a small run of only fifty.
Edited: 20 June 2013 at 04:49 PM by Abi Grogan
Social Media helps London Collection: Mens to engage with public
The four-day long schedule culminated in a mish-mash of multimedia entertaining the front row, including video, digital presentations and cutting-edge sound systems accompanying key pieces from the likes of Burberry Prosum, Tom Ford and Nicole Farhi. Spectators at Oliver Spencer's catwalk show enjoyed a live DJ set from temporary model Wretch 32 who span his decks from the center of the catwalk.
Bloggers tweeted, instagrammed and wordpressed shots of bleached denim, smart tailoring and intricately-patterned slacks, whilst those who were unlucky enough not to attend observed via the British Fashion Council's live interactive stream online.
One thing that was glaringly apparent was that LCM had taken a leaf out of conspicuous LFW's book and put technology at the heart of its SS14 shows, allowing the wider public to interact with an event normally associated with short guestlists and guarded fashion secrets. The Menswear Committee, normally accessible only to those with a LCM press pass, were available in real-time for a 3 day Q&A session via twitter (#AskLCM). The public were encouraged to Tweet or Pin favourite outfits to a dedicated pinboard run by BFC, producing a crowd-sourced visual collection of British style at LCM.
Menswear designer Richard James hosted an instagram takeover of BFC's twitter account, posting his personal inspirations and preparation activities in the lead up to the show, providing a candid insight into the Oliver Cheshire's favourite street-style looks, catwalk looks and key moments from LCM. This access all areas experience showed how far social media has gone to enable the average fashion designer's metamorphosis from ivory tower dweller to direct brand engagement.
London Collections: Men in figures
A total of 134 designers participated at London Collections: Men SS14 in shows, presentations & events.
There were 30 shows (last season: 25); 22 presentations (last season: 20); 36 onsite showrooms (last season: 29)
3 official venues were used for London Collections: Men this season: The Hospital Club, The Old Sorting Office, and Victoria House, WC2.
International press from 30 countries and international buyers from 27 countries and buyers from over 17 countries attended the showcase in January 2013.
Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana and Dylan Jones, chair of London Collections: Men, will celebrate the opening of the fourth Dolce&Gabbana boutique in London with an event on Saturday 15th June to open the menswear season.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson hosted a show at London Collections: Men on Tuesday 18th June.
Mintel estimates the men's fashion market to have grown by 3.2% to £9.9 billion in 2011. Growth has been fuelled by a rise in the average selling prices of menswear. In addition, according to Mintel's research, the menswear market is anticipated to witness growth of 16% between 2011 and 2016. (Source: Mintel)
Men's items now represent 50 per cent of the luxury apparel market, helped in part by male consumers in emerging markets, especially Asia, with China a major source of growth. (Source: BFC Future of Fashion Report 2012. (Bain & Company's luxury goods worldwide market study, 10th Edition))
The notion that fashion and technology repel each other from opposite ends of the industrial spectrum is an outdated one, proves FIT's exhibition of the history of technological innovation in fashion. In fact, the catalyst of every notable fashion trend can be pinpointed almost directly to a progression or discovery in the world of science and technology.
Whether it may be the invention of the loom, the plastic zip or synthetic leathers, trends in the fashion world have often only been made possible by milestones in their production processes. Fashion and Technology, which finished last month, heralds these technological innovations from the past, as well as a few modern-day examples such as 3D printing.
"The Museum at FIT is a specialised fashion museum, focusing on new directions in fashion - including 3D printed textiles," says the museum's director and chief curator, Valerie Steele. "This technology has been in use for about 20 years in the mechanical engineering and the industrial design field for the creation of prototypes. However, Freedom of Creation's Janne Kyttänen and Jiri Evenhuis are the first designers to use the Rapid Prototyping technology to create textiles."
I took a look at some examples in the Fashion and Technology exhibit and picked out a few favourite innovations in the ever-colliding world of fashion and technology.
Afternoon dress, purple and black silk taffeta using synthetic aniline dye, 1860
The discovery of aniline dye in the 1800's allowed deeper and richer colours to be achieved, as seen in this afternoon dress of deep purple. The discovery of aniline dye led to it becoming a staple tool in the world of fashion. It's most common industrial use was as a precursor to indigo as a cake of dye, used in the mass production of 'indigo blue' denim.
Reversible furnishing fabric, 1890
New printing methods allowed quick production of more ornate fabrics. A new method of printing on both sides of the fabric was developed, allowing the material to become reversible. This made the fabric more durable and cost efficient, lasting longer as both sides could be used.
Acrylic Bag, 1936
Acrylic was introduced in 1930's as a durable and cheap fabric with a modern, space-age look featuring shiny, hard properties. These qualities, as well as it being a durable alternative to glass, made it a favourite with emerging fashion designers, but it took some time to create 3D shapes - such as this bag - from the material.
Apparel fabric, 1953
Discharge printing bleaches out the fabric to the natural, base colour of the fabric. New methods of discharge printing allowed designers to print colours one on top of the other allowing more complex patterns to be produced more quickly.
Heat Moulded Dress, Pierre Cardin, 1968
One of the godfathers of fashion, Pierre Cardin, loved to experiment with advanced materials, including a fabric called Cardine which is a form of Dynal. The designer moulded and heat-pressed the lower half of the dress into angular, sculptured pyramids from one piece of seamless material. This dress has inspired sculpted, modern-day lookalikes worn by the likes of Lady Gaga.
Green twill dress, Prada, 2008
Marking the trend of merging social media and fashion, this green printed dress from Prada was accompanied by a cutting-edge animated video. Bloggers, video-bloggers and online personality have become of invaluable importance to the fashion industry. This footage revealed the landscape of today's fashion marketing, promotion and branding, making video and media as much the centre point of a fashion-campaign as the garments themselves.
An attractive woman graces our cover, kitted out with internet-enabled glasses, Google Glass. We were particularly pleased with the graphic design of this special issue, but I must admit that when the printed issue landed on my desk earlier this month I couldn't stop staring at the model's Google Glass; and not for the right reasons.
For a creative brand that brightens users weekdays with aesthetically-pleasing, time-themed displays featuring the likes of Picasso, Australia Day and the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, I can't comprehend how Google has got the appearance of their 'modern window on the world' so wrong. As someone who sported Deirdre Barlow glasses from the tender age of two to adolescence, trust me when I say I have the authority to say; they're ugly.
Unfortunately, this is the problem associated with most of the products evolving from the wearable devices market; no one would ever actually want to wear them. Google is only one in a list of device developers whose intuition in this area seems to have fallen by the wayside: for consumers to want to buy a product they need to want to wear it first, particularly if it is to be worn on the face.
Margit Wennmachers, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley's most prominent venture capitals funders said, "We're very bullish on the idea of ubiquitous computing, which has been an idea our industry has had since the late 1980s. The essential idea is that computers will be everywhere - they'll be in your glasses, they'll be part of your clothing.
"We already see people bringing their smartphones with them everywhere and reaching for them first thing in the morning so we know people want a computer with them at all times - to help them figure what they need to do or where to go or how to get there or to learn more about the person they're about to meet with. Google Glass is just a less obtrusive, always there, always on extension of that same idea."
But he admits that technology embracing fashion has not had such a notable level of success as fashion embracing technology.
"I'm desperate for some fashion sensibility to enter tech. Over the last 20 years, I've looked at a lot of ugly stuff," said Wennmachers. "For the next wave of true merging of fashion and tech, we need more companies that have a culture that celebrates both, the technical and the design talent. You're already seeing this at companies like Jawbone, but we have a long way to go."
But there may be hope for Google Glass yet. Independent eyewear designer Warby Parker - creators of sophisticated, often vintage-look glasses - have reportedly been buttering Google up in an effort to collaborate on the next design stage of Google Glass. Hopefully the second wave will look less like the safety goggles favoured by school science labs.
Aside from entertainment, the fitness and health market remains one of the most lucrative for developers of wearable devices. But the current barrier to it becoming a truly successful market to exploit is also the medical industry's reputation in ugly design. In an industry where bestsellers are prosthetics, pacemakers and eye-patches, it's not difficult to work out how the industry has achieved this reputation.
In contrast, one sector that always seems to get wearable devices right on the money is the audio industry. One only has to remember the success of the iPod and the now largely defunct Creative ZEN to realise the reputation-building aspect of portable music players. And before that came the iconic Sony Walkman, a timeless and nostalgic symbol of cool.
In response to this, there is one company that is merging the street-cred of audio with the functionality and necessity of medical wearable devices. This is curious gadget company Jawbone, creator of fiercely-named audio headsets, fitness wristbands and portable speaker systems. Their slick, minimal designs - including 'Up' wristbands that track your fitness levels through your smartphone - are wearable devices that consumers actually want to wear.
In an effort to extend their grip on the burgeoning health-monitoring offshoot, Jawbone acquired wearable device company Bodymedia earlier this year. Bodymedia specialise in medical and fitness devices aimed at healthcare and fitness professionals who want to monitor the calorie loss, sleep levels and movement of their patients. In comparison to Jawbone's sleek offerings, Bodymedia's clunky, garishly patterned devices are much less attractive and are badly in need of a complete design overhaul; cue the rebranding of clever bodymedia products with Jawbone go-faster stripes.
But the aesthetics of a wearable device is not the only barrier to its success; also at top of the agenda is how it feels. First Warning Systems are a fledgling medical technology organisation that have gone one step further and integrated a health-monitoring procedure normally associated with intense discomfort into a device that can be worn with comfort on a daily basis.
Its smart bra resembles your average sports bra, but hidden inside are sixteen high-spec sensors that monitor the fluctuating temperature of breast tissue, symptoms which 90% of the time are linked to the irregular growth of new blood vessels and in turn, tumour growth. Anyone who has ever undergone mammogram testing due to current risk or a family history of breast cancer will testify it's a pretty nasty, and often completely innefective method. In this wearable device, First Warning Systems has essentially created a non-radiogenic, non-invasive, and non-toxic mammogram testing system inside a bra. Clever stuff.
Edited: 14 May 2013 at 04:04 PM by Abi Grogan
Created by fashion duo Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti, the dress was far from the first of its kind - 3D printing has been seen on the catwalk for over a decade - but the first fully articulated 3D-printed dress. This USP has allowed the duo to break new ground in technical fashion by producing a prototype that successfully melds two very opposing forms; technology and a woman's body.
Traditional 3D-printed garments are usually seen in the form of embellishment, woven into the fabric of an existing material which is then attached to the body. But the uniqueness of this design and its production was made fully apparent by its model Dita Von Teese: 'the body' for this generation as Elle McPhearson was for the generation before her. Von Teese is deservedly famous for her waspie-proportions, therefore her aesthetic-ideal waist, chest and hip measurements makes her body the perfect canvas to exhibit just how far 3D printing has come. A far cry from the stiff, immobile properties of traditional 3D-printed garments, Schmidt and Bitonti's thousand-component, Nylon-printed dress skims over Von Teese's curves thanks to the initial, accurate 3D modelling of her body prior to printing. The dress was assembled from 17 key pieces printed in nylon before it was dyed, embellished with 13,000 Swarovski crystals and fitted to Von Teese's body.
Accurate customisation is where 3D-printing can carve its niche in the fashion industry says the fashion duo's industrial partner and printer Shapeways. "This represents the possibility to 3D print complex, customized fabric like garments designed exactly to meet a specific person or need. As we see the material properties of 3D printing mature to produce more fine, flexible materials we will see more and more forays into fashion such as this. At first it is at the boundaries of haute couture and art but as we have seen with Nike using 3D printing in footwear, we will see more and more 3D printing creep into the world of clothing and fashion until it becomes ubiquitous."
So who are the forerunners to the Dita Von Teese dress? First to realise 3D printing's benefit to the textile world was an industrial engineer from Netherlands called Jiri Evenhuis back in 1990, who developed the first 3D-printed textile. He joined forces with fellow Dutch industrial designer Janne Kyttanen to produce the Drape Dress, the first 3D-printed dress that could be comfortably worn and which adapted to the movement of the human body. The duo then went on to produce the White Dress, a more sophisticated Couture piece borne from their original concept. The original Drape Dress is part of a permanent exhibition at MOMA in New York and is currently for sale online, a snip at $1999.00.
But fashion's most prolific 3D-print designer is unarguably Iris Van Herpen, who has infiltrated the catwalk with her 3D-printed futuristic designs since 2010. Van Herpen's foray into 3D-printing, which debuted in her 2010 Amsterdam Fashion Week show, consisted of a rather rigid, ivory structure that resembled a dried out crustacean bolted to the top half of a catwalk model. Her consequent collections - one of which she collaborated with sculptor Kris Kuski - all featured 3D-printing in a similar form: rigid, impractical, bone-like structures, touted as tops and skirts.
It wasn't until 2012 that Van Herpen began to exploit 3D-printing in a way that could inspire garments away from the catwalk. Famous for her partnerships with industry; including architects, chemists and technical artists, Van Herpen produced her collection 'Hybrid Holism' with help from responsive architect Philip Beesley, architect Julia Koerner and chemist Rachael Armstrong. She pioneered a new method of slice-by-slice 3D-printing for her collection called mammoth stereo lithography, which hardens the polymer solution using a laser beam. Her 'pythagoras tree' dress was printed in a transparent amber polymer and was described as 'liquid honey' by attendees of the show, garnering her respect of both fashion designers and technologists.
In January, Paris Fashion Week saw Ven Herpen's breakthrough in wearable 3D-print design, in the form of two pieces that contributed to her latest collection Voltage, inspired by the biomimicry of lightening. Voltage saw her collaborate again with Julia Koerner, and also with Neri Oxman of the MIT Media Lab, as well as Keren Oxman and Prof. Craig Carter of MIT with Stratasys. This collection showcased two wearable, flexible 3D-printed designs, the first of which was a gray cape and skirt twinset, and the second an intricately woven black shift-dress.
Neri Oxman, who collaborated with Van Herpen on the shift-dress said; "The ability to vary softness and elasticity inspired us to design a "second skin" for the body acting as armour-in-motion; in this way we were able to design not only the garment's form but also its motion. The incredible possibilities afforded by these new technologies allowed us to reinterpret the tradition of couture as "tech-couture" where delicate hand-made embroidery and needlework is replaced by code."
The dress was created using a process called laser sintering and represents the future of wearable 3D-printed fashion. Whilst she may not have attracted as much attention as Shapeway's celebrity-showcased design, Van Herpen is a niche designer who has quietly pioneered the craft of 3D-printing in fashion over the last half a decade. It is thanks to her brave and unwavering dedication to fashion and industry that there is bright future for 3D-printed textile design.
Edited: 14 May 2013 at 01:50 PM by Abi Grogan
Hailed as a way to educate the mediocre tastes of the mass market, this music recognition app has undermined the hard work of music connoisseurs everywhere, making obsolete the joy of finally discovering a track weeks after you've heard it played. For those who don't know, Shazam is a smartphone app that can identify and name a track whilst it is being played from an internal online database. Utilised in clubs, bars, gigs and even whilst clothes shopping, the app has opened up a new world of opportunity for people who love to download a track they've heard on the radio and play it over, and over again.
Now Shazam has a new trick up its sleeve. They're about to do the fashion world the incredible disservice they've done the music world, by creating an app that will identify clothing from a pre-determined bank of images sourced from highstreet, boutique and designer stores. So if you've ever smugly teamed a designer shirt, some vintage Church's and - shock horror - Primark pants together and managed to make it work in a way that people have asked you; "Love those trousers, where did you get them?" Then the answer can no longer be - "Oh these old things?" Shazam's new app will allow every discerning shopper the luxury of a private fashion spy in their smart phone.
Shazam say the app is meant to be used in the same way that people use celebrity copy-cat shopping websites such as ASOS.com (as seen on screen) giving even more precedence to celebrity culture, which is not a particularly encouraging concept in itself. But the difference with ASOS-concept sites is that ASOS design clothes that are inspired by celebrity clothing, not provide the exact replica.
Initially the app will only be able to tag clips from TV shows in the same way they can tag audio, in order to gain content on the show such as trivia, cast bios and merchandise. Whilst it's still only in fledgling stages of development, it's inevitable this app will open up the playing-field for other apps to develop image tagging, as seen in mydeco's furniture app.
"We have the ability to identify the product in a TV show so that when somebody Shazams it, they could find out where a presenter's dress is from in one click," explained CEO Andrew Fisher, "We are focused on creating a new category which we call media engagement. We make it easier for consumers to engage with a brand or a piece of content they are interested in, without having to go through search engines, then mining the results. That works with both TV programming and advertising: a 30-second slot can be turned into a three-minute brand engagement - and more."
Yet in reality, what the public will most likely use an of this app kind for is to rip of the outfit of those around them. Hilarious mental images are imagined of be-speckled hipsters running from fellow pedestrians, desperately attempting to scan their brogues on their iPhone. What this app will do is create an army of clones walking around in identical uniforms. A bit like Shoreditch on a Friday night.
But there is a solution that is sustainable as well as allowing you to avoid the radar of Shazam. Buy clothes far away from the all-seeing eye of consumer mouthpiece that is Shazaam and shop in vintage shops, markets, one-off boutiques and TK Maxx. Even Shazaam won't recognise TK Maxx, it'll be far too long out of season.
Edited: 14 May 2013 at 01:52 PM by Abi Grogan
But today we live in a world where we can redesign our entire living rooms from the comfort of our actual living rooms, thanks to apps including mydeco, brought to us by web-experts such as lastminute.comlastminute.com. So why should we not expect the same from our clothing, long considered to be the outward expressions of our inner personalities? The idea that 2.7billion people - the total number estimated to globally access the internet - should buy the same items of clothing from a narrow offering of high-street stores and designer boutiques seems a deluded notion in a world where individuality and an eye for style are considered prized social attributes.
Some online retailers such as Upper Street bespoke shoe design and Laudi Vidni accesories are attempting to harness the profit of customisation by cutting out the middle man - in this case the tailor - and are offering it online, either through apps or web-interfaces. These ventures range from basic concepts such as colour and fabric options, to an entire design-commission experience from your laptop. And what's more, you don't need to download any add-on software, with most running on flash or HTML5.
United Styles is a basic fashion-customisation website which offers a range of basic, smart casual designs and allows you choose the colour, fit and pattern based on your unique measurements. The benefit of using this service is it allows you to overcome the sticking point of buying high-street clothing: a one-fits all approach that doesn't take into account the height, build or proportions of its unique customers. United Styles even provides an aftercare courtesy call to quiz you over your measurement preferences to ensure your item fits perfectly. For example if you have a long torso and prefer an extra inch in the length of a shirt, United Styles can ensure your design encompasses this. For evening and occasion wear Olivia Luca offers a similar service which they refer to as the 'dressing room', allowing consumers to choose from neck shape, length, colour, finish and fabric from a range of online swatches.
Although in theory this is a good way to ensure no 'same-outfit' encounters, the options provided by these online outlets is surprisingly uninspired. The colour ways provided are flat and not particularly extensive, and the patterns on offer play it very safe, resulting in a penultimate creation that looks like it could have purchased from Topshop. The visualisation on these sites also leaves much to be desired, your 'design' is essentially an illustration filled in with flat colours; nothing that couldn't be achieved relatively easily in Photoshop. The other sticking point is the price. A dress from Olivia Lucia can set you back almost $900, whilst a simple t-shirt from United Styles s $79, a hefty price considering you can't view the quality of the fabric or even the genuine colour of your design.
Continuum Fashion however offers a slightly different vision of creative fashion. Architect Jemma Fizel and Textile Specialist Mary Huang are a fashion duo who creates customisation applications for a digital age. Their customised design application CONSTRVCT is the epitome of digital bespoke, allowing users to create custom-made garments from photographs, patterns or illustrations uploaded in hi-res by the consumers. Using precise measurements, a 3D model is created, which then goes through a parametric sizing system influenced by animation and industrial design techniques. The textile is then printed onto the plain fabric cut-out pattern, using a textile-friendly, inkjet printer. Their venture was funded entirely by crowd sourcing, and the reason for its popularity is down to their approach of merging both traditional and modern craft, specialising high-tech designs in runs of one.
Fizel says of their unique approach: "My background is in cladding for crazy curvy buildings, so I am used to using a lot of coding to make reasonably manufacturable shapes. We really try to rethink how textiles are created and make high quality things that everyone can have ownership of."
The company's' strapline is 'We seek to capture the collective creativity of our generation', and creative their applications certainly are. Following the long reign of structured dresses at fashion weeks around the world, the duo have created an app called D : Dress which allows users to design their own ambitiously structured dress using a system of triangles that can be manipulated over a virtual manikin. When your abstract shape has been created to your liking it is combined with your specific measurements and 3D modelled to produce a dress that resembles your design as closely as gravity will allow.
The uniqueness of all of these services is that it they take advantage of the accessibility of the web, interactive software and rapid prototyping to produce an almost haute-couture piece that you can ensure no one else will be wearing.
3D printing is cropping up in every industry within often questionable applications. Cakes, scans of unborn foetuses and even body parts were squeezed out of 3D printers at trade shows such as the 3D Printshow in London last year. But for one industry that has been utilising 3D printing for decades, the technology has begun to spawn projects that could provide a well-needed visual platform for small-scale designers and manufacturers.
Much like automotive manufacturers who have used 3D printing to rapid prototype components for decades, big players in the fashion industry have taken advantage of this technology to prototype new models of footwear before wide scale manufacturing takes place to fill demand. This has meant that small-scale footwear designers are often priced out of the market; if they are unable to produce even a sample selection of their proposed collection they are unlikely to receive exposure at the prestigious fashion weeks across the globe, meaning wide-scale manufacture of their projects was an unobtainable ambition, until now.
Bryan Oknyansky is an architect-cum-shoe-designer who made the transition from cities to shoes two years ago when he realised shoe-design would allow him to experiment with new technologies and materials whilst furthering his architect career. His avant-garde designs of sky-high heels merge cutting edge digital design and manufacturing technologies and have allowed him to produce two collections, one in metal and one in biodegradable plastic.
He uses a 3D printer loaned to him, by partner 3D Systems to produce small batches of PLA-printed heels that can be finger-print tailored to the wearer's foot, eradicating fit-related accidents and injuries. He says that the falling prices of 3D printers will open up the industry to innovative new designers who were not previously able to showcase their designs in the flesh.
To read the full interview with Bryan Oknyansky, please visit here.
Edited: 18 February 2013 at 03:25 PM by Abi Grogan
Always considered a women's game, the likes of the metrosexual David Beckham and his kin have finally signed the seal of approval for men globally to take pride in their appearance. Whether through sharp tailoring, religious beauty and skincare regimes or investing in a smart pair of vintage wingtips, men have finally begun to embrace fashion like never before. Dylan Jones, Editor of GQ and head of men's fashion week in London which took place earlier this month, says it represents the only real area of growth for the fashion industry.
He said, "If you look at the economy, menswear is the only part of the industry which is really growing by a substantial percentage."
So why this shift in interest, and what are the fashion industry doing to attract and maintain interest from their male market? Whilst the acceptance and encouragement of the metrosexual man is partially responsible for this change, the fashion industry is also upping it's game and exploiting the one thing that the reluctant gap in their market worships above sport and a cheeky pint after work; technology.
Topman tipped the trend in its show at men's fashion week this month through its innovative use of the retail industry's top new marketing tool - augmented reality. Their #Topman360 show allowed viewers online to watch the catwalk show live on 360 cameras, and integrated a live feed from twitter allowing viewers to interact directly with the front row.
Viewers could scroll up and down and left and right, much like a fashion-led google maps. Viewers can use photographing features to share images via integrated social network platforms including a facebook app developed especially for the event.
Although the technology itself is not revolutionary, what is is the unparalleled access to a live fashion show, which is normally off limits to those without a London Fashion Week invitation. This use of technology makes it more accessible to men in a format they are familiar with; most viewers are likely to have streamed sports events through their laptop on a regular basis.
Jason Griffiths, Marketing Director at Topman said: "Having streamed the Topman Design show for several seasons now and commenting separately via our social channels we really wanted to try and achieve a multi-faceted live stream experience which amalgamated all in one and make the experience as personal and unique for each viewer - we are excited to be working with TBG and look forward to where this could lead in June for the next instalment of Topman Design at London Collections:Men."
Topman have worked alongside TBG Digital to create this the unique experience. TBG Creative Director Ian Cassidy said, "This is a brave campaign in partnership with a brave client. We have seven minutes in which to engage, inform, and inspire the audience - no mean feat, and something only feasible due to TBG's unique full-service mix of media technology and award-winning creative."
For more information visit: http://topman360.com/
During my morning commute through London, I recently noticed a patch of recently excavated pavement, a commonplace feature in the capital which always seems to be in a constant state of construction or deconstruction. The dug-up pavement marked the shadow of a totem-pole of lights that had previously occupied the space, indicating the centre of Shoreditch or 'silicon roundabout' as it is known in the tech-community, with roughly eight transparent tiles set into the ground in front of it. The light on this totem-pole had once been powered by kinetic energy - as pedestrians pounded the pavement the transparent panels vibrated, applying direct pressure onto a set of springs set below the surface of the pavement. The movement is then converted into electricity, powering the set of lights via a renewable and infinite source of energy.
Although Shoreditch's dusk-hour public-lamp is now long gone - along with many of the other street installations that appeared and disappeared overnight during the Olympic Games - fashion designers are now adopting the concept of self-generating renewable energy, integrating kinetic control systems seamlessly beneath the exterior fabric of garments. Argentinean designer Soledad Martin spotted value in the dead energy generated by skateboarding teenagers, and exploited it by integrating a kinetic energy harvester to the tongue of a regular trainer. The energy stored by the device is released via a charger to the wearer's mobile phone, creating a portable renewable power source.
Whilst the technology is hardly new, it's adaptation lies in improving its wearability by scaling down the components, progress that is prompting the engagement of modern fashion designers, marking the technology's transition from lab to catwalk. Rafeal Razenkrab is harnessing the energy generated by joggers in his concept for a sportswear line that will power your iPod during your workout. A small detachable kinetic motor supplies the power for the mp3 player which is controlled by buttons integrated into a plastic skin. Whilst some of his designs could be perceived as slightly outlandish, the collection highlights a determined move from engineering concept to couture design.
More importantly, it is British wool, in the fashion of a new-born lamb, that is shakily finding its way back onto the catwalk. Whether manufactured and assembled in the UK or jumping from the pages of young fashion student's dissertation projects, British wool is firmly putting itself back on the map.
Steering the helm of this comeback is none other than Peter Ackroyd, commercial advisor for Woolmark; ambassador of all things woolly and figurehead for recent campaigns launched at the Fashion Archive in Yorkshire. It may seem odd that Woolmark; a peddler of Australian grown Merino wool as a premium textile, would support such a British-led project so prominently. Merino wool is after all sheared from the backs of Australian sheep and shipped to the UK, securing the preference of designers over wool produced by our own coarser highland breeds. But Merino wool is currently the most versatile, light and breathable pure wool fabric, and is considered a British product once it leaves British factories spun, knitted and assembled.
With Diane von Furstenberg, Victoria Beckham and Paula Reed (Creative Director Harvey Nichols) manning the judging panel at this year's International Woolmark Prize it seems wool has finally managed to shrug off its stuffy image of cable-knit sweaters and itchy fairisle (though even these garments are experiencing a recent revival thanks to popularity of Scandinavian television series such as the Killing) The Prize is used by the industry as a vessel by help promote outstanding design talent from across the world, through their innovative use of the fibre and has helped to launch many young fashion designer's careers. Sophie Theallet from the US, Christian Wijnants from Belgium, Ban Xiao Xiu from China, Dion Lee from Australia, Pankaj and Nidhi from India and DRESSEDUNDRESSED from Japan represent the line-up for the final round of the International Woolmark Prize to be held in London in February 2013.
Many fashion houses are experimenting with innovative new finishes, weaves and blends made possible by the fabric's durability and flexibility. The Yorkshire Fashion Archive recently teamed up with Leeds University to launch Wool: Refashioned in Saltaire, historic home to the UK's wool trade. This was an exciting collaboration that saw students redesigning historic woollen garments donated by the public, using modern manufacturing processes and finishes.
The collaboration produced pertinent wool-based designs that would not look out of place at London Fashion Week, including a pleated re-work with luminous orange leather trim adorning a laser-cut flower fabric, which was so finely spun it resembled silk. The benefits of using such a blend are versatility and strength; if actual silk were laser-cut so densely it would fall to pieces. The student who designed this piece, Phillipa Richardson, has used the exhibition as a springboard to intern with fashion house Alice Temperley.
Patron of the Yorkshire Fashion Archive is Burberry design legend Christopher Bailey, who recently spoke of his concerns with the fashion industry's "mono-city culture" outlook, one that credits London, Milan and Paris with the success of the fashion industry as a whole. He called for the recognition of the unsung heroes of the industry, the machine builders, operators, engineers and fabric manufacturers inhabiting less glamorous regions such as Saltaire and beyond. For the full report on the revival of the British manufacturing in regards to the wool industry, including manufacturing techniques and new technology, please follow this link
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