When considering the question: what is the future of fashion? We need to consider who will be driving and shaping that future. If we are looking solely at the product, I believe that the future of fashion lies in the joint hands of both designers and engineers.
The future of FashionTech is science fiction. But the future of fashion won’t look like science fiction. We might have wires plugging us in to everything everywhere now, but, developing as an instinctive counter-coup, there is a strong desire to return to the earth and return to natural materials, the organic.
Rather than seeking a futuristic aesthetic in order to be modern, the real challenge is to seek modernity through timelessness.
When cyclical processes get stuck in their own churning motion, all that comes out is an indistinguishable blend. We need more cross-disciplinary product development in the fashion industry at all levels.
Collaboration, discussion, conversation, disagreement, experimentation: these are the tools of innovation. To have a designer express the desired aesthetic result, and the engineer who explains the possibilities or how one might achieve that desired result.
This conversation is critical to the mergence of fashion & technology, and to the future of fashion design.
Both the engineer and the designer think in the future, but in a different way. It’s a different kind of prediction because it requires a different time line, a different kind of experimentation and a different business model. Not to mention that it is directed towards a different audience.
But in fact, the most effective technology in fashion will be the technology that is invisible. This is where the engineer needs the designer: to package the innovation in a way that is usable/wearable/saleable. We need technology that applies to our everyday lives and not as a novelty, but as a necessity.
When I look into fashion’s future, I see data integrated and sensors woven into our fabrics and clothing connected to the cloud in a way that our cell phones now are indispensable.
But what will the purpose be?
I am not a data driven person. If I imagine how wearbles could enhance my life as of today, I cannot see it. What will be the proposition that makes me reevaluate that stance?
First we have to think about what we want out of our clothing and accessories and make sure that the evolution fits into those criteria. What do I want from my clothing more than comfort and style and quality? These are the three simple things that I need.
The conversation should begin where technology can improve on style or quality or comfort. By enhancing function we can enhance comfort, but it should not need to be at the expense of style or quality. This applies to all three approaches.
If we want for technology to improve the capabilities of fashion designers and to expand the possibilities of fashion, we need the collaboration and input of those who understand, and invent those technologies. The imagination of a designer plus the imagination of an engineer multiplied by their collective force.
If there is a bright future in fashion, it is through technology and that means not only wires and connectivity and data, but also a new way of thinking. It’s cross-disciplinary not only in marketing efforts but in product development.
After an inspiring and informative Fashion & Tech week in Paris where many more challenging questions were posed than answers given, I’m optimistic about the joining of these two communities and only hope that the few translators who can tread in both waters will turn into many.