Where does technology fit in the world of fashion?

Where does technology lie within fashion? Can it even have a place among what is essentially just fabric? ashion has created a crazy community. The people within it obsess over the new and the old, whilst idolising its moments; take for example the Met Gala, the Super Bowl of Fashion.

In 2016, the Met’s theme was “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”, but what does this really mean? Designers were geared to focus on the dichotomy between handmade and machine-made fashion, but surely technology could mean something else entirely. Designer, Zac Posen, designed an incredible Cinderella-inspired dress that literally lit up the red carpet. Fibre optics were used to achieve this effect, but could this be used off the red carpet?  Water-activated lights are already used for life-vests, but what else? Fashion technology companies are leading with these exact questions. In an article for Forbes magazine, Hadari Oshri, CEO of Xehar Technologies claims, “roots of what will be the future of fashion are already growing with artificial intelligence”. She states that the market right now has been split into a dumbbell; high-end fashion on one side and fast fashion on the other, with very little in between. Even Zac Posen’s revered fashion brand is being shut down due to poor financial outcome; it seems technology is now vital for sustaining fashion. 

            We can see technology beginning to support companies on the marketing and branding side, but there’s also a rise in it being used for the composition of our clothing. Textile engineers are creating new fibers for sporting performances, automotive industries and even nano-composite materials for deep-space exploration. Engineers are looking at remaking and improving materials, and this is bleeding into the fashion industry. Sportswear is changing, our clothing is becoming more protective to things we can’t see, and although not as apparent as the sci-fi outfits seen on the Met Gala red carpet, technology is changing every aspect of clothing. Tommy Hilfiger released Tommy Adaptive, an adaptive designer clothing brand for people with disabilities. With innovative design, they managed to incorporate new technology to facilitate putting on clothes and allowing more independence for the disabled. This is a very real example of how technology is improving the fashion industry, and making it more inclusive.

2015 marked the start of a new method of producing clothes; 3D printing. Designer Danit Peleg introduced her project that allowed fashionistas to design and print their clothing in the comfort of their homes. With this technology, she showcased her modern new look. Featuring geometric shapes and frequent cutouts, her style rings in a fresh look for the future. Her goal is to take 3D printed fashion off the runway and into people’s lives. She has succeeded in doing this by introducing the first such garment available for purchase. It’s $1500, but it’s still a step in the right direction, since 3D printing is also an advocate for more eco-friendly fashion as it bypasses the negative impact of the manufacturing industry on the environment.

            In 2019, Zendaya definitely embraced technology’s position within fashion. Her dress glowed and moved, creating a piece of walking art. Is this perhaps the future of haute couture? Will we move towards an era where celebrities flaunt independently moving clothes? And would this then spread into the fast fashion industry that is so inspired by these wonderful works of art? The future of technology in fashion is only just starting to blossom. It has a foot in design, in composition, and in the business that backs it up. Our world is becoming increasingly more technologically capable and dependent, why shouldn’t fashion follow suit?