Did the phrase “hot” ever spring to mind as you eyed that curvaceous bikini-babe, or that handsome muscular hunk, depending on your preferences? Well, now technology and design are bringing that thought to life!
This is the lighter side of FashTech, the glittering expo in Milan where latest trends in the melding of fashion design and technology are on display.
Yes, there really is a solar-powered bikini, designed to power up your mobile or MP3 player as you sizzle in the sun. And while it has caused waves, ranging from the (inappropriate) ‘cool!’ to ‘a mockery of serious technology’, it’s only a drop in the ocean of what is a serious new trend shaping the future of fashion. A trend that is poised to impact on high street stores.
The smart-clothing industry is rapidly becoming a multi-billion dollar business – and bringing jobs back to countries like Belgium and Holland. Well, at least on the high-tech design side. Bulk manufacturing still goes to the cheapest producers. Interestingly, that’s increasingly countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, as wage pressure in China continues to spiral costs.
Among the more serious designs on display is a range of clothing for the physically disabled, enabling them to communicate and interact with their environment through a variety of inbuilt smart interfaces. “This is a godsend, reconnecting people with society who were previously isolated by their disabilities,” says Belgian designer Hazel Blom.
The darker side of the exhibition is the ‘security mall’ – aisle after aisle of clothing designed for the military and security industries. Like a cammo suit with built in laser gun sights and power lifters for arms and legs. Booyaah!
But one of the most visited stands is the RealTime Bra-Bar, where design-house Continuum Fashion uses 3D printing to scan and manufacture custom-fitted bras on site. “It’s the most comfortable bra I have ever worn,” says one happy just-scanned customer.