As fashion week is underway in NY, a new generation of fashion technologists emerged last week at the “Seamless: Computational Couture” fashion show in Boston. The show featured the works by the students of MIT, RISD, Parsons, and NYU. Where else can you find a scarf that hugs you back (taptap), a space dress, and the blogger hoodie? I got a chance to talk to the show’s producers for an exclusive recap of the event and their take on technology’s future in fashion.
Here’s a recap of the Seamless Fashion Show from the producers, Christine Liu and Nick Knouf.
(There is also a third producer Lisa Monrose who was wrapping things up post-show and was unable to respond. She sends her regards to the MAKE audience.)
I also posed this daunting question…
“How is the perception of the convergence of fashion and technology changing these days?”
Nick (firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.zeitkunst.org)
As for the perception of fashion and technology, you have the beginnings of mass-market integration with iPods in belts, iPod jackets, and so on. Yet all of those garments or accessories revolve around an existing object that doesn’t need to be merged with clothing in order to function. What I think we’ll see in a few short years are clothes that use new materials and technologies (such as conductive threads and rubbers) to make clothes in which the technology is an essential part of the garment, and not simply an afterthought. With that said, we still have not come up with the “killer-app” of computationally-infused clothing. Much thought, research, and development still has to happen in order to create garments that not only seamlessly (pardon the pun) combine the technology with the garment, but do so in a way that is interesting and meaningful to the wearer. It’s not that people’s perceptions of fashion and technology have to change per se; rather, the technology and the application must be compelling enough, and designed well- enough, such that the garments still look like clothes and the application is interesting, relevant, and useful.
Christine (email@example.com, http://cmliu.blogspot.com):
Last year, Nick and I had the brilliant idea of putting on a technological fashion show. Never mind that we had no idea how to put on such a production, much less sew. However, the drive to put on the show carried us through, since we knew so many talented designers and engineers creating amazing fashion objects that, for the most part, were conducted as passionate side projects and posted on a website somewhere. We felt that clothing, by definition, can only be fully understood when it is worn on the body. you see the dimensions of movement, life, society, and culture all come together when you incorporate the human element. So one of the primary purposes of Seamless was to showcase the works of students and young independent designers within a very public and fun (and glamourous, at times) event. Another purpose was to display technological clothing that were more than just “information at your fingertips” or brute augmentation of the human body by slapping on sensors and screens.
Fashion is a complicated thing. seamless aims to explore that complexity within the framework of clothing technology.
In 2005, our show was super grassroots, kept afloat by funds by the council of the arts @ MIT and the MIT Media Lab. However, design, production, and publicity were mostly done by the generosity of fellow students. It was held at the MIT Media Lab, with 17 designers, an astroturf runway, and a fab armada of pierced tattooed models. We were so surprised to see the place busting with over 200 people. It was extremely rewarding, and superfun!
Afterwards, we got into discussion with the museum of science, who was really psyched into doing a second go-around. it was different, in that we were dealing with a huge institution with their own set of people and rules, and we had a different set of resources and limitations. as you can see from the pictures, with the museum we got a great space, an elevated runway, and much more professional production and coordination. Plus, we really opened it out to the broader Boston community. The 2006 show was similar to last year in that the crew of designers, models, and behind-the-scenes were fabulous to work with, really down-to-earth, great people with amazing ideas. we sold out the space a week before the event, and had overflow as well. Perhaps an estimate of 450 attendees? Who knows what next year will bring!