Wearable Tech, New Perspectives in Fashion

It is at the borders that some of the most interesting problems reside.
Eric R. Kandel, In Search of Memory*

The presentation of a smart bracelet, MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) by Opening Ceremony and Intel on New York Fashion Week this year has demonstrated how deep technology is penetrating fashion world.

Wearables are a commonplace now and this event just confirmed our world’s obsession with both tech and fashion.

“It’s as intelligent as it is well-designed” — OC creative director Humberto Leon commented about smart bracelet MICA.

Fashion and biology. New fabrics

Remember that much-talked-of Lady Gaga’s meat dress? As shocking is it is, the idea of using animals for clothing is known for centuries (leather, silk and wool) while being condemned by animal rights groups along the way.

There is a new trend, however, that definitely looks more interesting and more ethical in some respect. The fabric made from bacteria.

Scientists from Biofabricate use bacteria and yeast to grow new fabric-like materials.

Biofabrication comprises highly disruptive technologies enabling design and manufacture to intersect with the building blocks of life.

Here is small video giving the idea of the company’s recent achievements:

A dress from green tea or a top from wine? Donna Franklin and Gary Cass made dresses out of beer and wine bacteria while using colourful fungi as dyers.

No doubt fungi could be very colourful indeed! I myself always fascinated by their colours and textures.

Colourful fungi are used as dye in new type of fabrics
Colourful fungi are used as dye in new type of fabrics

Will we be able to grow a wardrobe for ourselves soon? 3D-growing sounds like a fascinating idea – a unique organic dress grown just for you, no seams, no stitching, natural fabric, compostable.

Fashion and energy. Wearable solar station

Invention of flexible solar cells that could be woven into fabric opens great possibilities in off-grid situations.

Project leader of Wearable Solar Christiaan Holland was driven by his love of music festivals and aspiration to stay connected with his friends during events. At Wearable Solar he and his team put these ideas into life, designing fashionable clothes form solar powered fabrics.

We also see huge possibility for using solar fabrics for tourist wear and gear. Bushwalkers and travellers sometimes have to stay in a wild with no power source; it will be pretty cool to not worry about laptop and camera charge levels. A nice solar powered wind shell or tent will be a perfect solution!

Fashion and medicine. Taking care of your health

This is probably the field where fashion and tech have had the longest and most fruitful relationship over the past few years.

Smart bracelets, wrist bands and watches with biosensors that measure heart beat rate, blood pressure and calorie burn are as usual as ordinary jewellery.

The co-founder of biosensing technology company Valencell believes that ear is the best place to collect vital signs. The LG and Jabra are also following the same route.

Though LG’s Heart Rate Headphones was not released in Australia, Jabra offers a wireless in-ear fitness headphone that gives more accurate than wrist sensors data along with DDP sound.

Tech footwear

The second much developed field of tech and fashion union is footwear.

Here the collaboration mainly moves along two paths.

  • First leads to increasing in comfort and improvements in performance of the footwear. Think of smart technologies and fabrics Nike uses in their sports footwear.

  • Moticon is in this category as well. It is the world’s first fully integrated sensor insole. Wireless technology allows the foot pressure and motion parameters to be monitored easily which has direct benefits in rehabilitation and sports.

  • The second path adds speed to ordinary footwear.
  • It starts with skates, we knew.

    ACTON R RocketSkates™ , a Kickstarter’s project introduces battery-powered skates or the world’s first smart wearable transportation as stated on the web site.

    I see it as sophisticated combination of Heelys or roller skates and Segway.

    The RocketSkates™ use motion sensors and doesn’t require a remote to operate!

    Looking forward the heels-friendly version.

    Time for changes?

    It is obvious, that wearable technology is a hot commodity. Fashion and technology becoming strongly fused with every new development coming out. It is not just about looks anymore, but elegant performance and precise control as well.

    The key element of marrying fashion and science is and will be still to find an optimal balance between fashion itself and technology it incorporates. Make wearable tech fashionable, stylish and desirable.

    Is the time came finally for a new discipline which will integrate fashion and technology?

    *Eric Kandel is a neuroscientist who won Nobel Prize for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in brain cells.

    How to Wear Crop Tops

    Crop tops are not going to lose their ground in the next season. Runways of ready-to-wear Spring 2015 fashion weeks are the best proof of that.

    From New York to Tokyo this ultimately popular piece is presented in great variety of cuts from revealing bralets and miniature bandeaus from Moschino and Diesel Black Gold to modest tops from Carolina Herrera.

    In this post I summarize the way designers suggest to wear crop tops for the upcoming season.

    First, let’s have a look what cuts and styles of crop tops are in trend and also pay attention to colour and prints.

    Colour and cut

    Trend 1. Keep it simple and modest.
    Plain colours and clean cut – are keywords for styling crop tops.

    Look for box shaped tops either with short, ¾ sleeves or sleeveless. Colours: white, black, pastels, rich jewellery or deep earthy tones.

    On the picture below flats of catwalk models can give you a hint what to look for. There are also some similar models from selected retailers just to illustrate the idea.

    Crop top trend, clear cut and plain colours.
    Zalora Jacquard TeeLIFEwithBIRD EllenaTopLuxury Fashion TopEmma Cook Top

    Trend 2. For those who prefer more skimpy clothing and convinced that crop tops are made for revealing not hiding buzz words are cut outs and bralets.

    By the way, despite of apparent simplisity bralets possess more intricate cut than crop tops. Darts and reliefs here are used far beyond utilitarian reasons and make statement on their own. It is fascinating how intricate the cut could became with 3D modelling and advanced manufacturing technologies.

    Crop top trend, cut outs and bralets.
    Bad Girl topJosh Goot Cut-Out HarnessTalulah Crop Top Bardot Spotted Crop Top

    Trend 3. In between of extremes of two said trends lies more subtle approach – transparency. Sheer fabrics and laces neither hide nor reveal giving full play to the sartorial manoeuvres.

    Crop top trend, transparent and lace cropped top
    Three of Something TopLove Libra TopAtmos&Here Crop topAngel Biba Seduce Top

    Well, we have sorted out what kind of crop tops are in trend now and finally came to the main question – How to wear them in the upcoming season?

    Though ready-to-wear catwalks had shown crop tops with quite variety of bottoms, skirts are far more often the choice rather than, say, shorts or pants.

    Crop tops with skirts

    Waist line. Natural or high waist line.
    Length. Popular lengths are mini, over and under the knee and maxi.
    Style. A-line, pencil skirt, flared, pleated. The last two generally teamed with fitted tops to balance proportions.

    Crop tops with pants

    Waist line. For pants waist line rise is more democratic and varies from low through natural to high waist line.
    Length. Length of pants for crop tops depends greatly on cut and silhouette. It could be ankle, 7/8 or full length.
    Style. Culottes, tapered, flared, straight.

    Here it is the quintessence of the above.

    Crop top trend, how to wear crop top with skirt, how to wear cropped top with pants, shorts
    1.Paul Smith pants2.Backstage Pants3.Nicholas Skirt4.White Suede Pencil Skirt5.Alexander Wang Skirt6.Nina Ricci Skirt

    It is all coming together now, isn’t it? Surprising or not, but there a logic in what retalers are stocking up for the next season and with a little breakdown world of fashion is not that random any more.

    For the complete collection of crop tops from Spring 2015 Ready-to-Wear shows check my Pinterest board

    You may also like to read about:
    Basic Principles of an Outfit Layout: Focal Point
    Connecting Dots. The Importance of Intermediary in an Outfit

    How to Improve Your Fashion Illustrations

    Huge colourful fashion drawings laying around on big white tables in the best design studios with your initials in the corner. Who did not have this thought flashing by while starting up on their next masterpiece? Great looking works definitely enhance portfolio of any artist and gets the focus on the main part, the idea. The path to get there is simple — practice. Here are some suggestions on how to get to that next level.

  • Pose. Make sure, that pose of the model you draw reflects the mood of the garment, or a subject of the drawing if it is fashion illustration. For example, intricate and exaggerated poses rarely appropriate for demonstrating an office wear. But they are a must with evening or club wear. Poses that are too static or generic make ideas look ordinary.
  • photo with pencil hands drawing, fashion drawing, and words pactice makes it better

  • Hands. This is always a tough part. I myself spent hours mastering hands drawing but still not satisfied with the result. It takes a lot of practice to get better. Correctly drawn hands make drawing look much more professional, help to express mood and enhance perception.

    Thankfully for me and anyone out there looking to improve there is a wonderful tutorial by Mike Koizumi. It is a step by step explanation of how to draw hand from different points of view. Moreover, it provides a nice tip on how to draw a hand from every imaginable angle.

    For more in-depth knowledge of hand’s anatomy, the ways they can help to express the mood, emotions and meaning of fashion illustration or fashion collection I suggest to read the classic book Drawing Dynamic Hands by Burne Hogarth. This is the most comprehensive book ever published on drawing hands, definitely must read!

  • Cover of Drawing Dynamioc Hands by Burne Hogarth
    Drawing Dynamic Hands by Burne Hogarth

  • Face. Our brain is trained by evolution to recognize faces. We pay huge attention to facial expressions and features. So just a hint of eyes, nose and mouth could make your drawing more live and pleasant to look at.
    Check this post by concept artist Xia Taptara for really good examples on how to draw female faces. It starts from basics, so it is easy to follow.

  • Style. It is what makes your drawing unique and it takes time to find it. Some authors recommend to begin drawing with classical 8-heads figures. Others suggest that copying different styles may help to find your own. I am sure that both paths will certainly lead to improvement of drawing skills and will help to find the best way to express your ideas. Get the basics right and then start experimenting.
    Here is a fantastic video from Sycra Yasin showing on example that with persistence and a bit of a talent you can chose to draw in a style you like (or few of them):

  • Background. It is surprising how just a few strokes outlining a ground or a shadow could add volume to a figure and separate it from the background. Try it and see yourself.

  • Gym and museum. Interesting pair, but no kidding. Going to the gym will enhance your anatomy knowledge. Working on your body will give you the notion of muscles layout and body movement range to draw figures correctly. And in any case you will still have nice side effects – improved fitness and more positive energy so needed for any artist. As for museums, the more you explore other artists’ ideas and works the more inspiration and food for thought you would have in your own attempts. Classic, contemporary, street art — all adds up to your style.

  • You may also like to read about:
    Top 5 Fashion Illustration Books
    Fashion Portfolio: Design and Presentation by Anna Kiper