We live in a digital world, and technology now permeates every aspect of modern life. From the way we communicate and do business to the way we entertain ourselves and monitor our health, consumer technology has grown in leaps and bounds over the last two decades. Smartphones are the biggest and most obvious contribution of technology to everyday life, but it would be hard to deny there are few elements of modern human existence that do not involve some level of high-tech gadgetry.
However, one area in which technology has seemingly had trouble integrating into is fashion. But now it only makes sense that we begin to wear the technology we constantly use, and the line between the fashion industry and consumer technology is beginning to blur.
The first breakthrough between the two fields was the increasingly popular smartwatch, and the use of an Apple or Samsung watch can make life more convenient by removing one step (the act of pulling your phone from your pocket) from common actions of everyday life.
Now, giants of both industries are putting their heads together to develop some truly mind-blowing new fashion concepts and designs. Google, Amazon and Apple are contributing the same digital knowhow that revolutionized modern life, and companies like Levi’s, Nike and Adidas are combining this with fashionable and (somewhat) functional designs. A few of the most interesting and exciting concepts include:
For several years now, Google has been working to develop new smart fabrics that can recognize human movements and utilize gestures from our clothing to control our smartphones and other devices. Their Advanced Technologies and Products (ATAP) department has partnered with Levi’s to put this fabric to use.
The recently released denim commuter jacket has 15 threads within the sleeve of the garment that can recognize certain movements to perform actions on your smartphone such as answering calls, playing music or checking the time.
One potentially revolutionary breakthrough involves the utilization of 3D printing techniques to make clothing and shoes. Adidas is currently leading the way with this concept, using 3D printing in their new FutureCraft line to print custom shoes that fit a consumer’s foot perfectly.
While 3D printed shoes may seem a bit gimmicky on the surface, it shows the immense potential that this technique can have for customizable clothing. In the future, you may simply order the design and characteristics of your clothing directly from the designer and print the clothes for yourself. This is obviously not going to happen anytime soon, but it is likely to be the future of fashion.
Practical Fashion Technology
As of now, most of the more advanced combinations of technology and fashion are:
- Still in early development
- Worn only by high-fashion models or socialites
So the question remains, is it realistic to believe your technology and clothing can successfully coexist as of now? The answer is yes, but the combination of the two should happen gradually. You should not immediately go shopping for the Levi’s jacket and order 3D printed shoes.
In a practical sense, for everyday people, digital technology is still creeping into our fashion as accessories. Smartwatches are still the most stylish and practical elements of this combination for the everyday person. Colorful, hip headphones are also one of the more common tech gadgets that can be utilized in a fashionable way, and they are growing in popularity. Just as importantly, as these types of digital accessories become more common, the prices will continue to go down.
However, there are other ways in which technology is permeating the fashion industry and culture. Increasingly common fashion blogs, innovative digital fitting rooms and all of the constant improvements to online clothing shopping are helping consumers identify, locate and identify the hottest trends in old-fashioned, non-digital clothing that are still the fashion of today.