Can technology help fashion bring order?

Chemical waste, mass production and consumerism are all byproducts of an industrialized global economy.

It's no different in the style industry. Technology has helped the industry meet growing demand by making production more efficient. But massive overproduction – driven by fast fashion’s demand for brand new styles – has led to this plenty of additional problems: Increased chemical waste during production, in addition to hundreds of tons of waste from worn, discarded or donated clothing.

The clothing giant H&M has a world clothing collection initiative – Receiving used clothing and offering discounts in exchange for donations – but there are signs that even clothing Recycling efforts cannot sustain with clothing production. And although many firms use biodegradable materials, the price of recycling such a great amount may end up in using cheaper, synthetic material alternatives which are harmful to the environment.

However, fashion designers are actually using technology to create latest, environmentally conscious clothing. Although these designs are generally relegated to the runway, they provide a glimpse of the long run – and a critique of an industry that may soon be forced to deal with among the problems attributable to mass production.

The dirt on fashion

Annual global turnover of the style industry is a staggering $1.2 trillion, with the US clothing market being the biggest on the earth. (It consumes about 28 percent of the worldwide total and has a market value of about $331 billion.)

Many firms are actually sticking to the unsustainable “fast fashion” model, where consumers need to expect latest clothes to look on the shelves almost every week as an alternative of only once a season.

But while technology has allowed firms to supply more garments faster and at a lower cost, fast fashion has now moved on to this the second most wasteful industry on the earth, behind the oil industry. A single garment creates a big carbon footprint, which is the results of production that features farming, harvesting, manufacturing, processing and shipping. Pesticides in cotton cultivation, toxic dyes in manufacturing, and clothing discarded in landfills add to the environmental cost of a garment.

Some materials equivalent to cotton are recyclable, while other synthetic materials equivalent to nylon and polyester are usually not biodegradable. Even washing these clothes can send them away Thousands of tiny fibers and chemicals into the ocean.

Beauty with a purpose

Think about your entire life cycle of the garment and Close waste cycles creates latest opportunities for the apparel and technology industries. Unfortunately, the role of technology in the style industry has primarily led to increased waste.

That is starting to alter. Designers like Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren attempt to rework industry practices through the use of organic textiles and reducing water and carbon waste.

Now firms like… Levis are involved in projects to deal with their problems Impact on the planet. Levis is now dissolving old clothing to create a brand new fiber that the corporate uses in its jeans – an alternative choice to water-intensive cotton production.

Pauline Van Dongen's solar dress allows wearers to charge their cell phones.
Sanae Ferreira

We are actually also seeing the event of textiles, so-called smart fabrics, that are garments equipped with technological elements that interact with the wearer. Many smart fabric innovators have give you prototypes equivalent to: B. Attracts attention Gloves that translate Hand gestures from American Sign Language (ASL) into audible speech, shirts that enable deaf wearers to experience music through using light and vibration or through clothes that allow wearers to charge their cell phones.

Sales growth Smart fabrics are forecast to just about triple to $2 billion between 2012 and 2018, while wearable technologies are expected to grow to $19 billion over the identical period.

Working towards a functional, stylish ideal

While smart fabrics mix intelligent design with access to latest experiences or improved functionality, most products weren’t very stylish.

But latest collaborations in fashion and technology are increasingly specializing in the importance of favor in functional design.

For example, former Silicon Valley manager Dolly Singh brought together a various team – an astronaut, an orthopedic surgeon, a rocket scientist and a fashion scientist – to tackle a standard problem: discomfort in women's high heels. In the top, they combined technical advances, design principles and advanced polymers to create a brand new flexible, strong and trendy stiletto. (They're not low-cost: The shoes cost between $300 and $900.)

Such innovations are usually not only driven by large corporations and investors; Universities also play a giant role. Harvard's Wyss InstituteMIT Design Lab and The Cornell Nanoscale Science & Technology Facility (CNF) are only just a few of the labs that bring together designers, scientists, media and technology experts to review soft robotics and wearable technologies.

Collaborations between design schools and enormous firms may also result in advances in design, aesthetics and technology. For example, the Rhode Island School of Design has collaborated on research projects with sportswear firms to develop abstract concepts and concepts for future research directions. One idea proposed was to knit tubes for a system to move fluids inside clothing that would affect the wearer's temperature or carry electrical current.

An example of tubular knitting from an industry collaboration with RISD. The pipes provide a system for transporting fluids for temperature control or energy systems.
Suzanne Mancini, Author provided

A vision for the long run

Two recent exhibitions have helped advance the discussion concerning the way forward for fashion and technology: the Museum of Fine Arts #techstyle (March 6 to July 10, 2016) and Metropolitan Museum of Art's Manus x machine (May 5 to August 15, 2016).

While the shows feature many pieces produced exclusively for the runway, they provide an insight into how technology may be used to reuse and reduce fashion waste.

Bionic Yarn weaves denim clothing from recycled plastic bottles.
Sanae Ferreira

For example, #techstyle contains a piece from the corporate Bionic Yarn, which weaves denim clothing from recycled bottles from the ocean. Another work takes a good larger conceptual leap: designer Iris van Herpen's “Water Splash Dress” uses recycled PET plastic and acrylic spray and creates the design from a video recording of actual water splashes.

Some designers, like van Herpen, could also be interested by it Technology as “just a tool” of their craft. But technology opens up a world of opportunities for designers to collaborate and innovate for individual and global needs.

At a panel on fashion and technology on the CUNY Graduate Center, Amanda Parks of Manufacture NY noted the importance of finding a “sweet spot” between craft and technology. She called Nike Flyknit Running shoes are an example of a product that hits this “sweet spot.” The shoe is Knit in response to the form of your footwastes almost no material, has a wonderful fit, and is obtainable at a marketable price (between $130 and $150).

As consumers prepare to expect ready-to-wear fashion, it will be important for designers to leverage technology to create purpose-driven products which are good for the environment but additionally aesthetically pleasing and reasonably priced.

Only then will the style industry move towards a more sustainable and smarter future.

The Nike Flyknit Women's Running Shoe contains a zero-waste, functional design.

image credit :