First, just as a point of clarification, let me quickly say that the dress shown above is not one of our products, but rather was created by Rachel Reichert, a seasoned designer who’s producing some of the more inspiring pieces of tech-infused apparel. In fact, its pieces like these that pulled me towards considering the fashion arena as a viable channel for product development.
Like many pre-web electronic arts afficionados, I’ve been following wearables for a long time, having experienced Tod Machover’s Conductor’s Glove performance at CyberArts 1990, and having worked in the Virtual Reality industry during the 90’s, when HMDs (Head-mounted Displays) and data-gloves were barely wearable. Everything was big and clunky and wired, and sometimes painstakingly aggregated (like Richard DeVaul’s setup at MIT’s Media Lab, c.2001), but all lovingly used, as we knew (and hoped) eventually these things would get smaller, cheaper, and more powerful.
That time has finally arrived, and unless you’ve been living in a WiFi-less cave, you’ve seen it happening too. Google, Samsung, Motorola, and yes, now Apple, have been surfacing the “wearables” to which they’ve collectively committed billions of dollars and decades of R&D. At the same time, we’re seeing a pronounced emergence of conductive materials — an entirely new breed of fabrics — that can conduct electrical current and emit light, opening the channel within which fashion designers, new media artists, and creative coders can collaborate. And finally, the Internet of Things is taking center stage, most recently summed-up by DittoLabs founder David Rose in his recently published Enchanted Objects.
Of course, my interest lies chiefly in the ways that we can meld art, music and technology into exciting new products and applications. And so it happened that, as a result of having released cambia432 two weeks ago, I reconnected with some old fashion industry/designer friends, and began discussing possible product ideas, of which there are many. The plan now is to coalesce the brainstorming into a viable product over the next couple of weeks and build a KickStarter campaign around it, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Now it also happens, quite coincidentally, and quite fortuitously, that New York Fashion Week is kicking off, and the city is abuzz with events (and lots of beautiful people!). Unsurprisingly, more than a few of these events focus on the opportunities and possibilities in the space that has become known as “Fashion Tech”. As part of our initial R&D efforts, I’ll be attending some of these events and will report findings right here.
It’s truly an exciting time, and I’m more than a little enthusiastic about our entrance into this sector, so rich with possibilities, and the tools to bring these possibilities to life.
Photo Credit: rachelreichert.com