Smart Fashion: Pretty electronic

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Smartphones, smart homes, and smart watches are already almost old-fashioned. Smart fashion is the new trend. In two weeks’ time at the LOPEC in Munich from March 13 to 15, you can find out whether you’ll have to find space for it in your closet.

A silk dress with three thousand LEDs turned the appearance of style icon Katy Perry at the Met Gala charity ball in New York into a unique, trend-setting extravaganza. Now – eight years later – it seems that what startups, fashion designers, and technicians have been “hatching” in back rooms and laboratories for some time is slowly becoming mature enough to see the light of day. Items of clothing light up, communicate, pay, monitor our vital parameters and warn us about “diesel vehicles”.

Sense rather than hear

Back then, Katy Perry’s shining chiffon creation was designed by London fashion house CuteCircuit.  Established in 2004, the label used wearable electronics in its fashion designs from the very beginning. The pioneer will now be presenting some of its designs at this year’s LOPEC Congress. Such as a Sound Shirt that allows deaf people to feel the music at concerts. Sixteen micro-actuators that are embedded in the fabric of the garment transform sounds into vibrations – the violins can be felt on the arms and the drums on the back. The Hug Shirt works in a similar manner – it gently squeezes the wearer when someone sends a hug message to the shirt by phone.

The electronic components for smart fashion are still printed directly onto the apparel or thin films that are then laminated onto the fabric. But complete conductive textiles are conceivable in the future. CuteCircuit, for example, presented a little black dress made from the miracle material graphene. With the help of integrated sensors and a microprocessor, the breathing pattern of the wearer can be shown by means of LEDs.

Smart Fashion with Intel inside

These days, the tech giants are also getting into the fashion scene. For instance, Google and Levi’s have developed a jacket for cyclists. The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket connects to a smartphone which then enables gesture interactivity. The technology is contained in a flexible plastic part in the collar. The jacket is available in Levi’s online store for $350.

Smart fashion with Intels "Curie" (Image: Intel)
Designers integrate Intel Curie chips into high fashion. (Image: Intel).

Deutsche Telekom is also becoming trendy and last year organized its second smart fashion competition. Within the scope of the international Fashion Fusion event, experts from the fashion industry and from the startup scene helped young talents make their smart fashions ready for the market.

And whoever, like Intel, earns their money with chips must service the trends that “smell” of silicon in good time. The Intel Curie module is named after a woman who knew her way around radioactivity. The button-sized component is now impressing a whole range of fashion designers. It has an integrated pattern recognition feature and a limited ability to learn. Properties that, for example, designer Becca McCharen made use of in her famous wing dress Adrenalin. It changes shape depending on the wearer’s stress level. For whatever purpose.



Smart fashion makes outfits interactive. (Image: CuteCircuit).

Smart fashion makes outfits interactive. (Image: CuteCircuit).