How were you inspired to use technology in fashion?
In the 1990s I was one of the pioneers in the emerging field of virtual worlds and avatars. During our first avatars conferences in 1996 and 1997 we held fashion shows "come as your favorite avatar". When we moved the conference inside virtual worlds we continued the tradition of these "Avvy Awards".
In 2003, my wife Galen Brandt led a project with fashion professor Daria Dorosh at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in which students produced fashion drawings which were then made into garments and with another set of students at Simon Fraser University in Canada, created avatars wearing these garments. A combined cyber-physical fashion show of "Ratava's Line" was then held for members of the fashion press in New York.
The iDoublet was also modeled after a distant ancestor mine, Sir John Harman, who was an admiral in the English fleet several hundred years ago. I had always admired his sense of style and garments, which were truly handy for the tech of the day (swords and the like).
I see a merger between the two fields with textiles becoming high tech and manufacturing of garments becoming driven by CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Manufacturing). The apparel business is one of the last holdouts of old fashioned 18th Century hand construction. New whole garment manufacturing systems now spin thread, give it color and elasticity and "extrude" garments that can now be customized to a person's body and taste in terms of embedded artwork. iPods or other devices could therefore be given translucent, touch-through pockets and as we are now seeing, button controls for these devices can be created within the fabric itself.
I think that for medical health monitoring, cyber-garments will bring real breakthroughs such as heart monitoring, galvanic skin response, and communication of health status. A T-shirt could, for example, determine and transmit the body posture of the wearer so that a fall could automatically be sensed. The addition of social interfaces like Twitter to garments will allow really interesting club-scene type interaction. Eventually full color displays in materials will bring avatars and virtual worlds as well as video cameras all tied into the social web onto the street.
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