16 March 2018


    #FutureFashion: Clothing that thinks

    Wearable tech, smart fabrics, 3-D printed jeans from the comfort of your own home. All this and more is predicted for your 2030 wardrobe, but is it realistic?

    Wearable tech, smart fabrics, 3-D printed jeans from the comfort of your own home. All this and more is predicted for your 2030 wardrobe, but is it realistic?

    Imagine a silky scarf created from mushrooms that can ‘read’ your mood and release a burst of calming or invigorating scent depending on your stress levels? Or a coat that controls your body temperature – and ensures your home is perfectly heated as you step in the door? Forecasters suggest that advances in nanotechnology will soon see us donning clothes embedded with a network of sensors that will hyperconnect us to the Internet of Things.

    According to a report by the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software & Society, by 2022, 10% of people will be wearing clothing with embedded chips. Translation? You’ll be interacting remotely with everything from your car to your fridge just by wearing your favourite pair of jeans. And that’s not all. Implantable microchips will dispense medications on a prescribed schedule, ensuring that you get the required doses without ever missing a pill.

    Already on shelf

    ‘This isn’t far-fetched,’ says former Marie Claire editor and founder of www.twyg.co.za, Jackie May. ‘Wearable tech is nothing new.’

    In fact, Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech T-shirt that lets you capture your biometric info (heart rate, steps taken) while you’re on the move – and Levi’s high-tech jacket that lets you control your maps, music and smartphone just by swiping and tapping a tag embedded in your sleeve – are already so last year. Unsurprisingly, the tech that powers the Levi's jacket is provided by Google - their Project Jacquard is working on a fabric whose yarn can communicate with smartphones and other devices. 

    Ralph Lauren also outfitted the US team for the recent Winter Olympics – and the uniform featured jackets fitted with an interior heating system made of conductive inks bonded to the interior and connected to a battery pack. 

    Don’t expect your wardrobe to feature ordinary fabrics like denim and cotton though. In an ongoing search for sustainable materials, scientists are already collaborating with fashion houses to serve up items of clothing created from edible, compostable materials like seaweed and kelp.

    And soon, these experiments won’t be happening in laboratories. Some futurists predict that in the next thirty years you’ll probably own a bio-fabricator ( a machine that grows fabrics from microbial cultures) and will use it – along with your home 3-D printer – to create planet-friendly garments tailormade to suit your body.

    And there’s more. Motoring powerhouse Hyundai recently created an exoskeleton suit that makes heavy lifting easier. But Ian Pearson, a British futurist with an 85% accuracy record, says that’s just the beginning. He envisages leggings and trousers that make it easier to walk and run. Or Spiderman-like suits made with polymer gels that can improve strength.

    What’s not to love about a future wardrobe that promises to transform us all into superheroes?

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