Earlier this month fashion aficionados converged on Portland, Oregon to attend our city’s official Fashion Week. Like the famed New York Fashion Week show at Bryan Park, FashioNXT Portland 2015 set up camp in our hip Pearl District to showcase what’s next in fashion. Models representing extraordinary designers from around North America, and as far away as Colombia, the Philippines, and China, walked the runway.
While I definitely like to be stylish, my primary interest included the world’s first-ever wearable technology fashion competition. Not surprising, wearable technology is a market segment that Business Insider predicts will grow 35 percent each year for the next five years. While wearables are currently dominated by smartwatches and fitness bands, I attended FashioNXT Portland for a hintof what innovations are on horizon.
Fashion’s Limitless Opportunities
It’s exciting to see how the Internet of Things (IoT) is completely disrupting the way we work, live, play and learn. For the most part wearable technology is for fun. Of course, the Fitbit and Apple Watch come to mind.
But wearable technology is beginning to make gains in other areas as well. An IoT innovation that has the opportunity to make a significant impact is the iTBra. It’s basically a bra patch embedded with an IoE sensor to detect early breast cancer. Now that’s incredible.
At FashioNXT, I saw amazing ways to blend fashion and technology. Each of the competition’s three finalists were quite different—yet equally intriguing.
Your Personal Palette
Essere, who won the evening’s competition, is a series of clothing items that are completely blank when you purchase them. Of course, the fabric is all there. But the final design is yours. It works when you drag your finger across the fabric to draw patterns and designs. The fabric’s metal alloy thread releases heat, prompting color changes. It’s like Etch A Sketch, only better. Much better.
Ride On ‘Easy Rider’
I found runner-up Antaeus the most compelling from an IoT point-of-view. It introduced a revolutionary motorcycle jacket that uses a pattern of piezoelectric fibers weaved into the material that harden when an electric field is applied across the material. A microprocessor and gyroscope are also built into the jacket, putting the jacket into “protection” mode when it detects a fall or collision. And a special E-ink display on the jacket’s forearm connects with the rider’s smartphone to display navigation directions. I certainly hope this jacket is in production if/when my sons ever decide they “must” have a motorcycle.
A Surreal Clothing Experience
Electronic Wave Poncho, also a runner-up, is an interactive garment that transfers electronic waves around the user into elegant textures on the poncho. Via a built-in sensor, the poncho switches among a variety of waves, creating vertical and horizontal pattern movements like wind blows through the garment.
I can’t wait to see what wearable innovations come next. Clothes that automatically adapt to your perfect size? High heels that never hurt? What I’d really love, living in the Northwest, is a coat that adapts to hourly changes in the weather.