Will our future wardrobes consist of ‘smart materials’ which adapt to the weather or the occasion or mood of the wearer? Many innovations in the field of textile design and fashion as starting to emerge. The line between technology, interactivity and functional fashion may indeed becoming blurred a little more each day.
Projects such as ‘Karma Chameleon’ creates smart clothes that change shape and colour as you move. Additional innovations even lead the way for these garments to charge your phone – bonus!
The ‘Karma Chameleon’ project launched by Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, weaves electronic fabrics into clothes with this innovative material allowing for the storage of energy from the body.
Joanna Berzowska, professor and chair of the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia, has developed interactive electronic fabrics that harness power directly from the human body, store that energy, and then use it to change the garments’ visual properties.
“Our goal is to create garments that can transform in complex and surprising ways — far beyond reversible jackets, or shirts that change colour in response to heat. That’s why the project is called Karma Chameleon,” says Berzowska.
‘Our goal is to create garments that can transform in complex and surprising ways – far beyond reversible jackets, or shirts that change colour in response to heat.
‘That’s why the project is called Karma Chameleon.’
Prof Berzowska said the major innovation of this research project is the ability to embed electronic or computer functions within the fibre itself. Rather than being simply attached to the textile, the electronic components are woven into these new composite fibres. The fibres consist of multiple layers of polymers, which, when stretched and drawn out to a small diameter, begin to interact with each other. Prof Joanna Berzowska said the major innovation of this research project is the ability to embed these electronic or computer functions within the fibre itself.
The use of smart fabrics has already been considered for a wide range of uses, including clothes which can warm the wearer with electronically conducting materials.
One other suggested use is as a performance device – where the state and shape of the fabric is controlled by someone other than the wearer.
Although the garments designed by the university are still years from being made available, prototype designs have been developed to show the concepts in action.
Others have looked at the evolution of fashion and technology and the symbiosis they may hold in the future for great benefit. Time will tell what the real world winners are when it come to fashion tech and will it be immune to the age old question of ‘does my bum look big in this?’ I think not.