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3D Revolution – Part 3

FROM PAPER SKETCHES, PAPER PATTERNS, & HAND-SEWN SAMPLES TO TRUE-TO-LIFE 3D

(Photo credit: Optitex)

This is the third in our series covering the fashion industry’s use of 3D software. As we discussed in 3D Revolution: Part 1 and 3D Revolution: Part 2,  fashion companies are expanding their workspaces by moving away from paper sketches, paper patterns & hand-sewn samples to true-to-life 3D in the areas of design, product development, sales & marketing.

In this blog we’ll cover the industry’s most popular 3D software providers, the benefits of 3D design and the brands that have integrated 3D into their workspace. In addition, we will announce a course that explores how to evaluate whether 3D is right for your brand, 3D software costs and how to choose a 3D software package no matter the size of your company.

It is important to note that all of the brands and 3D software providers interviewed for this 3D blog series underscored the importance of possessing strong foundational ‘on-the-table’ skills before moving into digital. Each emphasized that a thorough understanding of textiles, pattern making, fit (a key part of the draping process) and garment construction, as well as ‘by hand’ and digital drawing acumen are all critical to the process. They agreed that even the best computer skills in the world are no substitute for firsthand knowledge of the key design disciplines when navigating the 3D software space.

According to Amy Sperber, a CLO 3D user and Assistant Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Foundational knowledge of grain, fabric behavior and construction variations are essential at being a competent 3D fashion design software user. The challenge for fashion designers with little digital background is that the interfaces may be intimidating at first. Those with a working knowledge of Illustrator will find familiar tool experiences  in the 2D pattern making portions of 3D software. The next generation of fashion designers will need to be technically creative and digitally fluid.”

 

3D BENEFITS

DRIVES SUSTAINABILITY – CREATES EFFICIENCIES – REMOVES SOURCES OF INACCURACY & WASTE

(Photo credit: Classic Cotton)

According to McKinsey & Company, 60% of clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year. Savers Thrift Store reports that Americans throw away 81 pounds of used clothes on average per year. And every second, enough textiles to fill a garbage truck is burned or landfilled according to Circular Fibres Initiate. The fashion industry is credited with being the second-most polluting industry in the world. However, brands are now actively seeking solutions for how to reduce their carbon footprint and many see 3D as the answer.

3D is going to be the most sustainable workflow for future fashion development as it eliminates unnecessary sampling and lets you see finished garments before spending exorbitant amounts on sampling budgets, trying to get a sample right.” –  Amy Sperber

 

FASTER TURNAROUND TIME

(Photo credit: Atacac)

Brands using 3D technology gain a competitive edge by adopting faster turn-around times from design to delivery. On-demand manufacturing is possible when brands are able to test clothing concepts (using avatars) on their website before going into production.

According to Amy, “Currently, brands of scale like Nike use this software in design development and for product visualizations for sale on their website. High concept brands like Atacac sell from 3D models and give away the patterns in open-source platforms.”

 

FEWER PROTOTYPES & SALES/MARKETING BENEFITS

Hugo Boss 3D virtual retail space (Photo credit: Hugo Boss)

Hugo Boss is another brand that is able to produce photorealistic 3D images that eliminate the need for numerous physical prototypes, enabling the creation of more new designs in less time. In this way, both Nike and Hugo Boss are using digital samples to shorten design times, cut costs and increase development speeds. Brands are now able to integrate their virtual collections into innovative 3D virtual retail spaces that allow users to walk through and fully interact with garments.

 

KEY 3D SOFTWARE COMPANIES

EFI OPTITEX provides end-to-end fashion design software that includes 2D CAD/CAM pattern design & 3D prototyping for fashion, apparel, automotive & upholstery. Their software combines powerful 2D design and true-to-life 3D visualization in a single platform, to create products that better fit customer’s needs.

Functions of the software include drafting pieces, editing, and finalizing digital patterns. It is also capable of adding various elements, such as pleats, darts, seam allowance, notches, buttons, and much more. It can grade with maximum accuracy and can generate measurement charts.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

Optitex’s true-to-life virtual samples help visualize and make quick alterations. It can also customize the intensity of lighting and shadows for a realistic view of your creation.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

The design team can style colorways and define print placement for fabrics, textures, stitches, buttons, and logos, with limitless virtual samples. They can also Inspect simulated cloth using a tension map to view the exact value of tension, distance, and stretch between the cloth and the avatar.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

Optitex offers an all in one avatar solution, i.e. adjust morphs, create sizes, add accessories, and visualize your garment in various poses. 3D parametric avatars enable designers to create tailored outfits for remote customers. When done right, this innovative technology can easily replace physical changing rooms and prevent fit issues early in the design process.

(Photo credit: Optitex)

The Optitex 3D technology is especially significant when it comes to specific items, such as bras, which have particular fitting standards or active sportswear to visualize placed logos and prints. 3D prototyping is also very suitable for the leather goods and luggage industry. The simulation of materials, such as leather, as well as the import of metal accessories such as buckles and clasps, enables the generation of incredibly photo-realistic 3D virtual prototypes.

In today’s social climate, offering outfits that fit everybody, shape, and size is essential for global brands. Using 3D avatars can ensure that customers will never shop for outfits that create disappointment and frustration and allows brands to accommodate to their needs based on accurate measurements. This is not only great for business in the practical sense of boosting sales, but also improves the brand’s image among Gen Z shoppers who look for an inclusive experience. The data collected from these avatars can also help brands prepare in advance and offer garments that fit a broader spectrum of sizes and shapes.

 

CLO 3D

(3D avatar – Photo credit: CLO 3D)

CLO 3D FASHION DESIGN SOFTWARE is cutting-edge 3D garment visualization technology     with a true-to-life a 3D garment simulation solution. Fashion designers find CLO extremely user-friendly, in fact, friend of UoF Amy Sperber (and FIT Assistant Professor), actually used CLO to complete her master’s degree thesis!

CLO is very student and budding entrepreneur-friendly. Subscription plans, payment plans and special pricing are available for freelancers, small and medium businesses, along with special educational pricing. Pricing for each of their plans can be found here. Note that students get a discount if they sign up with their university email. If you’d like more info about CLO and their software, you can request more information here.

Among major brands that use CLO 3D are Adidas, Arcteryx, Brioni, Emilio Pucci, DSquared2 and Hugo Boss. For all of our 3D computer geeks out there, you might be interested to know that Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology) is using CLO for the Virtual Thermal Modeling of Garments.

 

BROWZWEAR

(Photo Credit: Browzwear)

BROWZWEAR 3D brings the power of 3D to fashion design with a comprehensive suite of easy-to-use solutions to get your creative designs to the market faster than ever before. With Browzwear, designers digitally create any apparel in true-to-life 3D and take them to the next level with a true-motion fit, pattern modification and grading, to a production-ready tech pack.

Leading companies using Browzwear’s software are Nike, PVH, Adidas, VF, Walmart and more. While Browzwear does not have public individual pricing, they do collaborate with higher education institutions and indie designers. Contact them at sales@browzwear.com to learn more. At the 3D Body Tech conference, Vital Mechanics (BC Canada) announced a plugin to Browzwear for soft tissue modeling so when designing bras designers can properly model the compression of the garment on the bust.

 

TUKATECH

Tukatech – last but certainly not least, is UoF’s CAD pattern making partner, Tukatech. Our collaboration with Tuka over the past few years has assisted many of our ‘on-the-tablers’ to ease into the world of computer pattern making at a super discount!  Thanks Ram and the entire team at Tukatech!

Tukatech offers programs that cover: CAD room engineering, virtual 3D design & fit, garment manufacturing solutions, on-demand manufacturing and eco fashion technology. In fact, by using TUKAcad, US Apparel (a product dev company) increased their sample approval rate with H&M from 93% to 99.8%. High approval rates mean that the first sample sent to a brand is usually accepted without corrections. Eliminating the need for a second or third sample saves time in production, fuel for shipping and fabric for sample sewing – truly providing eco-friendly fashion product development.

In addition to Tuka’s computer-aided pattern making design solutions is their open systems for pattern making and 3D virtual sample-making power. Their system also offers digital fabric printing and laser cutting. The flexibility of this fashion technology allows the microfactory model to work in businesses of all sizes, from on-demand manufacturing to rapid prototyping.

 

ATTENTION ALL ASPIRING DESIGNERS & ENTREPRENEURS

If you are an aspiring designer looking to start your own line or an existing small fashion business, well then you may want to consider 3D software, it just might be the answer to shaving off the high costs of samplemaking and taking your product to market!

Independent designers utilizing these types of tools have enormous potential for direct to consumer sales. A collection will be able to be sold from digital visualizations across omni channels and social media; no longer keeping designers in one physical location – design can happen anywhere your computer can go.” – Amy Sperber

 

ALVANON’S LEARNING PLATFORM: MOTIF

The University of Fashion has always been proud of our partnership with Alvanon (the most fabulous dress forms in the market) and we use their forms almost exclusively for our lessons. Alvanon has also been collecting 3d body scan data in over 30 global markets across the women’s, men’s and kid’s market for decades. They partnered with various Sizing Research Organizations, National Size Surveys and academics globally, such as ASTM International, Shape Great Britain, Hohenstein, Size Mexico, BodiData North America, North Carolina State and Cornell University among others, to become the world’s expert on body types & shapes and has created the most inclusive avatar library on the planet.

Whether you’re a manufacturer or an individual interested in integrating 3D fashion design software into your workspace, you will want to know about Alvanon’s partnership with a new learning platform called Motif, an apparel knowledge hub that connects professionals around the world. Their course entitled, “3D Transformation: The Why, What and How” is a great way to explore the challenges and benefits involved in moving to 3D.

How Indie Brands are Revising & Revolutionizing Retail

- - Fashion Business

A busy street in NYC’s Soho neighborhood. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)

2020 is here and there’s much to look forward to (and not just the election). Although our beloved Barney’s has shuttered its business and major chains such as The Gap and Victoria Secrets are closing stores across the U.S., and a stroll down Madison Ave., uncovers a retail graveyard of a few dozen empty store fronts, good  things are happening for NYC retail. For years now, we’ve been hearing that traditional retail is dead, but wait…hold the presses….indie brands are starting to open boutiques in Soho! Is this a sign that brick-and-mortar will survive after all? Is it that millennials prefer downtown over uptown for their retail experience?

While many digital native brands, such as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Bonobos, started online. Today, these brands are expanding and opening retail ‘concept’ shops for their clients. “According to real estate experts, digitally native brands are predicted to open 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the next 5 years, with New York being the most popular destination,” according to Tinuiti, a NYC-based marketing firm. Through research and marketing, Tinuiti stated that “most of the digital brands opening stores sell apparel, which makes sense; it’s a category where shoppers definitely benefit from interacting with the product in person. We’re sure to see plenty more storefronts from these ecommerce brands — apparel and other categories alike.”

The outside of Glossier’s store in New York. (Photo courtesy of Glossier)

Another trend that is sure to continue is the rise of omnichannel. Retailers need to offer a consistent buying experience across channels, both online and off. The lines between digital and physical shopping experiences are a blur. Retailers need to be agile and responsive to customer needs with branded touchpoints at all parts of the purchasing journey. According to Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext, “Consumers simply don’t think in terms of channels. This isn’t 1998. No one is sitting around and thinking, ‘Hey, I think I’ll do some online shopping.’ For many years and certainly in 2020, it’s all just ‘shopping.’ Shopping journeys now go through a variety of branded touchpoints, digital for sure, but physical touchpoints too, and they are nowhere near linear shopping journeys. Brands need to be nimble, agile and responsive to shopper needs, and they need to deliver seamless, friction-free paths for their shoppers to navigate.”

Through marketing research, Tinuiti states that retail is in fact in the midst of a Retail Renaissance. A recent study by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) showed that opening a physical store increases online traffic by 36% for established retailers and 45% for emerging brands. According to the marketing firm,” In-Store Purchase Funnel is about to be integrated seamlessly into Unified Commerce. The stores will become Experience Retail. In addition to Interactive Technologies such as Smart Fitting Rooms, watch for more in-store immersive innovations in 3D Printing, Eye-Tracking, and Augmented Reality.”

In today’s retail environment, direct-to-consumer brands are reinvigorating the retail scene in NYC. A growing number of e-commerce brands are opening storefronts to grow their businesses further. “Physical retail embodies a social and tangible experience that America’s Amazon-driven format of online retail has yet to duplicate,” Web Smith, the co-founder of Mizzen+Main, said. And so, “digital-first retailers are … investing in extending their direct-to-consumer relationships by owning permanent storefronts in worthwhile locations.” It’s a theme that’s expected to continue to ring out in retail this year. A study in 2018 by real estate research firm Green Street Advisors found so-called digitally native brands altogether have more than 600 stores blanketing the U.S., and counting.

Rents across NYC have also dramatically dropped and are nowhere near levels seen in the peak of 2014. Even Madison Avenue — known for its prestige and high end boutiques such as Chanel, Prada, and Celine— is not immune to the trend of falling rents.

According to CNBC, “in the second quarter of 2019, average asking rents across New York City declined an average of 4.5% from a year ago to $776 per square foot, according to an analysis by commercial real estate services firm CBRE. It marked the seventh consecutive quarter of declines. Rents along Upper Madison Avenue (57th to 77th Streets) in particular dropped 11.7% from a year ago to $1,042 per square foot.”
Thanks to the falling prices of rents and more flexible lease terms, its open the possibility for smaller brands to open shop. At some point, landlords had to budge. A lot of these new retailers weren’t going to pay sky high rents. “If someone was renegotiating a lease today, it’s a very different market than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” said Nicole LaRusso, director of research and analysis at CBRE.

After 2014, as rents started to fall and store closures picked up, “landlords didn’t want to hear it,” LaRusso said. “But most of that lesson has been learned now.” There’s much more negotiating being done today, she said. “I think we are getting to that equilibrium.”

Indie Brand Retail Invasion 
“Meatpacking today is what I would call New York’s ‘it’ neighborhood,” said Jared Epstein, developer at Aurora Capital Associates. Epstein worked on RH’s roughly $250 million deal for a 15-year lease in the area. An RH hotel is also set to open in the Meatpacking District next fall.

“New York has a certain resiliency that is proven time and time again,” Francis Greenburger, founder and CEO of real estate developer Time Equities. “I would never doubt New York resiliency.”

And as a resilient city, here are a few indie brands that have opened retail shops in NYC and across the United States.

Glossier NYC Boutique. (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

Beauty brand Glossier is a direct-to-consumer label founded by Emily Weiss in 2014. In 2018, her small business surpassed $100 million in revenues. Weiss opened her flagship boutique in Soho, in November of 2018. The store is such a hit that you can find shoppers lining the sidewalk streets to get in, whether it’s to shop or pose in front of the companies signature millennial pink-covered walls. Glossier also has a store in Los Angeles and is experimenting with pop-up locations.

Rothy’s San Francisco store. (photo courtesy of Rothy’s)

Rothy’s, a woman’s shoe label, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco in 2018. The label was launched in 2015 in San Francisco by Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornthwaite, the direct-to-consumer brand created and sold shoes that ranged from ballet flats to loafers for women and kids that are made out of recycled plastic bottles. The brand decided to open its first store so customers can see the shoes in person and try them on before making a purchase. In 2018, Rothy’s gained a $35 million investment from Goldman Sachs and has raised over $42 million to date. Rothy’s booked a little more than $140 million in revenue for 2018.

The outside of Koio’s store in Venice, California. (Photo courtesy of Koio)

Koio, a high-end sneaker brand, was launched in 2014 by Chris Wichert and Johannes Quodt. In 2018, the brand has already raised $5.1 million and opened a handful of stores throughout the United States, including, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and are planning to open more in the near future. The brand creates sneakers for both men and women, but the men’s category outperforms women’s. Wichert and Quodt are already creating new silhouettes to keep up with the growing ‘designer’ sneaker category which has exploded in popularity.

Outdoor Voices Boston Store. (Photo courtesy of Outdoor Voices)

Outdoor Voices is a woman’s athleisure brand that was founded by Tyler Haney, the 31-year-old is also the CEO of the brand. Outdoor Voices was started in Austin in 2014 and has raised over 56.5 million to date. The brand has a number of stores throughout the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Nashville, and Boston. Tyler told CNBC in 2017 that in the future she planned on opening at least 50 stores, one in every state. Giving investors a vote of confidence, Mickey Drexler, the former CEO of J.Crew and Gap, serves on its board. Haney said he’s played a key role in helping Outdoor Voices grow offline.

Ganni store in Soho. (Photo courtesy of Ganni)

Ganni, the Copenhagen-based brand, opened its first U.S. store in Soho this past October, followed by one in Los Angeles and Miami.”We always dreamt of opening stores in the U.S.,” explains founder Nicolaj Reffstrup. “We’ve been extremely fortunate to be stocked in some of the U.S.’s finest boutiques and retailers; seeing our U.S. audience connect with our Scandi 2.0 sense of style has been incredible and we’ve resonated well with the market. This next step of having our own physical stores means we can welcome our community into our universe and experience Ganni in real life. It just made sense. There’s been so much talk of the death of retail, but I don’t think retail is dead, it’s just entering a new phase. It’s about figuring out how you give your community a unique real-life experience, a high level of service, interesting interactions with real people and an easy, effortless shopping experience where your community feels welcome.”

Self-Portrait Boutique. Courtesy of Flaunt Magazine

Self-Portrait is a contemporary label launched in 2013 by Han Chong. The London based label is known for its feminine dresses with a youthful twist. In August 2019, the label opened its first brick-and-mortar concept retail space in the U.S. in  Soho; but Self-Portrait is testing out the New York City store-front experience before fully committing, with the concept store set to close in June 2020. “This is a great opportunity to welcome anyone, not only to shop, but also to explore the Self-Portrait experience,” says Chong. “What I’ve seen happening is that stores are now becoming brand ambassadors both online and offline. We want to blend these experiences to create that connection with our clients. We’ve built this amazing community digitally with them since we started the brand and now we get to invite them into our home to get know us more intimately.”

Are you considering opening a pop-up or a retail shop for your brand? Share your thoughts!

2018’s Top Tech Trends in Fashion

- - Uncategorized
Farfetch’s Store of the Future (SoF) (Courtesy farfetch.com)

Farfetch’s Store of the Future (SoF) (Courtesy farfetch.com)

The past year has been one of constant innovation and technological development that has had a ripple effect across a broad spectrum of industries. One area experiencing a particularly fascinating technical revolution is the fashion industry.

From garment construction all the way to retail, this paradigm shift towards eco-friendly mixed mediums and automated processes has the potential to change the footprint of fashion as we know it. Let’s take a look at some of the recent standouts.

 

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID uses electromagnetic fields to capture and access information stored on tags, usually accessed by a reader device. This is especially useful when it comes to telling the difference between identical items of clothing on a retail shelf for inventory purposes, for example, or tripping an alarm if an item is carried out of a store without being properly rung up.

A company that has recently been pushing the RFID envelope is Farfetch. Based out of London, the company, billed as a “luxury e-tailer,” believes that it has come up with a solution to bridge the ever-widening divide between brick-and-mortar stores and their ecommerce components. Called the “Store of the Future” (SoF), Farfetch’s platform will use data from online searches along with RFID tracking to create a real-time “wishlist” based on what consumers are really looking at online— as well as physically picking up off the rack.

Even for brands not participating in this SoF concept, the real-world applications of this technology are limitless. Fashion collectives like Rebecca Minkoff have been using RFID to enhance the checkout experience of their customers– allowing them to cash out more quickly than in the past. Additionally, brands like Moncler are using RFID chips embedded in clothing to combat the thriving counterfeit industry. Customers can authenticate their goods via an app or through the website, which is especially useful when purchasing used or from third-party retailers.

Moncler - embedded RFID chips to combat counterfeiting (Courtesy engadget.com)

Moncler – embedded RFID chips to combat counterfeiting (Courtesy engadget.com)

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

When it comes to AI, fashion front-liners can often be concerned at the potential for “robots” to take over jobs in the construction and manufacturing of clothes that were previously held by master craftsmen and factory workers dependent on the income. While it’s natural to feel some hesitation at the uncertainty of the future, it’s important to look closely at the ways this emerging technology is helping support the workers who make fashion possible, not replace them.

One of the important things to understand about artificial intelligence is that while the technology allows for more efficient and complex data processing and analysis, this is usually limited in scope to one niche application. This means that AI is, at present, more like a toolbox than the handyman itself, augmenting the skills someone already possesses. According to fashion experts in Frankfurt, some of the most profitable avenues for AI in fashion are in forecasting trends and managing manufacturing and supply chains.

One great case study of this is Stitchfix, a company specializing in monthly clothing subscription boxes and personal shopping services. Something that has set them apart has been their embrace of AI and machine learning algorithms to predict and reduce return rates, personalize their clothing and accessory selections, and develop new styles based on purchasing trends and customer feedback. According to Forbes, this approach has allowed them to break $1 billion in revenue, and continues to allow them to offer their subscription based product at a premium competitors struggle to match.

Stitch Fix – Using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to predict and reduce return rates (Courtesy Stitchfix.com)

Stitch Fix – Using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to predict and reduce return rates (Courtesy Stitchfix.com)

 

Biodesign

Put simply, biodesign is a recent field of fashion that quite literally intersects the fields of biology and design. The idea of being able to take organic materials and integrate them into wearable, sustainable fashion has become a major focus of athleisure giants like Nike and Puma, among others, in collaboration with top researchers from institutions like MIT. In fact, the developing industry is rumored to be around $13.4 billion dollars, proving that there is increased interest in the field.

Other projects aiming to use biodesign to shrink the fashion footprint are in initial phases of development and refinement, with Dutch design lab Kukka being a noteworthy example. The “In Living Color” installation is an ongoing biodesign project, according to designer Laura Luchtman, that uses pigmented bacterial dyes like carotenoids and violaceins to create sustainable textiles. Luchtman takes the innovation one step further— by creating a “sound lab,” she and a partner subjected bacterial cultures to various frequencies in order to speed up growth and create unique patterns by making the bacteria “dance” on the fabric.

Bacterial dyeing is not a new science— as early as 2015, we were seeing start-up brands incorporating pigment-producing microbes into their process, in an attempt to reduce the usage of synthetic dyes. Often considered to be “dirty,” synthetic dyes are produced largely via toxic chemicals and oil, none of which bode well for sustainable, eco-friendly manufacturing. Even if such a future is still in development, it’s refreshing to note that we are on our way to a more green approach to fashion.

‘Living Color’- Bacteria dyeing project (https://www.kukka.nl/en/portfolio/living-colour/)

‘Living Color’- Bacteria dyeing project (https://www.kukka.nl/en/portfolio/living-colour/)

Pigment-producing microbes to reduce the usage of synthetic dyes. (Courtesywww.kukka.nl/en/portfolio/living-colour/)

Pigment-producing microbes to reduce the usage of synthetic dyes. (Courtesywww.kukka.nl/en/portfolio/living-colour/)

 

3D printing

A topic that has previously been addressed on the University of Fashion Blog, 3D printing has had a hand in biodesign as well, since the advent of 3D printers allow designers and researchers to create structures and textiles that mimic those that exist in nature. Beyond that, incidents of technology used in a fashion context has soared to record heights lately— with a recent example being the unveiling of the first ever wearable collection made of entirely 3D printed materials, by designer Julia Daviy at this year’s New York Fashion Week.

Daviy’s large-scale printing technique means that clothing is assembled on industrial printers and by using cutting edge flexible resin technology— all without a single stitch of thread or glue. This minimal-waste approach has also proven to be far less labor-intensive than other types of manufacturing, meaning that an increased potential to shape the current state of factories into something more reflective of our collective social and environmental focus.

 

Julia Daviy – 3D Collection at NYFW 2018 (Courtesy- juliadaviy.com/liberation-collection/)

Julia Daviy – 3D Collection at NYFW 2018 (Courtesy- juliadaviy.com/liberation-collection/)

 

Conclusion

From 2017-2018 alone, there have been a number of technological advancements that push the boundaries of what we previously thought possible in terms of creation, manufacturing, and consumer experience.

While this has the ability to change the field of play in a positive way, it’s important to be cautious about the potential for ethical complications as a result of greed and hastiness.

1715 Labs CEO Sophie Hackford commented at a recent Condé Nast conference that “We need to make sure we’re not using technology to widen inequality or worsen social injustice.”

That’s certainly true, which is why it’s so comforting to see the same headlines when it comes to the future of fashion and tech— it seems like the majority of us are in alignment that developing technology that does right by workers and consumers will also help brands achieve the success they strive for.

What can you add to this story? Are you ready for a fashion industry based on technology?

Machine Made Masterpieces

A look by Machine Maven, Iris van Herpen Photo courtesy of

A look by Machine Maven, Iris van Herpen Photo courtesy of scostumista.com

What if you were told to “think outside of the fabric store and a dress form” when creating a garment?

And we’re not talking “you’ve got one hour in the grocery store and a budget of $25 to create a red carpet look” Project Runway challenge.

If a trip to the fabric store was not an option, where would your creative mind go? Read More

Where Science Meets Design

- - Site News, Technology

In fashion, trends come and go. With each new season, decades past resurface and are reinterpreted. For Fall/Winter 2015, the 70s were back in full force on the runway. So, as we look to the future, how can we innovate in fashion? Is it possible to truly create something brand new – something no one has ever seen before? If silhouettes and proportions have been exhausted, what is left to change the face of fashion as we know it? Read More

Future of Textiles: Color-Changing Fabric Controlled with an App?

Color Changing Threads (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.Com)

Color changing threads (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.com)

Imagine the cave man’s reaction going from animal skins to the advent of textiles. Around 5,000 BCE, textiles made from wool, cotton and silk fibers were being woven in Egypt, India and China. Those fibers and methods of weaving were the mainstay of the industry until the advent of man-made textiles like rayon in 1855, viscose 1894 and acetate in 1910. Then, along came the big disruptors…synthetic fibers. These included nylon (1931), polyester (circa 1941), modacrylic (1949) and acrylic (1950). Then there was a trend in creating fabric out of more sustainable fibers and materials such as bamboo, corn, pineapple and even plastic bottles and of course silver nanoparticles used used to impart antimicrobial properties to cotton fibers to aid in the healing of wounds.

Now… enter the 21st century and the latest version of textile disruption …technology. In our blog last week, we discussed the innovative possibilities of 3D and laser printing and the growing list designers who are embracing a futuristic approach to fashion. Let’s check out how technology is affecting and shaping the world of textiles.

This past spring, college researchers in Florida created a temperature-controlled color-changing fabric  known as ChroMorphous. Consumers will now have the ability to change the color and pattern of their handbag or scarf, so that it matches their outfit…all possible with a tap of their smartphone.

This backpack can change its color on demand to match your mood. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

This backpack can change its color on demand to match your mood. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

Dr. Ayman Abouraddy, professor of optics and photonics at the College of Optics & Photonics at the University of Central Florida (CREOL), stated that the age of user-controlled color-changing fabric is here. “Our goal is to bring this technology to the market to make an impact on the textile industry,” he said.

So, how does ChroMorphous work? How can fabric change color and pattern? According to Dr. Abouraddy, “each woven thread is equipped with a micro-wire and a color-altering pigment. You can use your smartphone to change the color or pattern of the fabric on-demand, as the wire can alter the temperature of the fabric in a quick and uniform way. The change in temperature is barely noticeable by touch.”

Abouraddy and Josh Kaufman have been working on optical technology for over a decade at CREOL, but it has only been in the past couple of years that they have veered away from that work, to produce this new kind of fabric. “This is the culmination of our work,” said Kaufman. “We developed different fabrication techniques. This is our first foray in taking those optical fibers into fabric.”

Color Changing Fabric That Can Be Controlled With A Smartphone (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.Com)

Color and pattern changing fabric that can be controlled with a smartphone (Photo Courtesy of CNBC.com)

In the past, color-changing fabrics contained light-emitting diodes, better known as LED’s, that release light in a variety of colors. But ChroMorphous’ technology enables innovative capabilities, in that consumers can control the color as well as the pattern in woven fabrics and cut-and-sewn products.

The threads are made from a synthetic polymer. Within each thread there is a thin metal micro-wire. Electric currents flow through these micro-wires, changing the thread temperature, slightly higher. But don’t worry they do not touch the customer’s skin. Embedded in the thread are special pigments that respond to the change in temperature by changing the thread’s color.

Just think of the infinite possibilities this advanced technology gives designers and consumers. ChroMorphous allows the user to control, both when the color change happens and what pattern they want to appear on the fabric. All this is possible with just a simple press of a button on your smart device.

“Can we expect an ever-expanding range of functionalities from our clothing? These were the questions we asked when creating the ChroMorphous technology that we began developing in 2016,” Abouraddy said. He claims that the technology is scalable at mass-production levels via a process known as fiber-spinning and is currently produced in Melbourne, Florida, with CREOL’s collaborators at Hills Inc. Founded in 1971, Hills Inc. is a well-known innovator in multi-component fiber extrusion technologies.

The CREOL team is working closely with Hills Inc. to minimize the diameter of the threads in order to produce fabrics for the wide-scale market. This innovative fabric can be used in everything from clothing and accessories to furniture and home decor.

So, I’m sure you want to know…how is the fabric charged and how can it be washed? Well, the fabric is powered by a rechargeable battery pack that is hidden inside the clothing. The texture of the fabric is like denim, and it can be washed and ironed.

Abouraddy stated that he expects mass production to begin within the next year. At the moment, the threads are too thick for clothing, but they will work with bags, scarves, and backpacks. “We would reduce the threads in the future to make it more comfortable for a shirt,” Abouraddy said. “It’s not just for things you would wear. It could be used for upholstery, wall decorations for a room … you could change it to darker and more soothing colors.”

Your handbag can change its color thanks to ChroMorphous. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

Your handbag can change its color thanks to ChroMorphous. (Image Courtesy of UCF)

This product is the result of a decade’s worth of research with the past year and a half focused on textiles. It may have taken centuries to get here but wow, the future of textiles has never been more exciting than it has been in just the past decade. Wonder what the future has in store?

So tell us, are you ready to embrace the future of technological textiles?

 

Design for a new time

In Sunday’s New York Times Fashion & Style section, we were introduced to Manufacture NY – “a fashion incubator, factory and research facility housed in a landmark building that was once Storehouse No. 2 of the United States Navy Fleet Supply Base” in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The project is the brainchild of Bob Bland, a 33-year-old designer/entrepreneur/visionary who has been determined to develop a “21st-century garment district” after struggling to produce her own line locally. Read More