Brands bring wearable technologies to reality at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

You can use your phone to turn off the lights.  You can use your phone to pay taxes, buy tickets, and change the channel on your TV. And now, you can use your phone to change the way your clothes look — even while you are wearing them.

Phone-controlled garments are only one of the many ways that technology has taken over fashion. At the most recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, wearable technology of all shapes and forms made a show-stopping appearance.

CuteCircuit is one brand that embraced the digital fashion revolution at Fashion Week. Its garments and accessories were bedazzled with hundreds of tiny LED lights that would glow and project different images and patterns as its models sauntered down the runway.

The first thing that I pictured when this was described was a group of three dozen stick thin girls trying to walk in garments with batteries the size of their heads, wires sticking out from the bottoms and TV screens stuck all over their bodies.  However, CuteCircuit said that the fabrics they develop with the LEDs are as thin as other fabrics, with microscopic batteries.

It was at the Wearable Technology Fashion Show that we saw many of these new, revolutionary technologies meeting fashion garments. The show was organized by Tech in Motion, an event series for local tech communities across the U.S.  Models came out wearing 3-D printed work, LED clothing, Google Glass and more unusual fashion designs.

The first piece of wearables to come down the runway were pairs of 3-D printed heels created by Continuum Fashion, a Manhattan-based group that specializes in unique 3-D printed shoes. Other projects that the company is working on include 3-D printed bikinis and dresses. Another company, TheLaserGirls, took the trend of nail art and used 3-D printing to create stylized, protruding patterns for your nails.

Also at the show was San Francisco-based company SENSOREE. The group uses sensors to read the wearer’s excitement levels, and connects these sensors to display LED lighting in an array of bright colors for the ultimate mood halo.

There are also technology companies who are pushing for partnerships with designers. Technology has taken over so many industries — media, education, employment — that it was only a matter of time until they took over the fashion industry as well.

Intel Corp., one of the largest computer technology companies the world, announced that it is teaming with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Barneys New York and Opening Ceremony to create some wearable tech. The project will launch with a small bracelet, made through collaboration between Intel and Opening Ceremony.

Misfit is the maker of the Shine, a smooth disc that acts as an activity tracker. Misfit’s piece is part of an increasing number of wearable tech that is making an honest effort to look good. Sorry, Google Glass.

While it is cool that they are making watches that can also tell you the temperature and jackets that have GPS trackers in case you lose them, I don’t want to look like a walking blob of wires and screens.  I don’t want people to be able to tell that it’s technology.

The actual functionality of the wearable tech is important, but you are wearing it. It is an article of clothing or accessory first and technology second. Yes, the fact that it actually works is important, but it should look good too.

Sounds like all these pieces put a new take on the word geek chic. And I want in.  Techies and trendsetters, unite!

Alexis McDonell is a sophomore magazine journalism major. Her column appears every week in Pulp. E-mail her at admcdone@syr.edu and follow her on Twitter at @AlexisMickD.


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