Fashion and technology could seem like diametrically opposed sectors, but the former is increasingly betting on a fashion revolution that goes beyond novel prints and cuts. And constantly changing trends lead clothes to lose value quickly which, combined with the mass fabrication of low-cost garments, fosters a disposable mindset.
This is the problem that the designer and expert in wearables Pauline van Dongen aims to address through the Crafting Wearables project, born from her doctorate in industrial design at the Technical University of Eindhoven(Holland) specializing in fashion and technology. Her objective is to integrate the latest innovations in wearables in smart clothing designs which result practical in addition to stylish. Thanks to this initiative, Van Dongen has been named as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition´s Innovators Under 35 Europe 2017. This young innovator "felt, as a designer, the need to drive changes in the fashion industry."
That desire has allowed garments like FysioPal and Phototrope to debut. The former is a top which helps the wearer to maintain the correct posture by acting as a second skin which measures the haptic signals around the collar, shoulders and back. This information is sent to a smartphone app which visualizes the user´s posture data. If the user adopts an incorrect posture, the top will vibrate to prompt the wearer to correct it.
Phototrope is a t-shirt designed to improve runners´ ability to respond to changes in lighting. The shirt integrates strips of LEDs, which are hidden behind soft, flexible sheets of thermoplastic polyurethane. Through a prismatic structure, the garment refracts the discreet yet vibrant and multicolor lights from the LED strips. "It´s a technology that allows users to discover new experiences," its creator explains.
Van Dongen´s laboratory focuses on the aspects most closely associated with fashion to design garments. The technical development is performed in collaboration with specialized companies from the sector, like Elitac, the collaborating partner of FysioPal, or Philips for Phototrope.
"Inspiring and informing designers, as well as other actors in the fashion, textile or design industries": this is how Van Dongen defines her objective. Correspondingly, her clothes are not currently available for sale; instead, she delivers presentations at conferences and international events, delivers corporate workshops and participates in exhibitions. Her aim is to showcase these innovative garments to the world to pave the way for them to leap into the mainstream in the near future. Crafting Wearable's collaborators and partners include brands like Italdenim, Bywire and TextielLab, in addition to Philips and Elitac.
In the words of the laureate of the 2015 global edition of IU35, the 2014 edition of Innovators Under 35 Turkey and jury member for the Innovator Under 35 Europe 2017 awards, Canan Dagdeviren, Crafting Wearables "offers a unique approach to integrating art and design with technology."
By Isaura Fornerino
Translation: Teresa Woods