The clothes I prefer are those I invent for a life that does not exist yet, the world of tomorrow. — Pierre Cardin
When he becomes the first man to float in the Cosmos in 1961, Youri Gagarin is probably far from realizing that he will inspire the young guard of Parisian designers. André Courrèges cuts dresses and miniskirts in immaculate white PVC, accessorized with astronaut helmets and matching boots. Paco Rabanne imagines a metallic and sexual future, leading him to draw Barbarella’s interplanetary costume. A year before our arrival on the moon, Cardin disrupts the codes with a unisex line from another galaxy….
Relying on a new approach to clothing, they use innovative materials and manufacturing processes. Driven by the desire to bring the future into our wardrobe, they transcend the limits of their time’s dressmaking and style. A driving force that can still be found in many designers today.
We had already told you about Iris Van Herpen, a Dutch genius who reinvents haute-couture with 3D printing, but does this revolution only affect luxury? How do these brands reconcile technology and aesthetics? What are the different facets of their philosophy?
Let’s take a look at five fashion tech labels…
Clara Daguin, from man to machine
Defining her work as “the fusion between technology and craftsmanship”, Clara Daguin is inspired by transhumanism (a movement in favour of the application of new technologies to improve human performances, editor’s note) to think her collections out.
With a more art-oriented approach, she creates silhouettes worthy of a cyborg on Avenue Montaigne, with a great deal of corsets and electronic silks where intertwined light tubes evoke our organs. It is therefore a conceptual fashion above all, which stands out as much as it raises questions. We regret that the brand does not have an e-shop, perfect to make a sensation at my alumni reunion…
Cute Circuit’s electric style
New York, early 2000s. Cute Circuit is noticed by the emerging fashion tech industry thanks to its hug shirt: equipped with sensors, it allows two individuals to embrace each other from a distance. However, the label will have to wait for Katy Pery to put on one of its evolving dresses at the 2011 Met Gala to finally take off. Shortly afterwards, Nicole Scherzinger orders a model displaying her fans’ tweets in real time.
Also offering a variety of affordable no gender items, it is the ideal companion for night birds. With its t-shirts and blazers integrating LEDs, rotating dresses and motion-sensitive technologies, the brand is one of the few to make a commercial impact in its sector.
Our little favorite: the tuxedo jacket.
Project Kovr vs. Big Brother
Far from the glamorous catwalk, Project Kovr wants to protect us from a dystopian future dominated by Google. Focusing on outerwear only, it imagines jackets completely impermeable to radio-waves — slip your phone into the black pocket to remain reachable. In other words, it manages to sign the modern cloak of invisibility…
While he could well be Edward Snowden’s designer, the collective wants to launch a movement against data culture, digital surveillance, or also geolocation. His crusade for confidentiality takes the shape of a streetwear uniform that borrows the codes of raincoat, ranging from sober to lamé. As for us, we already have a crush on the golden version.
Emel + Aris, above all suspicion
In a completely different register, the label Emel + Aris also chooses to limit itself to outerwear. It promise? Protecting you from the cold, wherever you are. Banking on a classic wardrobe, it cuts trench coats and overcoats equipped with a discreet heating system.
Don’t stop at the gadget side that emerges at first glance. Elegant, with a timeless look, each piece is made of a noble Loro Piana fabric (Italian spinning mill specialising in wool, owned by LVMH, editor’s note).
Our little favorite: the belted coat.
Stella McCartney, fashion for a cleaner world
One might be surprised to find Stella McCartney in this list, the designer offering clothes with no apparent particularities. Yet, she represents another type of fashion tech: the one that works for the production of non-polluting textile materials, reducing the impact of our shopping mania on the Planet. From mushroom leather to corn fur, her studio is looking for sustainable solutions to define a new luxury that respects the environment.
Our little favorite: the first pair of 100% recyclable sneakers.
Between ideological commitment, aesthetic quest and political movement, fashion and innovation can thus be combined in several ways… So, what will tomorrow’s wardrobe look like? •