fashion: August 2003 Archives

A few months ago Haven suggested to me that studying tattoos might give me some ideas about the future design of wearable computers. Turns out he's not so crazy after all...

In the book Stylemakers: Inside Fashion, the authors talk about David Wolfe, one of Seventh Avenue's foremost fashion forecasters, and his ideas about tattoos. "Based on research from [the MIT experimental clothing laboratory], he predicts a future amalgamation of apparel and technology. 'Tattooing and body piercing are the first steps in this transformation,' he maintains. In less than a century, Wolfe predicts, fashion will be driven more by innovation provided by technology ñ heat-sensitive fabrics, holographic prints, computer-generated designs ñ than by traditional artistry. There will no longer be designers per se ñ only 'technicians,' he prognosticates. The very term 'designer' will seem archaic."

Haven and the fashion maven might just be right...

In 1997 Wired ran an article on a programmable tattoo that could be used as a medical monitor, sensing things like insulin levels.

In a related vein, slashdot recently posted a link to an article about spray on computers. The spray is actually millions of tiny "semiconductor specks" that communicate with each other over wireless. Another medical monitor, the spray would "go on the chest and monitor the performance of the heart." They plan to get this working within four years.

- articles from Haven

I just saw an ad for Gateway flat panel LCD TVs. It said, "Your big fat bloated TV went out of fashion with, well, big fat bloated TVs."

In The End of Fashion, Teri Agins says, "fashion, by definition is ephemeral and elusive, a target that keeps moving. ... Traditionally, the fashion system has revolved around the imperative of planned obsolescence." I doubt that original developers of CRTs were evilly plotting the introduction of LCDs 50 years later, though that's not to say that LCD manufacturers are above exploiting what now looks and feels like a dated technology.

Agins also says, "Today, a designerís creativity expresses itself more than ever in the marketing rather than in the actual clothes. Ö In a sense, fashion has returned to its roots: selling image. Image is the form and marketing is the function." Technology companies can play this game too. Apple's Think Different campaign from a few years back is a perfect example of this, as is Microsoft's pairing of Madonna and XP.

Such emphasis on design and marketing may not be surprising from companies that target the general public, but even Sun's mid- and high-end servers are designed with pretty purple details that remind me of running shoes.

Exponential growth in performance means that systems from six months ago are on their way to the junk heap anyway. Their longevity will only decrease as they are more frequently designed and used as fashion pieces. Have last season's iPod or a cell phone that is too large? Better get shopping!

What will the market look like when these devices are physically integrated into clothing?

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This page is a archive of entries in the fashion category from August 2003.

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