The Future of “Wearables,” Part 2

A conversation with Carolyn Higgins and Bizzy Schorr

On Saturday, we posted a wrap up of the SXSW presentation on the future of smart fashion; a few days and several panels later, what are we thinking about the topic?

Bizzy: All these products were pretty single function, and I need my jacket to do more than control the volume of my iPod before it becomes a useful development.

Carolyn: Agreed! Some of these things did seem to be solutions looking for problems. However, the pilates shirt that can correct posture mistakes could prevent injury – that’s smart fashion I could get into.  Literally!

Bizzy: So far these smart fashion products are focused on safety or fitness. I spend most of my time reading, networking, or creating, so none of these articles of clothing will replace any of my current devices. Give me a jewelery set that makes phone calls and then we can talk.

Carolyn: There we diverge. As a fiber artist, I appreciate traditional textiles – I prize them, in fact. But marrying fiber optics and other “smart” technology with fabric both for the sake of art and for greater functionality is something that intrigues me.

Bizzy: The concept is definitely intriguing.  However, the features and function of these devices don’t seem nearly as robust as Google’s Glass – which I’d really like to test drive. While the aesthetic value of Glass could be debated, it has a lot more functionality and will be fundamentally more useful.

Carolyn: True, but you have to start somewhere. In a few short years, Jennifer Darmour and designers like her have truly gone out of the box to rethink clothing. It’s not all for me, and there are big problems, like washability and the energy the garments require. But I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Bizzy: You also have to consider the aesthetics of function. An iPhone is not fundamentally beautiful as a piece of plastic. Its beauty is in its performance. None of yesterday’s devices showed the sort of graceful functionality of an iPhone. Even though I’m not an apple user, for me to invest in wearable tech, like a smart jacket, it would have to affect my life on the level of the iPhone, with the grace of an iPhone.

Carolyn: I think of how strictly utilitarian some of our everyday things are. When you consider a bike helmet, for example, we know how important they are, but form and function are miles apart. We wear them because we need to, not because we want to. But in considering what it is that we need them to do and how we can improve the aesthetics, we just might make them better, more fun for people to wear, and save a few more lives. Who knows – imagine wearing a bike helmet to a formal affair because you love the way it looks.

Tell us what you think about integrating technology and fashion.  What sort of smart fashion developments would you like to see?

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