Fashion Week Geeks Out with Couture 3D Prints, Stitched-In Chips + More

Technology and fashion.  Those two words may be the least likely combination you’ll ever come across, but as technology invades every facet of our lives, it’s not so absurd.  Given the growing interest retail has shown in technology applications with the help of Big Data analytics, it was only a matter of time before new tech invaded the holy grail of fashion.

Fashion Week is a bi-anual, week-long event held months in advance of the season so designers can show off their upcoming collections.  The participating fashion capitals of the world are Paris, Milan, New York and London, with Madrid gaining popularity.

Just as Fashion Week offers a glimpse of the colors, patterns and cuts that will be popular through 2013, the global event also hints at the emerging services fashion will employ with the right technology in order to market and appeal to buyers.  So how has technology injected itself in today’s fashion?

Personalized fashion chips


Burberry launched a new initiative at London Fashion Week by embedding digital chips that deliver bespoke information regarding the new season’s coats and bags.  The idea is to entice consumers to pre-order items as they hit the runway.

The name of the game is personalization.  Consumers can pre-order coats and bags and have bespoke metal nameplates stitched into the lining of the item they want.
With the aid of a smartphone, the chip displays the story of the coat or bag, from its beginnings in a sketchpad to the runway.  The same technology can be found in its flagship digital store in Regent Street, London.  The chips will prompt the information to appear in its large-scale mirrors that turn into screens.

Burberry will reveal more information about the technology in about 9 weeks.

Fashionable hackathon


In New York, Decoded Fashion, a company that bridges the gap between technology and fashion, launched a hackathon that brought together hundreds of graphic designers and software developers.  The result was the creation of 78 different fashion apps.

SWATCHit, the “mobile-web communication platform that manages coordination between designers and artisans in emerging market textile industries,” took home the $10,000 grand prize.  Aside from the cash prize, Ramzi Abdoch’s team also took home a $2,900 Donna Karen New York (DKNY) shopping spree, a strategy lunch with the Refinery 29 founders at their headquarters, a private Macallan tasting, and a commitment from the Council of Fashion Designers of America to actually build the app.

Doodle for fashion & charity


Fashion designer Alexander Wang teamed up with Samsung to create a new print based on doodles, sketches and photographs, which will be used on a one-of-a-kind, limited edition bag with proceeds to be donated to Art Start, a New York City nonprofit that provides art workshops for at-risk children ages 5 to 21.

Participants will send entries to Wang electronically by using a Samsung Galaxy Note II before February 23, 2013.  In a two-minute video for the project, Wang was shown using a Galaxy Note II to gather ideas during the journey from his Soho apartment to his design studio.

Wang, who recently joined the prestigious French fashion house Balenciaga as creative director, believes that his move to partner up with Samsung “represents a new way that technology and style can come together.”

3D printed materials walk the runway


3D printed pieces of clothing made their Fashion Week debut this year as part of Iris van Herpen’s Haute Couture show, ‘VOLTAGE,’ during the Paris Fashion Week.  The 3D pieces were made by the collaboration of Stratasys for the 3D printer and artist, architect, designer, and professor Neri Oxman from MIT’s Media Lab for the cape and skirt ensemble, and Materialise for the 3D printer and Austrian architect Julia Koerner for the intricate dress.

“The ability to vary softness and elasticity inspired us to design a “second skin” for the body acting as armor-in-motion; in this way we were able to design not only the garment’s form but also its motion,” explains Oxman. “The incredible possibilities afforded by these new technologies allowed us to reinterpret the tradition of couture as “tech-couture” where delicate hand-made embroidery and needlework is replaced by code.”