Photochromia: Garments Transform Patterns in Sunlight

 How clothing responds to the enviornment is the question of the day for the creators of the Photochromia garment  collection. These hats, shirts, pants and backpacks represent a joint effort between the wearable tech studio, The Crated and the digital platform so aptly named, Print All Over Me. Their not-so-magical but clearly impressive powers that reveal hidden patterns are the result of photochromic inks, which are reactive in ultra-violet light.


Photochromia Sweater: Source: TrendhunterPhotochromia Sweater: Source: Trendhunter


How are these special garments made?

Apparel and technology have melded once again. Via a digital printer, the fabric embedded with special photochromic inks is activated by photons from UV light, which alters the dye's molecular structure. When exposed to sunlight, the fabric transforms dramatically from white to black; when removed from the rays  of the sun, it returns to white. The ink works best in natural light and is like wearing a chamelion that keeps changing colors.

Other applications for these incredible dyes

Although this collection is done with a digital printer, these dyes can also be applied to fabrics via conventional printing, dyeing, extrusion and spraying methods. Some other applications include: printing a brand name or logo to prevent its duplication; packaging industries and some security devices. They can be utilized to make sunglasses, opthalmic lenses  that change color while outdoors, footwear, furnishings and even novelty products like nail lacquer, embroidery thread and toys.


Photochromia Products: Source: KickstarterPhotochromia Products: Source: Kickstarter


Challenges and potential setbacks  of photchromic dyes

So far at least, these special inks have not been commercially succesful. The problem lies within their very nature. They are not water soluble, which renders them inappropriate for application on wool or cotton. Solvents compatible with synthetic textiles are the only liquids in which these dyes can dissolve. They cannot withstand heat and the dyeing process can be compromised if the temperatures are too high.

The future of photochromic dyes

The unique Photochromia collection of 11 items has the potential to completely rock the fshion industry. It is sleek, chic and wearable. By their very nature, these special inks present innovative marketing opportunities. Curently seeking funding via a Kickstarter campaign, this one-of-a-kind fashion display cements a bridge between the worlds of design, technology and ... chamelions!

Closing thoughts on fashion:

Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irrestable urges and inevitable taboos. ~ Rene Konig

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