Wearable Tech: Phone-Control Garments Charge Fashion Runways
Wearable technology and fashion
Consumers are already familiar with phones that can turn off lights, pay taxes, buy tickets and even change channels on the television. Permeating the world of fashion, wearable technology has now made it possible to use the phone to alter the way clothes look even if the user happens to be wearing them at the time.
Wearable technology in all shapes and forms has invaded the world of digital fashion as evidenced by the most recent Mercedes Benz Fashion Week show. England's Cute Circuit made its grand entrance with garments and accessories glittering with a multitide of tiny LED lights gliding majestically in unison with the models strutting across the lighted runway.
Phone-control garments and Cute Circuit
Ready-to-wear LED light-up skirts, blazers and evening dresses are the creations of British design duo, Creative Director, Francesca Rosella, and CEO, Ryan Genz, who for the last decade have been developing and harnessing the technology controlled by smartphones. Both admit that the tricky aspect is "the wearable part."
In an interview with Genz and the International Business Times he said: "We wanted to make things that were really cool and magical but we also wanted to make sure they could be integrated into clothes that people could actually wear."
The history of Cute Circuit
Launched in 2004 and based in Shoreditch, London's artisitic matrix, Genz and Rosella share their love of global fashion and are a presence at many conferences and events focussing on innovation and futuristic design. Some of the events they have participated in include: INK Conference, TEDx, Silk Roaad, PechaKucha Tokyo, IP Apparel, Smart Fabrics and Avantex. Their designs are known all over the world and have been featured in such significant industry magazines as: WIRED, ELLE, Textile Visionaries, Women's Wear Daily, TimeMagazine and Vogue.
How do phone-control garments work?
The user can control the garment in terms of color and pattern alterations by its connection to a smart-phone on a free app via Bluetooth. In Rosella's own words: "The mini-skirt has something called the brain inside...It is Bluetooth blue energy as well, and it has a very powerful chip on top that is like a computer. But it's really tiny. When your phone connects to the garment, you have an interface that allows you to change the pattern or color."
The fabrics they develop with LED are as thin as standard textiles, the only difference being embedded microscopic batteries. According to Rosella, "the clothing is amazing...You can't even feel it; it feels just like a normal garment...It's been a long time coming."
According to Ryan Genz, the Apple Store will soon carry the app and it will enable the user to control an entire wardrobe and download new patterns. The Cute Circuit design duo are optimistic about market reception to their wearable technology line. Their Ready-To-Wear collection launched back in 2010 and was the very first micro-technology-infused, interactive fashion showcase ever exhibited. The company has courted celebrity clientele since its inception when in that same year, Nicole Scherzinger wore its Twitter dress and Kate Perry sported a light-up gown at a gala sponsored by the Met Costume Instittute.
Interactive Haute Couture and Ready-To-Wear garments have permanently altered the fashion industry landscape just as wearable tech and geek-chic have revolutionized modern clothing designs. There's room for both, but watch out. Lovers of Cute Circuit innovations are savvy consumers in search of both stunning and timeless looks and garments that will allow them to dream and really express themselves.
M Dee Dubroff
Fashion and Technology Blogger