Call it a fashion find. Material ConneXion — a consultancy AND research center for architects and designers — is stepping up its offerings for the fashion industry. “After fine artists, I think fashion designers are the most innovative artists out there,” says George M. Beylerian, founder and president. “Our goal is to open up our world to theirs. It would be great, for instance, to see a fashion designer take a geo textile and use it in one of their designs.” And Andrew H. Dent, PhD, vice president of library and materials research, says he envisions an array of endless possibilities. “We’re trying to make a concerted effort to look for more apparel textiles that will appeal to the fashion world at large,” he says. “Things that are wearable.” The task, however, has proven to be a challenge for Dent, given that many of the materials that come his way are highly functional, often making them less than aesthetically pleasing. “Fashion is not solely about function, and because our focus has always been performance, it’s been quite interesting to research things that are functional, yet look great as well.”
Bekaert Fibre Technologies, for example, has produced a knitted steel for military use in conductive textiles. Dent sees the look translating to fashion: “It’s extremely strong, but still appeals to the fashion crowd because it’s so cool-looking,” he says. Here, a sampling of some of the most interesting — not to mention stylish — fabrics to hit Dent’s desk.