Futuristic clothing isn’t so far away, considering Monday’s debut of “Impact!” an exhibition of wearables that are meant to reduce stress, adjust to changing weather conditions and expedite spending without swiping a credit card.
In step with its non-silo approach to education, The New School’s Parsons School of Design is spotlighting how students in fashion, product, lighting and strategic design, as well as management concepts collaborated on these special projects.
Part of The Seaport Culture District’s Downtown Design Festival, which opened Monday, “Impact!” showcases the work of Parsons students. Running through June 10 the multifaceted show is located at 117 Beekman Street, near Titanic Memorial Park. It celebrates the mash-up of different disciplines including designers, artists, scholars and technologists to highlight how they collaborate to work toward social change. With major brands such as Ralph Lauren and Fossil delving deeper into wearables, and Top Shop’s recent launch of Top Pitch, a sourcing program for innovative products and smart prototypes, the demand for technology-focused designers is only increasing.
Another element of “Impact” will be “Intel in Tech and Fashion,” a collection of wearable prototypes equipped with the Intel Curie module that reflect the wearer’s heath and self-expression. One team of students created four styles of jackets that consumers are recommended after completing an online personality tests. Each style is equipped with e-ink screens, which display the wearer’s interests, providing a makeshift personality profile.
Another team developed shape-changing garments, targeted at young urban professionals and students whose over-scheduled lives don’t allow time for any quick wardrobe changes.
Their project was inspired by the cuttlefish, which changes its shape and color depending on needs. Using traditional couture smocking techniques, the students sewed shape memory alloy wires into a draped dress with a slit skirt. The end result is two-garments-in-one that can change shape based on preprogrammed data that defines the wearer’s schedule for that day. (The Brooklyn-based label Chromat was the first fashion company to use the Intel Curie module for transformative purposes. The company’s Adrenaline dress extends the wearer’s sensory system to create a fight-or-flight mode that allows the garment to form an imposing shape.)
For “Impact!,” a third team of Parsons students dreamt up Tempus, clothing designed with sensors that learn the user’s physiological and behavioral patterns. With the help of an AI app, that information is used to help the Tempus-wearer relax, by triggering sensors that will massage different areas of the wearer’s body.
By using the Intel Curie, which relies on a button-sized battery, Intel aims to show how new smaller forms of sensors can be woven into fabrics. Students were challenged to consider such questions as, “How can we get beyond LEDs as the output? Is the response of the garment more subtle and felt only by the wearer, but with no visible sign?” “How can electronics be integrated into clothing so that it can be washed, charged and then safely disposed of?” “Are the most interesting forms of micro-movements your body within your clothing, the movement of a person in a car, or the movement of a crowd in a street?”
With the help of Tide laundry detergent, “Design For Care” features an assortment of garments that examines how consumers launder, repair, alter and wear clothing. The fourth element of “Impact!” is Local Studio, Made in New York — an assortment of items manufactured and sourced in New York.