Have you ever seen a dress that moves and I don’t mean move in the wind, but has parts that move by itself, or maybe a dress that serves cocktails or one that attacks people that come in to your personal space? Me neither and I swear that I am not making these dresses up. These dresses fall into a relatively new category of design called fashion tech and the designer that made the dresses I just mentioned are from the designer Anouk Wipprecht. You may have heard of her before, she is the leading designer in the field of fashion tech, actually people say she is ahead of our time. For her clothing is more than just fabric that keeps us warm and comfortable, she wants clothing to connect to you physically and psychologically, to have a bigger purpose.
Anouk started has started learning about fashion at the age of 14. She was interested in exploring the extent to which we experience fashion, this goes from emotional, intellectual to sensual aspects. As well as how we might be able to accomplish a better connectivity between the body and the clothing that we wear. By educating herself in fashion & technology she started to construct ideas about a world where people are looking for a physical but also a psychological connection with their clothing. This gave her the need to design towards this feeling of combining different platforms that
can trigger our behavior and the way we wear clothing.
This fascination drove her to start experimenting with the combination of fashion and technology, she did this by following workshops and moving
to Sweden to study “body, fashion & technology” at the Malmo university where she worked on Arduino-based application possibilities and smart fabric concepting to use in her creations. Later on she deepened her knowledge of the fashiontech field by assisting Sabine Seymour in Vienna, Austria and in 2010, she graduated at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht. Anouk Wipprecht creates impressive tech-enhanced
design combining fashion and technology, her design tend to go towards artificial intelligence as the wearer who is the ‘host’ caries a moving,
breathing system that reacts to the wearer and the surrounding.
“Our current society sees clothes as a ‘disposable’; –
designed to be used once and then thrown away. I think we
should be able to do this differently” – Anouk Wipprecht
Some of Anouk’s works are the Smoke Dress and Spider Dress these pieces are mostly dealing with creating more connectivity with ourselves and people around us in a nonverbal way. The Smoke dress which is fully 3D-printed, automatically creates a veil of smoke whenever someone enters the personal space of the wearer. The second exists of the animatronic limbs which move and are ready to attack when someone approaches the wearer too aggressively and create smooth and welcoming gestures to the calm approaches. Anouk finds inspiration in biomimicry; in nature, animals and their behavior, as you can see in the dresses she creates. Animals are irrational and unpredictable, because they haven’t learned how to react like humans have, she finds inspiration in how animals behave, socialize and interact. Looking at her Spider Dress which senses the surroundings and
attacks, it looks at the reaction of a spider as the name of the dress implies, or her Smoke Dress, based on the octopus, when it releases smoke to
escape and hide.
Wearing these dresses makes it easier to show the surrounding people when the wearer feels uncomfortable and expresses these feelings
without saying a word. Anouk doesn’t only focus on physical issues but also psychological problems, one of her more recent projects is focusing on mental health. The Agent Unicorn is the name of this new project, it explores the behavior of children with ADHD, kids who are more active than other people. Agent Unicorn is a hairband, which is also 3D-printed, it is shaped like a horn and contains a camera and EEG Electroencephalography) sensor. It’s a design for children that is playful and comfortable, so they like to wear them. When there is a string signal the EEG sensor turns the camera on to record the child’s view. With
this product we can get a better understanding of what excites or distracts children with ADHD having different experiences.
Fashion of 2050
A question a lot of us probably have after knowing all this is, is this the future of clothing? Do we all start wearing interactive garments? I don’t know, the idea of interactive clothing is really cool and brings a lot of advantages, a lot of people would feel attracted to it. But do we all want to share our shyness with everyone in the room, like the Smoke dress would. Nowadays a lot of people act differently because, they don’t want to show how they really feel, a perfect example of this is social media, do we show
people when life is just shit or we are having a hard time. NO my life is perfect! And apart from this issue how are you going to power all these
electrical garments? Or do you know how you are going to wash this piece of clothing filled with electrical parts? Even though we can be very critical and there are many things we still need to find out concerning fashiontech, we have to keep in mind that this is a relatively new category. There are so many new possibilities, like more sustainable clothing and health advantages, both physical and mental. The work Anouk does could battle fast fashion, because do you really need 10 jeans? And Just imagine you come back home and you put your garment in the closet where it gets charged and dry-washed and does all those things by itself.
Fashiontech is something that will be used in the future, but to what extent and when that is the question to ask.
Fashiontech: as the name implies it is a combination between two industries, the intersections of a venn diagram, each circle owning tons of innovation and creativity in their fields. One the on the one hand the technology industry and the other the fashion industry. However, the scope of fashiontech is rapidly expanding, as newer technologies present a multifold of opportunities. Many designers in this category are primed to explore the boundaries of the venn diagram and broaden those overlapping layers of fabric, code and electronics.
text CLAIRE VOS
graphics JASMIJN VUGTS
media DIEDE VAN MARLE