When Fashion and Technology Meet

In science fiction, projections of what we might be eating or wearing in the future often fall some way wide of the mark. The 1960/70s space-age costumes, like those in Barbarella, are a far cry from reality and as a result look just as antiquated as the era’s Afghan coats and platform shoes.

But, technological advances are creeping into our clothes. Although they may not be the same as Marty McFly’s shrink to fit jacket, here are some things that may soon be creeping into your wardrobe.

Smart trainers

Starting with one that is already quite prominent among professional athletes and sports enthusiasts, certain running shoes now comes with sensors that track where and when you have been running. Some even have the ability to access your social network and update your friends where you have been and how health-conscious you are.

Motion detecting trousers

Similar to the smart trainers, motion detecting trousers have been created by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. They track your every move. Although it is a little confusing as to why anyone would want a computer to know exactly where they are at any given time, sensors embedded in the weave of the pants measure everything from the speed you are walking and the flexibility of the fabric.

Heat sense bra

One for the ladies, the heat sensing bra is also used by athletes. Using silver coated electrodes, it picks up information such as heart rate and relays it to a watch monitor worn on the wrist.

Marketing director of Says NuMetrex – the company responsible for the innovation – Meg Burich says: “It's a comfortable way to wear a heart rate monitor, because we knit flexible heart sensing fibres directly into the fabric of the garment. There's no hard plastic belt to strap around your chest.”

Grow your own

Fashion designer Suzanne Lee has been using green tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast to create a fabric she describes as vegetable leather. It can be grown over two weeks in a regular bath tub and then is folded around a special mould. She has so far made a dress from the material but believes it could work with other items such as handbags. The material can even be dried out flat and sewn as normal.

She believes this could be the future of a fashion industry looking for new ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

That's one way of utilising veggies, don't forget if things get to bad to bear you can always make your own gin, we've the Sandy Leaf Farm kit.


Another possibility of the future of fabrics, nanofibres are fabrics that have computer sensors inside them. Not unlike the clever trousers mentioned earlier, semiconductor polymers are built into, say, a t-shirt, which can perform tasks such as powering your iPod or monitoring your heart rate and brainwaves.

The idea has been developed by Joseph Wang and colleagues at the University of California. They print the biosensors directly onto clothing – men’s underwear to be precise. It is also hoped the futuristic fabric can be used to detect dangerous bacteria like anthrax or E.Coli. They could even help clothes change colour – whatever benefit you think that may have.