Wearable Lab: the Report

In order to take stock and support the future of the Fashion Tech territory, Première Vision Paris launched its Wearable Lab last February.A subject that matters to the industry and to Première Vision that has already decided to renew in its next events.

At the heart of Première Vision Fabrics, the Wearable Lab gathered:

  • An exhibit of 10 inspiring, experimental works – featuring clothing and accessories – testifying to the fast-moving developments in the Fashiontech scene over the past 10 years:
    Sarah Angold (England), Ezra+Tuba (Turkey), Ying Gao (Canada), Nervous System (USA), Pierre Renaux (France), Clara Daguin (France/USA), Anouk Wipprecht (Netherlands).
  • A showroom of 4 start-ups displaying their latest innovations and future goals, while proposing true future partnership to the professionals present:
    Digitsole (France), Percko (France), Spinali Design (France), Teiimo (Germany).
  • Curator : AnneSophie Bérard

Moderated by Noémie Balmat (Clausette.cc), A conference on “Fashiontech, future scene or utopia?”gathered almost 300 people around 5 experts to understand the issues driving the Fashion & Technology landscape and imagine its future.

  • Christine Browaeys (T3nel), Pascal Denizart (Ceti), Hilary McGuinness (Intel), Nelly Rodi (RI3lab), Anouk Wipprecht (Designer).

FASHION TECH: UTOPIA OR SCENE OF THE FUTURE?

Fashiontech is a fast-growing trend which offers new scope for imagination, new methods of production, and even a new fashion economy. Yet, it is an emerging field which is still difficult to analyse and fully apprehend. To discuss the subject, pioneers of the field have been invited at the Wearable Lab conference to present their vision of the future of wearable tech garments and identify the key stakes.
As an introduction, Gilles Lasbordes, General Director of Première Vision explains:

The Wearable Lab responds to Première Vsion’s will to take speech and commit with the movements and the evolutions of the fashion sector.
The challenge of this new space is to see how art, technology and creativity can reflect contemporary society. To build the Wearable Lab, Première Vision required the services of Anne-Sophie Bérard, an expert on the subject who has accompanied us since the beginning of this initiative.
Over the past fifteen years, experiments in the field of fashion and technology have accelerated. These are reflected in the development of wearable tech or fashion tech creations.

This new area of creativity and business offers new scope for imagination, new creative processes, but also new methods of manufacturing and production. And equally new distribution channels. Perhaps a new fashion economy?
We believe this trend is booming and truly structuring for the fashion industry.
Intel, and big fashion brands have really taken this field and run with it. The fact that they are investing here strengthens the idea that we’re exploring a field with roots and relevance.
More broadly, if we look beyond fashion, if we look to society as a whole, technology brings about profound and lasting changes and can augment skills, approaches and attitudes.

Noémie Balmat, the moderator of the round table introduces the topic and the experts:

Fashion is not only creative but can also transform our lives through new immersions of technologies and developments. The three main questions posed by our experts today include:
Where are we? What do we want to do? How do we move forward?

Christine Browaeys (Engineer and founder of T3Nel, France) gives her engineer point of view:
Nowadays technologies are all around us. Are we moving from virtualizing to materializing?
Textiles are a way for us to create a tangible connection to the world. Real world objects are connected to virtual ones, allowing us to connect with the entire world constantly. May this lead to an info overload?
We need the design of “calm technology” for a more human connection. Complex design problems facing society require cross-disciplinary approaches. We need to explore the implications this has on humans. Such paths include architectural and technological approaches that may widen the sector of fashion.

Hilary McGuinness (Director of Wearable Marketing at Intel, Munich) gives her industrial vision:

Located in the Silicon Valley, Wearable – the future is now – has been working for Intel for many years.
Industries are continuing to merge. This is no longer utopia but has already begun to become reality. In the past 10 years, there has been a movement forward, which raise new possibilities for fashion and tech industries.
Technology has always been part of fashion: Glasses, based on medical necessities; clocks solving the problem of putting the time on our wrists; fabrics becoming synthetic…
The fashion industry is already creating many innovations. Fabrics are becoming smarter, accessories are becoming connected. Technology enables our clothes to be seamless.
Tech fabrics are at an initial place with fabrics changing color; or technical fabrics in sportswear.
We are moving into new phase of the creation of textiles that must remain attractive enough while tech must stay hidden. In the co-systems, the product must be durable, washable, secure.

The questions: Who owns the data produced by these new products? what about the security of the customer?

Anouk Wipprecht (Fashiontech Designer, The Netherlands) brings her designer’s point of view:

“Fashion is about communication and connection. When I started to work 12 years ago, clothes were completely unconnected. The fashion industry has been really showing interest for three years. This interest started a dialogue between fashion, tech and textiles.
I have partnered with Intel and Audi for instance. As a fashion tech designer and hacker, I broke down an Audi car to create a collection of 12 dresses. Throughout the creation of these dresses I asked myself: how are we socializing? How are different dresses connected to the environment and to the personal body?
I measured the space around myself using sensors: light, speed, space. The dresses were not only connected to the person but also to the environment around.
It questioned the behavior of the person wearing the dress but also the behavior of environment.
Fashion is becoming an interface, and thus a tool.
Another question raised then: the wash ability and maintenance of tech clothes.

Also, how are they energized?

It’s the confrontation between development and marketing, prototype and industrialization of wearable products.
To do so, research must be interdisciplinary and collaborative. Make it open source- make and share with the community. Share one`s knowledge with the others. Such communities include fablabs, techlabs, which allow ‘common’ people to participate in a fully equipped working space, share their experiences and projects with their colleagues and the community.

Nelly Rodi (co-president of R3ILab, France) explains her vision of the future:

R3iLab has been creating a network of industrial companies for 13 years.
3 ‘I’ in the name of the company stands for: innovation, immaterial and industry.

6 projects were chosen by the company to be invested in:

  • Project 1: collaboration with MIT about sustainable energy to develop a naturally sourced textile; generating gentle warmth.
  • Project 2: develop a textile producing energy from solar energy.
  • Project 3: develop a connected textile with communication tool.
  • Project 4: corsetry accessory that transforms lingerie into a partner for wellbeing.
  • Project 5: bio serenity project; intelligent clothing item.
  • Project 6: weaving products – textile ground coating create sensory customized animation for sales and big event spaces.

There are important aspects to keep in mind:

  • What is the consumer waiting today? We are no longer in a consumption period. As a result, customers look for valuable products. Customers also look for a “surprise” element creating the `wow` effect. The consumer wants to dream and live new experiences.
  • Social empowerment: involving young and older people, involving brands and different people, giving sense to the product. Consumer wants to be involved in the production (ex. eco production.). Also the customer is interested in storytelling: not only ‘telling stories’ but also living with the products.
  • Subculture: representing the new consumer, representing the street, future potential consumer.
  • Singularity: product is unique, give feeling that the product is made for the person.
  • ART: increase creativity; the most important keyword.

Pascal Denizart (General director of CETI, France) presents a vision taking the product’s uses into account:

From the fiber core to the heart of retail; from the idea to the prototype… the way the consumer will use the cloth is crucial. What is important for the consumers is that the added value brought by their wearable clothes respond to a need, to an actual use. Environmental footprint is also now to be taken into account.
It’s important to focus on user and communities that are involved with the fashion industry.
Among the innovations that we’ve seen can improve the consumers’ relation to their clothes, the idea of “Phygital” fabrics (Physical + digital) is interesting, mixing physical and digital. For instance, you have this smart technology detecting stress thanks to new fibers.