XS Labs, Wearable Technology

XS Labs is a project of electronic textiles and wearable technology at Concordia University, Canada. The project is a joint working sphere between scientists and designers, who are interested in exploring the potential contribution of technology to textile and fashion. Joanna Berzowska, the founder of the project, is an Associate Professor of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University and a member of the Hexagram Research Institute in Montreal.
XS (Extra Soft) Labs highlights innovation in the fields of electronic textiles and reactive garments. The main aim is developing “second skins” that can enable computationally-mediated interactions with the environment and the individual. The research studio involves a group of scholars, designers and technicians who share an interest in the technical and cultural history of how textiles have been made for generations (weaving, stitching, embroidery, knitting, beading, quilting). They now seek innovative materials with new electro-mechanical properties that can construct complex textile-based surfaces, and items with “transitive” properties.
Joanna Berzowska, Design and Research Director, XS Labs

The group of researchers explore the theory and practice of innovative textiles and wearable technology, which respond to the body and the environment. However, their interest is not limited to the physical and practical application of the novel textiles, but also to the impact of “second skin” fabrics on individual identity and his or her interaction with society and the natural environment. Technology is for XS Labs a medium to achieve new aesthetics and design, and it emphasises the importance of cultural change to explain and give sense to new technologies.
Karma Chameleon is one of the project that emerged from XS Labs. It seeks to create composite fabrics that can storage body energy to harness power and utilise it to change the textile’s qualities. Inspired by the parasitic power of animals in nature, the fabrics challenge the material and aesthetic basic qualities of the garments we wear. The garment is no longer a solid cover for the body, but has a “life” of its own, dynamically dependent on the body. The result is a woven cloth that can change its color and illumination according to the energy it naturally extracts from the body, offering a new technical horizon for creators, designers and textile artisans who seek to challenge the conventions of their profession.
Cover Photo: Karma Chameleon, XS Labs, Joanna Berzowska (Design and Research Director), Maksim Skorobogatiy (fiber development), Tala Berkes and Lauren Osmond (fashion interns)
Photo Credits: Ronald Borshan