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Archive for December, 2017


WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY


Sunday, December 10, 2017

 

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Our clothes are probably some of the most tactile and flexible objects surrounding us – touching our bodies at all times. This is probably also why it has been such a hard job for designers and researchers to combine it with the stiff mechanics of technology. The term used when these fields are combined is Wearable Technology. Something that fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has been known internationally for exploring. But while Pauline van Dongens works primarily exist in the span of the human body interacting with its physical surroundings, I find it more interesting to research how technology can elevate our identity through clothing.

 

We use technology to perform our identities online.

We use fashion to perform our identities through garments.

Why not try to physically combine technology with clothes as a way of enhancing how we showcase our individuality and uniqueness.

 

“For wearable technologies to become truly integrated with fashion we have to bridge the divide between aesthetics and how we understand technology’s usefulness.” – Pauline van Dongen

 

 

FASHIONABLE TECHNOLOGY

It is obvious that clothes functions as a protective extension of the skin, but it is just as important that they help us form our individual identities. Our identities are ‘wearable’ and changeable through fashion, and have been so for a long time now. The new aspect of adding technology to this equation will hopefully be able to offer alternative and new ways of transforming our identities.

At the moment, there is already a lot of researching going on and a lot of solutions being proposed as to how wearable technology can change our current view of fashion. This research does not only include experiments like Pauline van Dongen’s, regarding the practical usefulness of technology in fashion, but can also have a more conceptual or aesthetic focus point. These projects become interesting since this is where a lot of the ‘identity-making’ in fashion occurs.

Ying Gao is another fashion designer dealing with the concept of technology intertwining with her designs. But in comparison to Pauline van Dongen she uses technology primarily for conceptual and aesthetic reasons. However, this still works in-between the human body and its surroundings, and doesn’t allow the wearer itself to manipulate his/her clothing. Something I think would be a logical next step with wearable technology.

Other research exemplifies how this self-initiated interaction might become possible. Several companies are working on inventions involving textile – such as touch-screen fabric. I find this study interesting because it is the steppingstone for making fashion truly customizable at any time. And not only by the external domain of a phone or computer, but by actual interaction with the textiles you put on your body. This idea of technology leading to a more tactile and touchable communication with your clothes – instead of it being dematerialized in a device – also takes technology in a totally new direction.

 

 

INDIVIDUAL TECHNOLOGY

Of course there is plenty of ways to approach linking the gap between aesthetics and the function of technology. Personally, I would find it interesting to see a solution where the link would manifest in news ways of projecting my personal identity. Combining the idea of a, supposedly soon-to-be, future where textiles can act as touch-screens, I have tried to conceptualize how technology can have an effect on fashion and its personal value.

 

DESIGNTHEORY2

Here I have made a video that visualizes this: Min film 7

 

 

There is no doubt that technological innovations will have a deep impact on the meaning and communication of fashion and thereby identity.

“[…] we have now entered an age in which technology is not only a bodily extension, but also a physical improvement, enhancement and expression.”

Throughout your life your identity is constantly changing, so it seems only logical to design new types of clothing that can follow your personal development. As my video suggests, this would be possible if clothing became truly obedient to your personal wishes and could be customized with your own hands. You could then at any given moment change the appearance of your clothing – and your identity. Although my experiment is limited to colors and patterns, you could imagine that even shape or texture could be transformable too, with the rate technology is developing.

Indeed, this way of customizing your style is already possible, but at the expense of a fast, unsustainable and trend-driven industry. If my (suggestive) model of wearable technology is realized, I believe that this would establish an intimate dialogue between body, mind and fabric – making fashion more valuable to the wearer. It is the relationship you have with your clothes and how it mirrors your personality and emotions, I find interesting to develop further with technology.

Pauline van Dongen’s vision is based on the belief that technology can add new value and meaning to fashion. She does this while focusing on the human body and an interactive relation to its surroundings. I believe, that it is just as important how wearable technology can add an interactive level to our projection of ourselves, and change our relationship with fashion on a very personal level.

 

 

What is Vetements doing to the fashion industry?


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vetements: pronounced vet-MAHN is French and simply translated as “clothes.”

Unquestionably there is something fundamentally wrong with the fashion industry and it appears that Vetements is challenging these tiresome conventions. The Design collective brings to light the lack of imagination and consciousness, utter egoism and instant gratification present in the fashion industry today. I have a deeply rooted love hate relationship for this industry and this is why I wanted to understand is Vetements really is challenging these problems.

Since its debut in 2014 Vetements has harshly divided opinions and been at the centre of controversy. Everything Demna Gvasalia has done with Vetements has been provocative in a high-fashion sense — rejecting the traditional fashion calendar, casting people on the street, letting them style themselves. The Parisian design collective was founded by eight designers seven of whom remain anonymous, except head designer and public face 34-year-old Demma Gvasalia. Gvasalia’s professional background includes senior design roles at Louis Vuitton and Maison Margiela and now also works as creative director of Balenciaga.

Fashion is no longer driven by creativity but instead by corporate leaders. It’s stale, we repeatedly see the same garments paraded on the catwalks each season, altered by their colour or fabric choice.To many, particularly to those connected to the industry, Vetements represents a refreshing turning point – yet I remain sceptical. It is hard for the brand to have conviction when its leading figure is also involved with one of the longest standing fashion houses – Balenciaga.

Vetement’s low-brow aesthetic and extravagant price point make it an easy target for skeptics. Whilst it is intended to look so incredibly blasé, so effortlessly cool, I believe it can be regarded as the exact opposite. Most famously they’ve used brands such as DHL to create T-shirt which retailed at a price tag of £185 whilst an identical T-shirt for £4.50 could be bought directly from the DHL Website. These T-shirts resemble something your dad was given as a freebie but now might only wear around the house. It is clear that they haven’t picked brand at random, instead they’ve carefully thought about something to evoke a feeling of ironic indifference.

It would appear the logo mania trend of the naughties is back. Yet whilst the earlier exclusive trend became a mechanism to denote prosperity and statues, it soon became an aesthetic trope in itself. It appears Vetements is redefining luxury with its attention-grabbing visual statement. Unlike the ostentatious symbolism used by brands before Vetements injects humour- a relatively unknown concept to fashion.

DHL’s bold yellow and red branding is recognised globally and has the grit of a working uniform. They have subverted something incredibly ordinary and given it and extraordinary twist. But Perhaps the ultimate irony is that there is almost no twist at all. The brand has done little to differentiate the original T-shirt from their own. I see it as a validation where the price tag seemingly justifies the garment. These garments are embraced and accepted which affirms the brands ideas of individuality and inclusivity. This raises an important issue for me that we depend on the industry elite to dictate to us what is ‘in.’

Vetements appears to opt for forced ugliness Gvasalia Has also said: “It’s ugly, that’s why we like it.” This aesthetic is very anti-fashion and seemingly sets itself apart from the crowd. It relies on repulsing mainstream tastes to create a feeling of exclusivity, an illusion that ordinary people “don’t get it.” I don’t believe it can be rewarded with the hype surrounding it. It’s not avant-garde, because it reactionary and contrarian and ultimately defined by the mainstream.
It is nothing out of the ordinary for fashion to not conform to conventional ideals of what clothing should look like yet with Vetements it raises interesting questions about their intent as they evoke a feeling of inclusivity representing the broad spectrum of sub-cultures appropriating their style yet selling it for astronomical prices. This is nothing new to fashion Vetements can be seemingly challenging and rejecting traditional standards of beauty.

This idea of incorporating logos into their work is nothing new. Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol used pop culture symbols in his paintings. Vetements is not doing anything radically new. The use of brand usually has a strong anti-corporate rebellion but DHL seems far too ordinary. Yet perhaps this is the statement they are trying to make, the ultimate portrayal of the ordinary challenges the unattainable glamour imposed by the traditional haute couture houses. I think the hype surrounding Vetements speaks more about how dull the industry is right now than the brand itself. But I think it’s such a cheap-and-easy grab for attention with grotesquely over the top clothing. It seems that they’re all novelty no substance.

Ultimately what makes the collective both interesting and infuriating is that it says something we already know— that the most exciting fashion is created by everyday people, on the street, being themselves. And then it takes that sentiment and distorts it with eccentric colours, crazy poses and absurd shapes, which makes it high-fashion again and this is nothing new to high-fashion. Yet I do think it communicates something very crucial about social identity and excepting everyone in society.

One thing that is overlooked at Vetements is the technical complexity that goes into their garments. Many of their garments are up cycled vintage garments which I think should earn them a lot more praise. For example their reconstructed Levi Jeans were made with two separate pairs which have been offset at the hem to give the illusion that they are sliding away. Other garments like the shirts that have been stitched together back-to-back are equally as impressive.

To conclude it is hard to see that Vetements are challenging the transient faddishness – the fixation of disposable novelty. Is it changing the game or is it just the latest fad? There is a relentless desire for the new and next and I believe this is fundamental what’s wrong with fashion. It’s infuriating and ultimately fashion industry really needs to slow down.

Community to change the system


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Dave Hakkens creates machines to recycle plastic. The concept Precious Plastic is that everywhere, everybody can build themselves these machines and recycle their plastics. For me, the most interesting point in this concept is the community around it. He says

“To start up an idea is a powerful tool to use these days. A designer is able to bring people together by just sharing an idea or a potential solution.”

 

Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible in two points.

Most of his design projects are often provides with open-source instruction videos and blueprints, so it is presenting as a do it yourself project. You can inform yourself, make your own machine or your design object, share on social network, and use it. Make and use these projects is to be active to change the system, and be a designer as well.

Furthermore, he is very active on social networks. On Youtube (with 122 000 followers), he often published videos to clearly explain his projects, how to make it etc. But also he has a certain way of life that you can clearly see in his videos called Story Hopper. Some links: here and

here.

If I had the opportunity to talk to Dave, I will ask him if he thinks that in addition to this solution to reduce plastics wastes we also must have to adopt a minimalist and zero waste attitude. And the answer is manifestly yes. These videos fit perfectly with the sharing of opinions and go further in the ideas that he wants to give. He offers more than just designer content while playing with the border of social network influencers.

Also on his website, you can find the forum where you can talk with people around the world. It’s nice to see all these people who said « I want to recycle plastics but I don’t know where to start » Finally I understood that in this big community, some other little communities are created to make projects easier. On the topic, someone answer: « try to find people, and build an association or something with many people to reduce costs!»

 

bojimansV3 Exhibition during the Dutch Design Week 

 

I am wondering how this concept can grow and evolve in the rest of the world. Are social media enough to share his ideas? The definition of the word community by the Oxford dictionary is: “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common“. Dave Hakkens and his projects are accessible for those who know him and who share the same interests. Plastic machines were at first introduced in a museum as an exhibition. So a certain public is interested to see it and in this kind of place, it doesn’t have the same purpose. It is difficult to apply something that you just saw in a museum. You can maybe just except to have a discussion but not really a revolution. What effect would he have if he presents his project in a hardware store? 

I knew Dave Hakkens thanks to my sculpture class at the Rietveld Academie. Indeed, some students were able to create one of the plastic machine, the injection machine. I spoke with one of these students and she gave me an interesting reflection: « He says that everyone can build those machines, it works for us because we are in art school, so we have all the materials needed and we always can find a way to be creative with the plastic machine, but not sure it’s the same in poorer countries, because it has a cost and maybe they did not hear about the Precious Plastic project»

 

PLASTIC MACHINEInjection machine in the Rietveld

 

Dave Hakkens went in 2015 to Ganah for research. Also just a few weeks ago, he shipped a big container to the Maldives, to clean ocean. It is important because “the risk” of this way of building plastic machines is to build them for a personal use or very restrained, as the weekend handyman in his garage. But create this container, place of many workshops to recycle plastics can expand the utilization. Indeed, it can not be an activity in its own right, but it should really be part of our way of life and as we can not spend our time recycling plastic, we may wonder if this community of active people is enough? What about the big industries? In fact, there is a start-up called The Plastik Bank which collaborates with the big industries. Plastic waste that invades the poorer regions of the world is collected by local people and then sold to companies that recycle it. But finally, Dave Hakkens gives the opportunity to communities to create something with plastic, be autonomous in the research and then win money (if they decide to). It is really like build something new, maybe a new society.

 

To say goodbye: very interesting article on other people who tried to find solutions for plastic wastes. 


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