Monthly Archives: February 2008

Electric Fashion

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As a design consultant to Dupont Soft Textiles and Interiors (previous to their sale to Koch Industries) my role was to help develop new uses for conductive fibers (a smart textile as light as thread). When sewn into a garment, the conductive fibers transport electricity around the body. Why would anyone want electricity in clothing? Simple, conductive fibers made the Burton AMP jacket, Nike IPOD and Adidas POLAR collaboration possible. Conductive materials have advanced quickly. They are extremely light, flexible and waterproof, an effective way to integrate electronics, lights and displays into fashion.

Then why is electric fashion not more popular? The power-source creates limitations. Batteries are expensive, short lived and require extra maintenance.

I am now focusing my research on the development of organic power sources.

“Scientists have developed a way to generate electricity by jostling fabric with unbelievably tiny wires woven inside, raising the prospect of textiles that produce power simply by being stretched, rustled or ruffled by a breeze,” says Brian Bergstein of the Associated Press.

This innovation uses nano-technology and the piezoelectric effect, in which electricity is generated when pressure is applied to certain materials.

The prospect of using pressure created through normal interaction to power electronics integrated into a garment is exciting. Not available at retail just yet, the Georgia Tech innovation is sure to change the future of fashion. NATALIA ALLEN

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Ten Trends to Top

My synthesis of the most significant trends impacting design, commerce and the success of global brands.

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1 Internet- the Wild West of the First-World
Approximately 2 Billion users and growing. The World Wide Web is the future of interaction. Brands must develop intelligent and creative strategies for how to effectively utilize the Internet.

2 Diversity- the Second-World is gaining
Cities such as Sao Paolo, Buenos Aires and Qatar are rapidly rearing a middle-class eager for aspirational products.

3 Environment- Green is the color of choice from fashion to fuel
Sustainable products and practices are top of mind with consumers. From luxury to mass-market the audience is aware and choosing to side with the environmentally conscious.

4 Innovation- New is never new for long
A buzz-word with real meaning. Global corporations shall look to technology and creative ideas to distinguish and revitalize sluggish performance. Studies show that consumers continue to choose technologically enhanced products at retail 2 to 1.

5 Travel- Mobility is key
Increased space travel, domestic and international flights are a big part of our future. An emerging foreign middle-class that demands inexpensive travel coupled with a new wealthy-class that is willing to pay for on-demand jet service has created a boom, here to stay.

6 Super Luxury- Personalized exclusivity for the exclusive
Traditionally high-end designers frequent collaborations with mainstream retailers have led to over accessibility of luxury branded products. In response, a new category called Super Luxury is the future. Brands will reclaim ownership and focus on core customer specific designer products.

7 Egalitarianism- the most accessible is best
While luxury brands strive to be most luxurious, mass-market brands are becoming more accessible. Providing style and taste to the majority at a low price point will continue to be important for retailers and designers.

8 Alternative- Anti-mainstream and extreme everything
The popularity of dance movements such as Techtonik and sports such as snowboarding are a small example of the power of the underdog. Many customers identify with lifestyle brands that provide the feel of being emerging and alternative.

9 Slow Fashion- the anti-thesis to Fast Fashion
A classical approach to purchasing, dressing and selling apparel, where time is not sacrificed and permanence is the goal.

10 Wellness- Healthcare outside of the hospital
A promise of longevity and prosperity influence what consumers choose to buy, from fashion to food. Products that genuinely promote balance and healthfulness shall continue to be popular in global markets.

Please email innovate@designfuturist.com for more information.

Copyright © 2008 NATALIA ALLEN, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Fashion Influencer

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At a recent lecture at the New school University, I was asked by a student to give my opinion on the most influential factor to the future of the fashion industry. My reply, “The Internet is the single most important new factor in the success of a fashion brand”. Don’t take my word for it, as of September 30, 2007; 1.244 billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats.

The Internet is a platform for a second-world. Like it or not, most people live, play, learn and communicate on the Internet in near equal proportion to physical reality. After years of record spending on the Internet, brands are finally moving to establish a presence. I believe this is the beginning of trend that will mature and increase.

In less than 20 years, Internet technologies have made large strides and the future looks bright. Bandwidth will increase, as will the amount of households that own a networked computer. New generations rich and poor will be connected through the Internet. Therefore, brands will need to develop a sophisticated Internet strategy to stay relevant, global and ahead of competition. NATALIA ALLEN