MEMS in Hems: Is technology the new fashion statement?

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Last week, I helped run a conference with the London College of Fashion , earnestly entitled â''Micro and Nanotechnologies for Fashion and Textilesâ''. But I prefer the title used by one of the speakers for their presentation: â''MEMS in Hems."

I have helped organize other conferences that focused specifically on the impact of nanotechnologies on the textile industry. But this was the first time we tried to really hone in on the idea of how micro and nanotechnologies are impacting the way fashion designers and retailers approach their craft and business.

The guiding principle was if technology is the new fashion statement (with the understanding that people purchase iPods as much for their fashion qualities as for their technological capabilities), what new directions is this opening up for fashion and fashion designers.

While noted fashion designers like Helen Storey offered their latest work that brings together the disparate worlds of science and fashion: Wonderland, the question of how nanotechnologies are changing the way designers approach fashion is still somewhat unanswerable.

Technical textiles, such as stain resistant and odor resistant garments, offer new functionality, and ski jackets with an MP3 player built in are becoming increasingly de rigueur, but it has not quite reached the point where designers are imagining new styles, they merely see more functions.

In other words, we are not going to see on the runway soon biomimetically inspired coats that change color depending on the weather. But measured by the enthusiasm of students, who presumably will be the next generation of designers, we may very well see such things in the future.

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