Fashioning the future
Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney plug in their digital crystal ball to predict how we will look and shop in 20 years time
Grace Guozhi for Viva Models Paris, photographed my Marc de Groot/Witman Kleipool for Vogue Netherlands
Frock Advisor’s Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney. Photograph: Barry McCall
A flirty future: Designer Ying Gao has created a collection of dresses that flutter when someone glances at them. Tiny motors in the fibres of the dress move in patterns when eye tracking technology can sense a lingering gaze. In a matter of years our clothing will be doing the flirting for us. Photograph: Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty Images
What will we be wearing in 20 years time?
Sonya: “Wearable technology, where your dress becomes your wifi hotspot, includes a life-logging camera, stretchy cotton nylon healing tape for wounds, silver-plated outerwear featuring positively charged ions to that will shield us from the electromagnetic rays of our multiple devices, all already exist. Fabrics that monitor health will become the norm. They’ll probably even set up an appointment with your doctor. 3D printing is the other really exciting development. You will be able to design and wear anything your heart desires. Moreso, when you’ve had your fun with it and want to buy something new, you will be able to recycle the garment into that something new. The odious task of recycling will cease to be.”
Will it be washable or will I have to plug it in somewhere to recharge?
Sonya: “Laundry will be no more. Fabrics will become self-cleaning. Smart fabrics will be able to eliminate dirt and body odour particles. Think of what you can do with the free time that will give you.”
Yes, but will it make me look good?
Brendan: “Clothing will give you that elusive six-pack stomach, toned calves and arms you’re not afraid to present. Already Puma has developed a tape that micomassages an athlete’s skin, keeping muscles toned for optimum performance. In the future this will be woven into the fabric of garments so that our bodies can exercise as we go about our working day.”
How will I shop ?
Sonya: “Independent boutiques and forward-thinking department stores will continue honing their hunter-gatherer skills, curating their selection of labels and, through technology, telling their people about what’s new. Those who are plugged in will know first. Those who aren’t will be left in the fashion dark. Retailers will be able to read all about you the minute you cross the threshold, and know how much you have to spend.”
But will there even be shops?
Brendan: “Fashion still can’t be downloaded like music, television and film can. For now it remains something tangible that you have to buy and physically wear. It is the last bastion of the unit sale and it is never going to go away. So physical shops have a role to play but they need to evolve, to create more theatre in store, or they will just become big changing rooms.”
Talking of changing rooms, can we hope for something more sophisticated than the badly lit cubbyhole with the gaping curtain?
Sonya: “The virtual fitting room is one of fashion’s big tech stories. The changing room as we now know it is an ongoing bugbear of women. That idea of taking off your clothes in a public space, the indignity of standing in your underwear under bad lighting and seeing every bit of yourself in three-way mirrors is not something we relish. Virtual changing rooms where you plug in a biometric scanner into your device will resolve many of these issues.”