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

Sat, May 17, 2014, 01:00

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 ?
“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.”

What is a biometric scanner and how will it be used?
Brendan: “The future is about being able to buy garments and accessories that you can customise and personalise. A biometric body scanner can take up to 200 measurements to give a true sense of your shape and find brands that will fit it, or have garments custom-made to fit your exact shape.”

So a biometric scanner will deliver perfect-fitting clothes and make me feel like a goddess?
Sonya: Maybe not, but customised shapewear might.

Do you mean suffocating sausage-skin like undergarments?
“No! Imagine underwear that is custom-made to fit your exact shape and takes into account the different shape of each of your breasts. Bras that could make your breasts as perky as you wanted them to be on that particular day without padding. Imagine bottom-lifting underwear that is actually invisible, so as well as getting a derriere like Kim Kardashian you will be able to wear those tricky silhouettes with cut-out shapes, low backs or low sleeves.”

Where will retailers get their information about what we want?
Brendan: “Military-style data tracking will replace trend forecasters in informing what fashion does next. And speaking of military, an invisible fabric created for combat is already being trialled in ready-to-wear. The fabric appears opaque and has weight to it. When you wear it, chameleon-like, it mimics the environment around you, whatever form it takes. It’s a very modern take on Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility.”

Sonya: “Data will be more valuable than money. As big business amasses knowledge on the consumer it will be working harder to give the consumer what they want and also to continue to get them to spend more money. They’ve already identified 27 different types of shopper . Shoppers will become further divided into knowers and unknowers, the former becoming hunters of new cool labels, accessories and so on – and they will be rewarded for their knowledge.

Aren’t supermarkets already doing this?
Sonya: Yep, and Karl Lagerfeld has plugged into this, presenting next season’s Chanel ready-to-wear collection in a supermarket setting. The supermarket is now the laboratory of consumer behaviour, tracking your every move. Retinol scanners document how long your eye lingers and notes what you look at.”

Finally, heels that don’t hurt: tell me more
Sonya: “It never ceases to amaze how badly functioning so many expensive shoes are. You pay a lot for their design but the functionality is not there. The future is biometrically designed shoes customised to the shape of your foot, a virtual cast that you can return to to have designs personalised to your requirements. So we should finally be able to run in high heels.”

To celebrate the launch of Frockadvisor Sonya and Brendan have declared next Thursday to be Fashion Independence Day, when boutiques will break open the bubbly, invite customers to see their summer collections and offer special introductory discounts. For more, download the app at

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