Functional Fashion; More than Just Clothes
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Technology and scientific innovation is something that continues to advance in leaps and bounds. These innovations have managed to trickle into the world of fashion as well, which has opened up a new frontier of what is now called functional clothing.
Of course this doesn’t mean just slapping a microprocessor inside a jacket of course (although that’s already been done). Functional fashion has a lot more scope than just linking into digital technology, and has easily become one of the most interesting frontiers of the fashion industry. While many functional fashion products aren’t mass produced at the scale we do with regular clothing, once it does hit the mainstream, functional fashion would be a movement not only to improve the quality of people’s lives, but also to protect the environment as well.
With climate change affecting the environment each year, it’s more important than ever to protect ourselves from the elements.
While us Sri Lankans in the tropics have to deal with warm, humid conditions, people who live closer to the polar regions have to deal with harsh, cold winters every year. To deal with the often sub-zero temperatures while outside, heated jackets have become a very popular concept.
For example, one of the best heated jackets in the game is the Bosch 12V heated Jacket, which has three warming heat zones (two in the chest and one in the back), and can stay warm for upto six hours in the lowest heat setting available, with medium and high settings draining the 12V battery a lot faster. It also has a USB charger to charge any of your devices on the go, and with five special pockets and compartments, you’ll never be challenged for storage space either.
Wind and water resistant fabric protects the wearer from the elements as well.
Functional clothing for sports
Athletes are constantly looking for ways to get a competitive edge over their peers when participating in competitions and tournaments, and clothing that is functional for that sport can make that difference, be it windproofing, waterproofing, or even how it allows moisture (sweat) to evaporate.
The new textile technologies used for such clothing have already made themselves present in the modern-day textile world and have paved the way for more comfortable and breathable clothing during the hot, humid days.
Functional clothing for tech
Wearable technology is already a mainstream subject, with smartwatches and fitness trackers leading the game. However, other wearables such as glasses with added augmented reality and other accessories that can be linked to technology have slowly gained traction among the tech community.
However, the pursuit of functional fashion that works seamlessly with technology has led to some interesting innovations. One of the best is Project Jacquard; a collaboration between Levi’s and Google.
Working together, the two have created the Commuter Trucker Jacket, the collaboration’s first mass produced article of clothing. Using the concept of connected clothing, people can use a special stitched lining on the sleeves of the jacket to control certain functions on their digital devices; something extremely convenient when on the go.
Commands issued by gestures are picked up by the jacket’s attachable processing unit called the snap tag, which also has a rechargeable battery. That way, all you need to do is remove the tag before throwing it in the washer.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg on what functional fashion that is imbued with modern science and technology can do. With innovation and technological advancement showing no sign of slowing down, the future for functional clothing is bright and will undoubtedly become used mainstream.