30 May 2006

Clothes make a statement electronically [Christian Science Monitor]

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Fashion changes faster than ever today – but what if you could change your style at the speed of light? That’s what MIT researchers envision if they can link clothing design to the Internet. In their “urbanhermes” scenario, consumers won’t have to wait for new designs to be fabricated and distributed before they can be bought and worn. Instead, consumers will have instant access to new designs and the ability to display them on the clothes and accessories they already own at the push of a button or the click of a mouse.

To these scholars, fashion is just another medium for communicating information, a way to show your place in the social hierarchy.

At the moment, fashion as a medium for communicating taste cannot change as quickly as electronic media do. You can only wear one outfit a day, and most of us have a finite supply of clothes. Clothing and accessories that can change their “look,” however, could make physical fashion as dynamic as Web culture.

The urbanhermes team has demonstrated its concept with a messenger bag that includes a sewn-in electronic display. But the project is not about technology or accessory design. It’s about creating a model for how we might integrate technology into our fashion experience.

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