Recently, I had been working with Lisa Lang the cool and geek CEO behind ThePowerhouse to provide a Trend Report on the Future of Fashion and its links with Mobility.
It’s in four parts, the first part is called FREEDOM, an abstract of this trend on their blog was published on their blog, that I’m pleased to share it with you today ;)
To forecast the future, we asked Cecile Poignant who is a critical figure of this report to develop a bespoke study. She has been forecasting trends for over 30 years, she is a collector of thoughts, ideas, pictures, signals, and movements. With her collection, she then starts connecting glimpses of the future. The modern world doesn’t stop moving, and the fashion of the future will mold itself according to the needs of this world. For ThePowerHouse, she encapsulated the major long-term trends on Fashion & Mobility within four angles: FREEDOM, POWER, COLLECTIVE and EXCLUSIVE. These global trends we see forming today will affect the human experience of fashion in the near future, all under the umbrella of mobility — physical, mental, digital. She provided the structure and the foundation of this report and, of course, we wanted to intermingle our expertise into it. The result is a combination of Cecile’s expertise in trend forecasting and our expertise on Fashion Tech.
A Silent Mood
We are living in a very noisy world. Audio noise, video noise, information noise, mobility noise, and ambient noise are all competing for the precious resource of our attention. Recently the World Health Organization for the European Region declared environmental noise as among the “top environmental risks to health.” The WHO also released new guidelines on environmental noise pollution for the first time since 1999 and includes new sources of pollution which include wind turbines and “leisure noise” or music at nightclubs, concerts, pubs, fitness classes, live sporting events and through personal listening devices. Environmental noise has long-term impacts which can include hearing loss and lead to social isolation.
The more we experience noisy environments, the more freedom will be synonymous of finding a way to be in a silent mood.
Many products have already been introduced in the wake of open office plans and the need for more silence — for example, noise-canceling headphones. These headphones boost the signal-to-noise ratio and have been credited with helping people focus and are increasingly being used as sleep aids for some. Earbuds are also becoming more technically advanced. Flare Audio has just unveiled new earbuds that use metal to block sound instead of foam which absorbs sound.
We are now living in the “attention economy” where all the tech companies are competing for your attention. The more technology comes, the more we need to have the choice of disconnection and privacy. This choice protects ourselves from the vibes and disturbances coming from outside.
We can imagine that to protect ourselves, we’re going to use advanced hoodies that function as a second envelope around our head and that will give us the feeling of being free from demands on our attention.
Because of the foreign noise and distractions that we experience on a normal basis, we will see an emergence of a “New Minimalism”. The focus of New Minimalism will be about overcoming these disturbances: whether that’s on a browser, on a commute to work, in a crowded park space or while sitting at a dinner table. It’s important to note, that this new minimalism is much different than the minimalism experienced in the 80s and technology will be at the core of the future of fashion.
“FREEDOM is not decorative, it’s about efficiency, pureness and sometimes a bit massive. It’s simple and really evident. Of course, it’s about functionality and also about protection. We can easily imagine that in the future all the tech will be invisible and inside the garment. Just like it’s starting today with Jacquard by Google. The common devices that we use may end up being inside the garment or inside our mind to make it easier to manipulate and control.”
— Cecile Poignant
Through technological advancements we aren’t simply producing better products, we are also benefiting from a peace of mind. Sustainability is the new goal in the fashion industry and has been receiving lots of attention over the past year. There is wide recognition of the importance of sustainability being the focus of new products, which can only be achieved through new technology. Recently Nike developed Nike FlyLeather which consists of up to 50 percent recycled natural leather fiber. They were able to take a very classical item and produce it using fewer materials than ever before.
Beyond this, the New Minimalism is about apparel and accessories that are effortless but goal-oriented and efficient. But how will this translate into design? Details will become very important but more sparse at the same time. There will be changes in the way stitches are made to how buttons will be hidden under the fabric — devising a sort of blind or hidden design.
Freedom and anonymity will go hand-in-hand as face surveillance becomes naturalized in more cities. While we are constantly being monitored and tracked online, the lines will continue to blur between our online and offline selves. Being able to disconnect and become anonymous will become harder and harder to pull off. Soon, we will want to have the freedom to disconnect from the global web and other people with the idea in mind that we can become lost if we want to. This will result in hidden pockets, oversized hoodies, and backpacks that integrate into garments.
Apart from the environmental pollution mentioned above, we will also need clothing to protect against other environmental and technological influences which can include rain, sun, x-rays, radio waves and more. Google has already filed patents for “radio frequency shielded clothing” in which an individual can place a mobile device in their clothing but be shielded from any radio frequencies that may come off the electronic device. This type of garment or shield will be extremely important in 2020 when 5G will be available on most mobile devices.
While some garments are made to protect, others can help heal. Cell Solution is patented German fiber technology which is basically vitamin infused cellulose textiles that transfer Vitamin E to human skin. It helps regulate human skin moisture balance, repairs and regenerates skin, and helps detoxify free radicals.
There is also Graphene, the only material in the world to be awarded a Nobel Prize. It’s the strongest material that has ever been tested and conducts both heat and electricity, plus it’s also flexible and almost transparent. While how this can be utilized into accessories and clothing has only started to come to fruition — material technologists are eager. This material could give a lot of fluidity in the way we interact with the world, the way we travel and move about in a city. Vollebak is pretty much the only company that has started researching and testing it in clothing with the Graphene Jacket but they included the big disclosure that it was mostly still a part of research.
Low Tech Transportation & Protection
This story of FREEDOM is very much about low tech transportation and reducing exposure to air pollutants. Norman Foster proposed an architecture project with elevated bike roads in London, called SkyCycle. The whole idea was to construct upper roads where people can use bikes and also any kind of low tech transportation made with wheels: monowheel, skateboards, rollerblades and scooters, and commute around the city faster. This will encourage freedom from cars and emission-producing vehicles to rely on using your own individual energy for transportation. For now, the longest bike bridge is in China in a city that has low smog pollution and was built to encourage greener modes of transportation and prioritize bicycles over the use of cars.
As cities continue to grow and remain congested, alternative routes of transportation will come into view coupled with the idea that we need to be away from sources of pollution or protected from it. Air pollutants tend to be more concentrated closer to the ground which has a greater impact on smaller children. In a recent study by the World Health Organization, they found that 90 percent or 1.8 billion children are breathing toxic air leading to brain damage and health defects. Air pollution is so terrible that some are considering it to be the new tobacco to help individuals understand the dire need of curbing this pollution. Recent studies show that air pollution is killing 7 million people every year while damaging the health of others.
We will need to wear masks that are designed for protection. This could potentially be a part of a helmet that can protect your head and also your respiratory system or a simple mask. Right now it is common to see individuals in China or Japan wearing a facemask on the street to protect their respiratory systems from pollutants and infections. “Smog Couture” hit China Fashion Week in 2014 but will likely expand to other countries as pollution levels continue to rise.
This first trend – FREEDOM – is seeing that the future of fashion will utilize technology to help humans live with more freedom in a new age of mobility.