Entertaining fashion

Sound, colour and transformations…

Hip science boffins and razor-brained fashion designers (or is this the other way round?) have formed a strange alliance to create mind-blowing clothes in the newly discovered area of ‘Smart Textiles’. From bonkers, Gaga- inspired threads, to more practical apps such as a bag which can charge your phone. Interested? www.fashioningtech.com  gives all the latest up-to-the-minute discoveries in fashion & technology.

Can you imagine these things happening to your clothes?

  • Wearing a white t-shirt which blooms into a thousand colours on the beach.
  • Your raincoat swinging patterns from boring to brilliant under a rain shower.
  • Rocking a dress which illuminates in time to music.

This is no longer Sci-Fi. Whole new waves of designers are creating clothes which transform under sunshine, rain and sound.

University chemistry departments have joined forces with fashion companies like Rainbow Winters www.rainbowwinters.com to create this reality. The ‘Rainforest’ collection uses magic inks printed onto clothes which change from clear to colour under ultraviolet (UV) light. Sunlight and UV rays alter the molecular structure of the ink, changing the fabric’s colour. Out of light the ink returns to its original state.

Electronics & textiles are all part of the dizzy, dazzling world of light-up clothing. It all kicked off with Katy Perry sporting a ‘CuteCircuit’ www.cutecircuit.com colour changing LED dress to the MET Gala ceremony. LEDs produce light in response to an electric current. Different LEDs produce different colours of light. They are typically used in devices such as signs, lighting and safety equipment. Superstar Fergie’s flashing LED costume by Anouk Wipprecht saw a staggering one hundred and eleven million viewers at the American Superbowl: http://www.v2.nl/lab/blog/from-lab-to-showbiz

Click www.sparkfun.com to try your own soft circuit LED projects at Spark Fun!

The ‘Thunderstorm Dress’ by Rainbow Winters  (pictured above) lights up in response to music thanks to electroluminescent (EL) technology and a sound-reactive sensor. EL panels are printable electronics made using techniques similar to a newspaper printing press. Sound triggers the sensor, zapping EL panels attached to the dress with an electrical current. We are taking ‘visual music’ to the next level! Check out the video: www.rainbowwinters.com/soundreactivevideo.html

The most recent invention, the ‘Liquid Bodysuit’ uses a stretchy textile which changes colour. Using the concept of ‘structural colour’. This relies on colour by diffraction, rather than absorption. It’s what gives tropical fish & butterflies their unique iridescent shimmer. Talk2myshirt has more pictures and info on this beautiful breakthrough: www.talk2myshirt.com

Fancy your chances as an inventor? Or an up-and-coming pioneer in smart textiles? Start by looking at nature and designing something which transforms – nature is forever transforming!











The images above show the petal dress indoors (on the left) and then the colour change that occurs when the dress is worn outdoors (on the right). Do you fancy having a go at this yourself? Do you think that your future career will be in this area? Then check out the links below to see where science and fashion together could take you…

  • fashion designer – designing clothing and fashion ranges, perhaps specialising in particular clothing ranges.
  • photographic stylist – working closely with photographers to create the right look and mood for the photo shoot.
  • garment technologist – supporting the designing and buying teams through all stages of product development.
  • dressmaker – making made-to-measure one-off garments and clothing for their clients.
  • An analytical textile technologist – using your knowledge of materials and your understanding of production techniques to solve problems in the manufacturing process.
  • textiles production manager – with responsibility for overseeing all stages of the textiles manufacturing process.
  • design engineer – researching and developing ideas for new products.
  • research scientist – planning and carrying out experiments to increase scientific knowledge within the area under investigation.
  • technical textiles designer – involved in the design and development of fibres and fabrics produced for their technical performance and functional properties.
  • quality control technician – checking that all products and processes meet national and international quality standards.