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Technology Meets Textiles: The Future of Fashion Design

The digital era has forced most industries to reflect on their own processes and products, ultimately requiring many to change and adapt to the times. The fashion industry is no exception, with industry thought leaders learning how technology can complement and advance the world of fashion.

The Rise of Smart Textiles

Not only has technology transformed the fashion design, production and manufacturing processes, but it actually has changed the types of clothes that we wear on a daily basis. Smart textiles and wearable technology in fashion are rising in prevalence and popularity, with more people finding uses for this advanced and intuitive technology in their daily lives.

What Are Smart Textiles?

According to Medium, smart textiles are interactive clothing items that rely on technology to cater to the unique needs of the individual wearer. Sometimes referred to as smart fabrics or electronic textiles, smart textiles are created with technological components embedded into the fabric. This opens a whole new world of possibilities for fashion designers.

Applications in Fashion

Smart fabrics are being used to create interactive wearables, such as:

  • Jackets that can automatically adjust their temperature to suit the personal comfort level of the wearer.
  • Button-down shirts that not only look great, but also monitor your heart rate.
  • Dresses that can resume to their original shape after being worn, despite the size of the wearer or frequency of use.

Considered to be some of the most awe-inspiring and magnificent technology of the digital era, smart textiles are beginning to reshape the scope and focus on the fashion industry.

Digital and 3D Fashion Design

Fashion design software has advanced to the point that digital and 3D fashion design has become the norm in the industry. It allows designers to stretch their boundaries and move forward in ways that previously would have been impossible.

3D Printing in Fashion

3D printing in fashion has ushered in an era of true customization, allowing fashion designers to create and develop one-of-a-kind creations that can be tailor-made for the individual client. Not only does 3D printing in fashion allow for more personalization in design, but it is also a more sustainable option for fashion designers.

Virtual Fashion and Digital Clothing

Just a few decades ago, the only way to display clothing and promote fashion products was to bring in an array of models and have them try on multiple pieces for photo shoots. Today, advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality technology allow designers to use virtual fashion and digital clothing to market their products. Digital clothing is defined as virtual 3D fashion designs that can be created using advanced fashion design software and superimposed onto digital avatars in a way that looks realistic and authentic.

Sustainability and Technology

The fashion industry must make great strides to become more sustainable and eco-friendlier. The global fashion industry accounts for more than 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, highlighting the importance of sustainable fashion design and production. Fortunately, technology in fashion design has the power to make the industry much more sustainable than it has been in recent years.

Reducing Waste Through Tech

The precision and efficiency of technology can help significantly reduce the waste produced throughout the fashion design, production and manufacturing processes. For example, 3D printing fashion allows designers to digitally create their designs and utilize avatars to evaluate, examine and promote the products they are creating, which significantly reduces the amount of waste being produced in the industry.

Biotechnologies in Textile Production

Biotechnology in textile production is revolutionizing the fashion industry. Biotechnology allows fashion designers and manufacturers to utilize natural, organic components to make stronger, better and more sustainable textiles. Not only does this practice reduce waste and improve sustainability efforts, but biotechnology in textile production is also resulting in superior fabrics.

Wearable Technology and Fashion

The advent of smart technology has ushered in the wearable technology era, in which people prefer to have smart devices as part of their outfits. Perhaps the most notable form of wearable technology is the smartwatch, but continued advances in technology have led to the development of other types of wearable technology in fashion.

Integrating Electronics

Smart fabrics are textiles that include electronic components, and they offer seemingly limitless potential within the fashion industry. Several types of smart fabrics include:

  • Thermochromic fabrics — These fabrics include electronic components that allow the fabric to automatically adjust its temperature based on the conditions and according to the preferences of the wearer.
  • Conductive fabrics — These fabrics can transmit electrical signals, making them crucial to the development of wearable technology in fashion.
  • Illuminated fabrics — Embedded with LED and other light technology, these fabrics are ideal for those working in safety and construction.

Health Monitoring Clothes

Wearable technology in fashion is about more than just convenience and comfort. It is actually beneficial for the health and safety of the wearer. For example, health monitoring clothes are created with smart textiles embedded with electronic technology that can capture health data and monitor health conditions. To add, there are now shirts on the market that will monitor your heart rate each day and alert you if your pulse gets too slow or too fast.

AI and Machine Learning in Fashion Design

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are revolutionizing our world, and no industry is immune to the impact of these incredibly advanced and intuitive technologies. AI and machine learning in fashion design are allowing the industry to become more inclusive, sustainable and, ultimately, creative.

Automating Design Processes

For hundreds of years, the fashion design process has always been a manual, human-driven process. However, in recent years, AI technology has ushered in an era in which automatic design is possible. Plus, in many cases, it’s preferred to the traditional, manual processes. AI technology allows fashion designers to collect data regarding previous designs and customer preferences to instantly create new and innovative pieces that uniquely appeal to today’s consumers.

Personalization and Customization

Fashion tech startups and other industry thought leaders have found that AI technology in fashion can be leveraged to provide all consumers with the opportunity for personalization and customization. By making custom, tailor-made creations more accessible and attainable for all, the industry can further its reach and ensure that all consumers feel seen and valued.

The Impact of Augmented Reality (AR)

By blending the physical world with virtual reality, augmented reality has the power to revitalize and revolutionize the fashion industry. Augmented reality fashion relies on digital technology to superimpose digital fashion design creations onto images of humans, allowing people to develop a better understanding of what a garment might look like on themselves before they purchase.

AR in Shopping Experience

Augmented reality fashion is redefining the experience of shopping. Nearly everyone understands the frustration and exhaustion of trying on clothes in a fitting room, only to find out that nothing fits quite the way that they expect. With augmented reality technology, consumers can utilize an image of themselves to visualize how garments may look on them. It personalizes the shopping experience, and for many, it makes the process of buying new clothes fun and enjoyable once again.

Design Development With AR

Augmented reality technology can also streamline the design development process. Designers can rely on advanced AR technology to unveil their collections through interactive fashion shows and provide virtual try-on experiences for focus groups. This allows them to make changes and adjustments sooner in the design process, ultimately streamlining production and reducing the amount of waste produced as a result.

Challenges and Ethical Considerations

While advanced and intuitive technology has opened a new world of possibilities within the fashion industry, there are still challenges and ethical considerations to keep in mind. Fashion designers must be aware of the implications of using some of these advanced electronic components in their design process as well as in the garments that they create. Ultimately, transparency will be key in the era of tech-savvy textiles.

Privacy Concerns With Smart Garments

The average consumer is going to be inspired by the sheer power of smart garments, with smart textiles allowing them to feel more comfortable and confident in the clothes that they choose to wear. However, most of these smart fabrics are also designed to collect and store data, which highlights the importance of data privacy in smart garments. Fashion designers must be able to provide consumers with reasonable assurance that the data collected through wearable technology in fashion is stored securely and used in an ethical way.

Ethical Manufacturing

While technology is improving the sustainability efforts of the fashion industry, leaders also must be sure to prioritize ethical manufacturing processes. Even with advancing technology, workers in the fashion industry, especially those in manufacturing and production, should earn fair wages, work in safe and comfortable conditions, and be respected as essential members of the team that brings the fashion world to life. Blockchain technology can be used to ensure that all steps in the fashion lifestyle are performed in a fair and ethical manner.

Future Directions

From digital textile printing to wearable technology in fashion, technology will continue to drive the fashion industry forward. Consumers across all demographics will begin to see changes in how clothes are designed, developed, manufactured and produced, ultimately making the industry more inclusive and accessible to all.

Innovations on the Horizon

Fashion technology innovations that are on the horizon, and are expected to make their mark on the industry, include:

  • An increased prevalence of AI and AR technology in fashion, with more people relying on virtual try-on technology and other online fashion experiences.
  • An influx of advanced wearable technology in fashion, which will soon be available to more consumers across all demographics.

The Role of Technology in Fashion’s Future

From digital garment printing to biotechnologies in textiles, technology is going to play an increasingly prevalent role in the fashion industry. Those looking to launch a career in fashion or work at one of the inspiring fashion tech startups will want to become familiar with the latest fashion design software and other advanced technology to maintain their competitive edge in the job market.

Develop Your Digital Fashion Design Skills at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

Fashion is one of the most forward-thinking industries, with its thought leaders always keeping an eye on the latest trends, the most sustainable practices and the most innovative design techniques. At Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, you can future-proof your career in fashion by earning our on-campus Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design degree or online Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design degree. This comprehensive degree program focuses on fashion illustration, textiles, pattern making, CAD fashion design software , and product development, allowing you to develop the skills needed to break into this creative yet competitive field.

Request more information about our on-campus and online degree programs today.


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