Fashion is a significant element in UAL and deserves a specific focus in this week’s supplement on innovation.
We will be looking at the developments in fabrics, materials and the design processes that go into creating new, unique pieces in the changing world of fashion, whilst also focusing on attention on fashionistas who have created dynamic developments in materials and textiles.
The London College of Fashion’s digital print bureau has revolutionised the way in which printing on fabric is done. Digital textile printing can reproduce any computer-rendered image on fabric with no limitations to the amount of colours that can be printed in a single design.
Using the technology found in an ordinary printer, artists and designers are able to save time and cost.
London College of Fashion
Another important step in fashion design from LCF is 3D body measurement, which uses white light technology to capture 3D data points of an individual’s image, automatically extracting hundreds of extremely accurate measurements and enabling designers to create the perfect fit.
Sustainable fashion also deserves special attention. The 2008 Wonderland project by designer Helen Storey and Sheffield University Professor Tony Ryan, set about trying to create a collection of dresses that would degrade into nothing after a couple of days.
Storey says the ethos of the project: “was to use the dissolving dresses as a metaphor to shine a light on the wider issues of sustainability and ethical living.” It culminated in an installation, which was exhibited at LCF.
Chelsea Although LCF is the trailblazer when it comes to developing fashion design and textile development, Chelsea has had a considerable influence on fashion innovation. Textiles environment design (TED) was set up in 1996 and is a collective of practising educators and designers.
The project aims to look at the role the designer can play in creating textiles that have a reduced impact on the environment. There is a long list of contributors working for this organisation. Among them is Kate Goldsworthy, who is working on a PHD entitled: Textile Design, Material recreation and forward recycling of synthetic waste for the luxury textile market.
Her project is centered on recycling left over textiles to create new clothes. It concentrates on improving efficiency in the final stages of a garments creation as well as reducing the use of chemicals, therefore benefiting the environment. Kay Politowicz, Professor of contemporary textiles and TED project leader, is currently researching conductive and light giving textiles for interiors. Her project pays special attention to the ability of fabrics to carry light technologies as well as colour and pattern.
Senior lecturer at Chelsea Isabel Dodd is exploring non-chemical ways of fabric sculpting. Dodd is currently using screen-printing techniques using rubber to create patterns to manipulate the fabric for fashion. She has been developing a technique of embroidering fabrics then passing them through a solution of caustic soda to distort and twist them.
LCF and Chelsea are pioneers when it comes to the use of innovative textiles. However there are some innovations that have a made name for themselves without UAL assistance.
Stomatex-Neoprene Stomatex is a material that: “breathes like a leaf.” Chambers in the fabric create a self-contained micro climate allowing cooler drier air to pass through at a controlled rate to keep the skin free of perspiration and maintain an ideal skin temperature so that body heat, blood flow and compression remain consistent through any from of exertion.
Energy outfit Soft Switch combines composite and conductive technology to produce wearable electronic fabrics. This means that you can walk, run or jog without having to touch your ipod whilst changing tracks and increasing volume simply by using the built in keypad located on a sleeve or your chest.
Micro encapsulation the technology was developed in Japan and involves capturing fragrances and containing them within the fabric. The fragrance is released when the material is rubbed together.