The Future of Fashion

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Last week I attended a talk hosted by Grazia as part of their #Grazia10 series, a week of events celebrating a decade of the women’s mag. ‘The Future of Fashion’ was the evening’s talking point, with LCF lecturer Dr. Carolyn Mair, Francesca Rosella from wearable tech brand Cute Circuit and Joanna Tulej of trend forecasters The Future Laboratory providing some expert insight on the topic.

Now social media is great for accumulating random knowledge, but nothing quite matches a good debate in the flesh. The talk was held at the Getty Images Gallery, just north of Oxford Street, impressively decked out with exhibits charting celebrity culture and the magazine’s coverage of it over the last 10 years. There was also a display of fashion gizmos on one wall specifically addressing this talk, including a weather predicting cape and jewellery that screens your emails (useful for deleting the stream of Nigerian cash offers I get from owning a web domain).

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It was a little disappointing that the talk didn’t discuss these objects more. I’d have loved to hear more about the sci-fi garments designers and technologists are dreaming up. The agenda was actually much closer to home: sustainability and promoting better working conditions for garment workers were key, as well as greater personalisation (i.e. no more standardised sizing). A positive development for those of us with strange proportions.

And despite those tantalising bits of technology in the display, its great that the panel tackled the talk’s overarching question with realism. Fashion’s evolution should focus on addressing existing problems than introducing pointless tech innovations or silhouettes that seek to reinvent the human form.

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A vision of the future, or a new way of recycling Christmas decorations?

Physical shops aren’t about to die out either. As Francesca Rosella noted, people will always appreciate “seeing, touching, trying on items before you buy them”, something that vintage shopping lends itself to particularly well. Shops like Radio Days in Waterloo, offer a genuinely pleasant retail experience, with friendly, knowledgeable staff, highly ‘Shazam-able’ music and thick rails of vintage treasure.

No fashion talk would be complete without mention of Apple’s new iWatch, which was unveiled today. The panel seemed a bit sceptical about this, highlighting an ugly green version of the product that was showcased in a Vogue advertising spread. Rosella pointed out that “many companies are trying to launch these technologies, but they’re not fashion companies, and it shows!”

So there you have it: technology and fashion haven’t quite linked up in an aesthetically pleasing way yet. Its fun to hear about concepts like headwear that can control your mood – seriously, Tulej mentioned that this exists (a company called Think Headware, although I can’t find any evidence of it online) – but really, there’s still a way to go before we start to resemble The Jetsons.

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