in the future our clothes will be eco-friendly, high-tech, emojis

“We’ll understand what the true cost of the materials are.”

by Wendy Syfret and i-D Staff
02 December 2015, 5:50am

Image via YouTube

Fashion is obsessed with the future. We're so fixated on what's next we go so far as to have our seasons months ahead of the rest of the world. As a result of our preoccupation, the fashion landscape often serves as a window into the wider trends that will eventually flood all areas of our lives.

Historically, fiscal and social conservatism could be mapped by hemlines, while the sexual and gender revolutions hit fashion years before they rippled in the mainstream. Every day designers push boundaries mere mortals haven't thought to bump up against. Considering this, and the fast approaching end of the year, i-D was interested to see how a futurist thinks about fashion.

Kristina Dryza actually prefers the term "nowist" to futurist. While it's not quite so catchy, she says it more accurately reflects her approach to forecasting social, design, and technological trends. The way she explains it, "people think of the future as another time separate from here, but the future is evolving now".

Hey Kristina, can we start by talking about the intersection of technology and clothes?
Sure, we'll see the rise of technical luxury—like the FitBit mentality—we'll want performance from everything. If you venture 20 years out, nanotech will allow manufactures to build function into clothes. Clothes will be a second skin, containing health biometric sensors and connected to the internet of things. They'll be about more than looking good, they'll be about helping us feel good as well.

Also I think the capturing and communicating of emotions around technology and fashion will be really interesting.

What do you mean by capturing emotions?
You will be able to see how someone is feeling based on what the sensors in their clothes are saying. So not just saying, "we noticed her breath quickening, I think this person might be having an asthma attack". But rather being able to show how you feel, like we use emojis now.

Is 3D printing ever going to be a dominant thing? It feels like it's struggled to find it's place outside of experimental fashion.
I think the important element of that is how 3D printing removes the waste process. There is just so much waste in fashion.

There is a whole debate around obsolescence—discarding things that are perfectly usable—and I think we can say the same about fashion. A lot of slavery and environmental ruin is linked to fashion. It's about pulling down the veneer to see that it's actually a really polluting industry.

I'm always trying to teach my clients to think cyclically not linearly. When we don't see the world in a cyclical process, we don't question how things were before us, or how they'll be after us. 

We've become more interested in where things were made, how the material was produced, what the people were paid, less interested in what happens after. We'll see that when clothes from the likes of H&M and Zara go to landfill they're as dangerous to the planet as McDonalds is to our bodies. We'll understand what the true cost of the materials are.

So sustainability will remain a focus?
Yes, and I think fair trade labeling is going to move far beyond was it is—we want greater traceability and to be able to visualise the supply chain. I think we'll see a real growth in cause related brands as there is a switch in the mindset from buying and wearing fast. Now there is a global consensus around those issues—but people still say, I still want my tank top for five dollars.

People know about the supply chain, and working conditions, but they don't question how this can be so cheap or of someone has to pay somewhere. But as we have a more global mindset, we're going to be able to see that more and more.

The sustainability issue kind of butts up against the rise of technology. Looking at something like fabric, will we explore more natural options, or refine synthetic ones?
At the moment, the fashion industry is too reliant on precious natural resources like cotton with manufacturing processes that produce all this waste. We'll see different natural options like leather alternatives made from pineapple leaf fibre.

At the moment we see nature as the it and not the us. But as our lives become more artificial, and we struggle with the blurring of the virtual and real worlds, people are going to want to go back to wearing things that connect us to nature. We feel better around organic materials. But who knows what's gonna be coming out of a test tube.

What do you find yourself wondering about when you think about fashion?
Questions around things like gender neutral clothing—how does that change the price structure of things? How do we value the technology embedded within clothing? How will globalisation impact regional dress? Fashion is such an expression of life, we have to look at all these things that are germinating while we talk about fashion, whether economic, political, social, or environmental.  


Text Wendy Syfret
Image via YouTube