Fashion Futures

by Curtis M. Wong

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 14, 2012

Fashion Futures
  (Source:Merrell Publishers)

Given the advent of social media, interactive technology has become a critical factor in how we conduct even the minutest details of both our personal and professional lives. Hence, it should come as no surprise that the fashion world has been similarly impacted, with transformational products and state-of-the-art retail operations now becoming standard among the current crop of budding fashionistas around the world.

Such is the message of Bradley Quinn's "Fashion Futures," which takes an in-depth look at how advancing technologies and new materials "are reinventing clothing as we know it." A London-based writer and journalist, Quinn didn't seek to create a forward-thinking fashion bible nor even a comprehensive overview of haute couture of the moment; "Fashion Futures" occasionally reads more like Popular Science or Wired than it does Vogue magazine. Though esoteric in points, the book nonetheless takes an intriguing look at the composition of fashion in the 21st century.

The 238-page, six-chapter "Fashion Futures" certainly looks the part that its title suggests. Among the more eyebrow-raising designs you'll spot while scanning the photographs: outfits crafted from body-scanning technology which maps the wearer's body shape, garments produced using 3D printing technology, and even a dress made of fish-skin leather (a durable and even friendly alternative, Quinn notes, to bovine sources).

As Quinn points out, future fashion "will deliver more than a technological portal; garments will be inextricably intertwined with our experience of wearing them." Though touch and sight have always been associated with clothing, designers are now looking toward what Quinn deems "multisensory" products that "engage additional senses such as sound and smell." Glancing through the book, the reader also gets the sense that many of the top-end designers featured throughout the book are doing away with traditional gender boundaries in their more cutting-edge approach (two models for Rick Owen's 2011 menswear collection, for instance, don sleek, asymmetrical tunics which could just as easily be worn by women).

Though unidentified models wear most of the featured designs, pop culture fans will no doubt appreciate the "Extreme Style" chapter, which takes an intriguing look at the Black Eyed Peas' recent touring fashions, which were underpinned by a network of LEDs that blinked in sync with their performances. Also worth pondering is a segment on "the end of trends," which speaks about the emergence of the creative (and, it seems, non-passive) consumer as opposed to brands relying on the trend reports of yesteryear.

If the idea of clothing that can project images and moving motifs and can receive radio signals isn't appealing, then "Fashion Futures" probably isn't the coffee table purchase for you. Still, given its unique subject matter, the book could appeal to readers whose interests lie outside the realm of the industry proper. So while it could alienate readers whose perception of couture is a vintage Dior evening gown or a bespoke Chanel suit, Quinn's look at how the fields of fashion, science and technology are converging is nonetheless fresh and fascinating.



Merrell Publishers

Hardback, 240 pages

250 color illustrations

28 x 20 cm (11.25 x 7.75 in)

ISBN: 978-1-8589-4563-7

A Connecticut native, Curtis M. Wong currently works on the editorial team of The Huffington Post. He returned to New York City in 2009 after four years in Europe, where he covered news, features, and food and restaurants for The Prague Post, the Czech Republic's English-language weekly. A self-professed travel and pop culture junkie, Curtis' writing has appeared in The Hartford Courant, Passport Magazine and Abu Dhabi's The National, among other publications. You can check out some of his HuffPost work here