What is freedom to you? It is the ability to go anywhere you want? To travel around the world? To fly? In this chapter, we are going to investigate the first trend from The Fashion Future and Mobility Trend Report, a collaboration between ThePowerHouse and trend forecaster Cécile Poignant.
The Fashion Future and Mobility Trend Report is a deep study on future long-term trends from four angles: freedom, power, collective, and exclusive. This is how we take a look at the global trends to see what will affect the human experience of fashion in the near future under the umbrella of mobility — physical, mental, and digital. We are starting our journey with the concept of freedom.
We are living in a very noisy world. Audio noise, mobility noise, ambient noise and more are all are competing for the precious resource of our attention.
The World Health Organization for the European Region declared environmental noise as among the “top environmental risks to health.” The WHO released new guidelines on environmental noise pollution for the first time since 1999 and includes wind turbines and “leisure noise” or music at nightclubs, live sporting events, and through personal listening devices. These have a long-term impact which can include hearing loss and lead to social isolation.
As long as we experience noisy environments everywhere, the idea of being free from noise will characterize our overall construction of what is freedom. To have more freedom will be synonymous of finding a way to be in a silent mood.
Many products have already been introduced in the wake of open office plans and the need for more silence — for example, noise-canceling headphones. These headphones boost the signal-to-noise ratio and have been credited with helping people focus. Another common usage of noise-canceling gadgets is for sleep aids.
Earbuds are also becoming more technically advanced. Flare Audio has just unveiled new earbuds that use metal to block sound instead of foam, which absorbs sound. This is a great example of how a change in material that sounds so obvious for its usage – like foam for earbuds – can revolutionize the experience.
We are continually competing for attention. We are living in the age of the “attention economy” where tech companies are dueling to attract the interest of people for the longest amount of time as possible.
The more technology we have – as much as we love it – the more we need to choose disconnection and privacy. To protect ourselves, we will use advanced garments, such as hoodies working as an envelope to form a protective layer around our heads. This will give us the feeling of being free from the demands that disturb our attention.
Influenced by the foreign noise and distractions that we experience on a regular basis, we will see the emergence of a “New Minimalism”. The focus of this new minimalist wave will be to overcome disturbances, whether they are on a browser, on a commute to work, or while sitting at a dinner table.
“It’s not decorative, it’s about things efficient, very pure, sometimes a bit massive. So simple that it’s really evident. Of course, it’s about functionality but also about protection. We can imagine easily that in the future all the tech will be inside the garment. Just like it’s starting today with Jacquard by Google. The common devices that we use now may end up being inside the garment or inside our mind to make it easier to manipulate and control.”
— Cécile Poignant
The new minimalism is much different than the minimalism experienced in the 80s and technology will be at the core of the future of fashion. In this way, we aren’t simply producing better products through technological advancements. We are benefiting from a peace of mind.
A great part of this peace comes with consciousness, and nothing is more conscious these days in the fashion industry than going green. Sustainability is the new “sex sells”. Regarding mass production, it can only be achieved through technology.
Nike has developed Nike FlyLeather, which consists of up to 50 per cent recycled natural leather fibre. It is a very classical item now produced using fewer materials than ever before. Stella McCartney and Adidas are making hoodies of liquifying recycled fabrics and reinforcing circular economy, where nothing is wasted.
These industry movements through greener, socially sustainable (and still profitable) methods of production are pushing technology and design — and vice-versa. The new minimalism asks for a low profile way of applying this new technology. It is about apparel and accessories that are effortless, but goal-oriented and efficient.
The details will become very important, but more sparse at the same time. There will be changes in the way stitches are made and how buttons will be hidden under the fabric, devising a sort of blind or hidden design. This leads us to the next micro trend inside our path through freedom: anonymity.
Freedom and anonymity will go hand-in-hand as face recognition surveillance spreads through more cities. While we are constantly being monitored and tracked online, the lines will continually blur between our online and offline selves.
Being able to disconnect and stay anonymous will become harder and harder. We will search for opportunities to be unavailable to the global web and to other people. This will result in hidden pockets, oversized hoodies, and backpacks that integrate into garments.
Aside from to keeping away from environmental pollution, in the future, we will need clothing to protect against other environmental and technological influences which can include the sun, X-rays, radio waves, and more. Google has already filed patents for “radio frequency shielded clothing” in which an individual can place a mobile device in their clothing to create a shield from any radio frequencies.
While some garments are made to protect, others can help to heal. Cell Solution is a patented German fibre technology which is basically vitamin-infused cellulose textiles that transfer Vitamin E to human skin. It helps to regulate moisture balance, regenerate skin, and detoxify free radicals.
Another impressive technology advancement in this field is Graphene, the strongest material ever tested. It conducts both heat and electricity, plus it’s flexible and almost transparent. Graphene is the only material in the world to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Material technologists are eager to start transforming it into accessories and clothing. Vollebak is the only company that has started researching and testing it in clothing with the Graphene Jacket still in a very initial stage. If the tests run as expected, this material could improve the fluidity of our interactions with the world and the way we travel and move in a city.
We started this article relating freedom with movement, and we are coming back to this path for our closure. The feel of being free, now and in the future, is related to low tech transportation and reducing exposure to air pollutants.
Norman Foster proposed an architecture project with elevated bike roads in London, called SkyCycle. The whole idea was to construct upper roads where people can use bikes and any other kind of low tech transportation made with wheels: monowheel, skateboards, rollerblades, and scooters, enabling them to commute faster. This will encourage freedom from cars and emission-producing vehicles and rely on using your own individual energy for transportation. For now, the longest bike bridge is in China in a city that has low smog pollution. It was built to encourage greener modes of transportation and prioritize bicycles over the use of cars.
Air pollutants tend to be more concentrated closer to the ground. This has a greater impact on children. In a recent study by the World Health Organization, they found that 90 percent or 1.8 billion children are breathing toxic air leading to brain damage and health defects. Air pollution is considered the new tobacco, as recent studies show that air pollution is killing 7 million people every year while damaging the health of others.
It is common to see people from China or Japan wearing a face mask on the street to protect their respiratory systems from pollutants and infections. “Smog Couture” hit China Fashion Week in 2014, but will likely expand to other countries as pollution levels continue to rise. We all could be wearing masks in the next years. It could potentially be part of a helmet that can protect your head and also your respiratory system or a simple mask. We are counting on design innovation and technology to develop the best solutions.
We went through the first of our paths to the future of fashion and mobility– freedom. We saw that we will be using technology to help to move freely through the challenges ahead. New products will be developed to protect the consumers and to absorb new demands. You can learn more about this trend in the next chapter of the trend report.
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