Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology

Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology

Lianne Toussaint |  Several Dutch designers and companies experiment with the possibility to integrate electronics, solar panels, smart materials, LEDs, or interactive interfaces into fabrics and clothing. The central aim of the research project ‘Pretty Smart Wearables: Theories of the Body, Fashion and Technology’ is to academically and thoroughly reflect on the socio-cultural implications of this integration of fashion and technology. The PhD research is part of the broader NWO-project ‘Crafting Wearables’ that explores the design, application and production of ‘fashionable (or ‘wearable’) technologies’. The project’s key hypothesis is that these technological innovations will have a deep impact on the social and cultural value, aesthetics and function of clothes and fashion.

Taking the theoretical concept of cultural performance as a starting point, the research focuses on three interrelated effects of wearable technology. First, it looks at how the interaction between body, garment, and technology influences the embodied experience of the wearer. Second, the project will explore how fashion and technology reciprocally transform each other’s aesthetics. Finally, the project aims at a better understanding of how fashionable technology enables the wearer to communicate emotions, values and identity in new and alternative ways.

The research project Crafting Wearables is led by prof. dr. Anneke Smelik (Radboud University) and has six subprojects. The project is funded by the NWO ‘Creative Industry’ grant and entails a cooperation between the Radboud University, the Technical University Eindhoven, ArtEZ Fashion Academy Arnhem and several other private and public partners (Philips Research, Textile Museum Tilburg, MODINT, Freedom of Creation, Solar Fiber, Inntex, Xsens).

Supervisor | Prof. dr. Anneke Smelik (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Pauline van Dongen-2

Image: Pauline van Dongen, ‘Wearable Solar project’, solar coat.