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"There is a purposeful merging of function and style as consumers are seeking more performance and versatility in apparel."
The button first made its big splash on the sartorial scene back in the 13th century. The zipper? It debuted at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Most technological advancement since has come in the form of making better fasteners (burrs inspired Velcro in 1941), better fabrics (the miracle of stretchy denim: 1978)—but now a digital revolution is pushing past the production line and integrating tech gadgetry right into the products themselves.Left: Mezzi Mini Casimo. Right: LikeAGloveAndhra Goundrey, faculty coordinator of the Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, believes the “fashion x technology” Mezzi Mini Cosima trend is exploding right now. “There is a purposeful merging of function and style as consumers are seeking more performance and versatility in apparel,” says Goundrey. “This includes advancement in areas such as wearable technology and innovation in fabrications.”Vancouver-based wearable tech company Mezzi has built its entire business around this concept. The brand’s luxury leather goods integrate everyday tech, like in-bag phone charging, alerts to help you find your misplaced bag, interior lighting (never lose a lipstick to the crevasse again!) and wireless Bluetooth speakers.Online shopping gave us a way out of change rooms, but local innovator Modern Mirror is making this option increasingly viable. The fashion tech start-up is developing a virtual change room that uses body imaging software to scan a customer’s physique. A specialized fitting room would project a customized image of how clothing looks, fits and wears on the individual—without you ever having to leave the house.As a leader of the next wave of fashion designers, Goundrey says her students are encouraged to think about fashion and technology in a new light to solve current problems—and work on design solutions for the future. Finding jeans that fit was at the top of LikeAGlove’s list. The international e-outfitter has designed smart leggings that measure body shape in seconds and upload the data to a free app. The app then compares measurements to the LikeAGlove denim database and churns out a customized list of the best brands, models and sizes, selected specifically for your body. On the shoe front, Nike’s new HyperAdapt 1.0 is the first commercially available self-lacing shoe, using sensors and small built-in motors to detect your foot and automatically adjust to fit. (Someone’s been watching Back to the Future II.)Goundrey says what’s really exciting is the potential for the health sector: smart fabrics that could detect illnesses or even heal diseases. How’s that for retail therapy?