The Intersection of Fashion and Science
Science Fashion is a realm that combines principles of design, specifically for the body, and incorporates one or several of many scientific disciplines including materials science, engineering, ergonomics, physiology and biology. Unique and unprecedented applications of different fields of science are being integrated into products to address specific societal needs or as commentary on our current and speculative future state. You will be stunned by the similarities between the worlds of Fashion and Science. Scientists as well as designers, work towards the same direction, that is, to create something unknown and to introduce change and innovation to the world. This realization encourages a platform in which the two worlds are fused to synergise their efforts. Below are three ways to look at the emerging field of Fashion Science.
Creative License: One hypothesis is that scientists get a license for creativity when collaborating with artists and designers. While in lab or scientific research contexts, scientists have constraints on their work, requiring a meticulous and methodical process. In projects and collaborations with creatives, there is freedom to experiment and infuse spontaneity. There is, however, enough common ground between the motivations of both science and fashion for collaboration to come naturally. Multi-disciplinary teams, and organizations willing to open new channels of capabilities for new markets, are making it possible for scientists to find their way with the creative license afforded in these pioneering projects.
Science on The Body: Another approach is cross-disciplinary work across the sciences. The inherent design principles required to create for the body are based in a specific technical skill set. There is math and engineering involved in creating the 3D shapes around the body. Specific types of apparel require technical knowledge based on functional requirements. Dainese, the Italian motorcycle company is one example. They have worked with the European Space Agency (ESA) to create garments that support spine health in astronauts living at zero gravity. The ESA has also contributed tremendously. MacLaren, one of ten Formula 1 racing teams, known for pushing the limits and pioneering new automotive technology collaborated with ESA on a suit for their pit crews. This is a great example of engineering experts from two high-stakes and high-risk environments designing for the body.
Digital Fashion: What’s even cooler is that these designs don’t even need to exist in the physical world anymore. This addresses not only the clothes themselves, but also the discovery of and experience of marketing clothes. Fashion weeks are being rethought for their environmental footprint and impracticality. Many designers are foregoing the upcoming spring season entirely, due to the uncertain conditions from the global pandemic. We all need to be thinking about ways to become more agile and resilient, and digital platforms are offering creative ways for brands to reach audiences where they are: on their devices, everywhere around the world.
One exciting example comes from Africa, where digital platforms allow for innovative ways of reaching audiences across the continent and beyond. “The African fashion world is keen to explore virtual fashion shows, for both practical and creative purposes — and a new generation of designers is leading the way. The Fabricant is a leader in the digital fashion space, having made headlines selling the first digital dress via bitcoin auction in 2018. The dress pulled in $9,500. They are proving that “clothing doesn’t need to be physical to exist.” Style definitely doesn’t have to be physical to exist. If digital fashion can be a new medium for exploring style and wardrobing and demonstrating taste, this could relieve over extended wallets and our overextended environment.
This is an active area of research. There are many more angles from which to discuss Fashion Science and how it is changing the make-up of the fashion industry. The fine line between FashionTech and Fashion Science becomes more distinct through the recognition of the disciplines involved in bridging apparel with applied science. Hopefully the examples above open some new lines of questioning and inquiry for readers, too.
The future of fashion and Science requires Science, Technology, Engineering and STEM skills more than ever.
More about our speakers:
Taneshia Camillo-Sheffy | Founder/CEO | The Haute House “brands”
The Haute House is in the business of developing fashion businesses and The Haute House Design Studio is the creative side of the industry for aspiring designers and professionals, both local and international designers, with a focus on under-represented designers and professionals.
MadeINcubator creates innovative solutions to bridge the gap between education and entrepreneurship. We aim to support both organizations and the people. Offering a learning scenario that entrepreneurs, educators and organizations can leverage community partnerships that foster a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem globally. MadeINcubator is an international hub that fosters business innovation in the Fashion and business industry while partnering with communities and organizations nationwide to help fashion businesses create new products and companies better and faster. We do this by providing educational programming and vibrant experiences. Advancing the economic well-being of businesses, organizations, and the people.
Professor Frances McSherry | Faculty member | College of Arts, Media and Design | Northeastern University
Professor McSherry teaches fashion theory, fashion history, and developed Global Fashion Studies minor; faculty adviser to Fashion & Retail Society and The Avenue- both student organizations, and Freelance Costume Designer.
This Husky Trek is especially for all undergraduate students of all degrees and majors.