Tech and Fashion

posted in: FEATURES

Fashion helps us define who we are as individuals, and as a species, we are defined by our use of technology.


 

Text by KYLE CASPERS
Images by LAURENCE STEVENS, TIMOTHY HUTTO

The last century saw the rise of a number of iconic fashion items. Many of these wouldn’t exist without a close relationship with technology, sometimes blurring the line between the two. Other things, such as phones and eyeglasses, start out as tools, but they also act as accessories.
In the 19th century it was common for people to carry stopwatches. Many adventurous people had experimented with the idea of tying their timepiece to their wrist, but it wasn’t until the First World War that the idea caught on. Officers in the British Army wore wristwatches to coordinate movements, and many soldiers began to see that accessory as a sign of masculinity. When they returned from the war, they brought that notion home with them. The wristwatch was no longer seen as a fussy thing. It didn’t take long for dozens of luxury brands to fill the market with stylish timepieces.
It is no surprise that many other trends got their start as military apparel; the military has the technology to test new ideas. The now-universal t-shirt got its start this way. Around the same time as the wristwatch was catching on, mass-produced cotton undershirts were issued by the United States Navy, and they soon entered American popular culture. Movie stars such as Marlon Brando and James Dean made teenage girls swoon and boys fill with envy during the 1950s with their snug white t-shirts. The addition of the leather jacket completed the “rocker” look.
 
 


 

It is no surprise that many other trends got their start as military apparel; the military has the technology to test new ideas. The now-universal t-shirt got its start this way. Around the same time as the wristwatch was catching on, mass-produced cotton undershirts were issued by the United States Navy, and they soon entered American popular culture. Movie stars such as Marlon Brando and James Dean made teenage girls swoon and boys fill with envy during the 1950s with their snug white t-shirts. The addition of the leather jacket completed the “rocker” look.


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The first graphic tee had the insignia of the Air Corps Gunnery School and was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine at the height of World War Two. At a time of intense patriotism for Americans, it is no surprise that sporting a military logo caught on.  Soon after, more commercial styles emerged. The rise of the printed t-shirt happened at the same time as mass-media advertising, and major brands began marketing themselves through the use of licensed apparel. What began in the 1950s is today so ubiquitous that we hardly notice logos on any variety of garments, but it was pioneered on the t-shirt. Because you can’t read a logo when it is covered up, it was clear that this article of clothing was meant to be seen. Americans realized that what was once just an undergarment made good casual wear.
 


Working with Gerard Malanga on silk-screening ‘Campbell’s Soup Can’ paintings at The Factory (1965)

  

In the sixties, pop artists like Andy Warhol began experimenting with the art technique known as screenprinting, and soon found that this technology could be used in the fashion industry. Printed T-shirts exploded in the 1960’s alongside the counter-culture movement.

 



James Dean – Rebel without a cause

 
 
 
If the wristwatch communicated authority and reliability, the screen-printed or tie-dyed t-shirt was far more relaxed. It gave the wearer the opportunity to show what bands they listened to, or identify themselves with a subculture. Today, the graphic tee is at the center of the punk rock, hip-hop, or streetwear uniform. We can thank the invention of screenprinting and mass-produced apparel for this.
It would be hard to imagine punk fashion without torn and tattered leggings, but if it weren’t for a group of enterprising scientists, the synthetics that leggings are made from wouldn’t exist. Take a look at any garment you own. If you see polyester, nylon, spandex or a number of other materials, you are wearing a synthetic fabric. Not only does this make skinny jeans and your dad’s disco shirt possible, it also makes clothing more affordable. Cheap materials and the ability to experiment keeps trends moving along.
The DIY styles that emerged in the seventies such as dyed hair and safety-pinned clothing grew in popularity in the next two decades with the growing punk rock scene, and later with grunge. This had everything to do with affordable clothing. People now felt free to experiment with shredding their jeans or splashing bleach on them to create a distressed look. Wild hair colors became available not just out of popular demand, but as a by-product of the growing pigments industry. Brightly colored hair goes in and out of style, but nearly everyone has added highlights or changed their hair color slightly.
 

 

 
 
One subculture that has taken bright colors and ostentatious fashions to another level is the rave scene. What began as dressed-down utilitarian dance attire quickly became more adventurous as the 90s went on. The use of drugs such as MDMA, and the rave style reflected that influence. At a certain point, the boundary between clothing and experience dissolved; dancers wore things that would interact with the dance environment. If a raver experienced teeth grinding while under the influence, they solved it by sucking on a pacifier. It was also common in the early scene to see dancers wearing dust masks filled with Vick’s Vapo-rub, among other things. In the eclectic spirit of that subculture, these accessories became bedazzled with beads and glitter.
 

 

 

 
An integral part of rave culture is the light show, which extends to the dancers themselves. Glowsticking and gloving are two dance/fashion styles that make use of new technology to enhance the visual experience. It is also common to see clothing or bodypaint that interacts with blacklights. Rave culture utilises new technologies to stimulate dancers, but it is tapping into an age-old experience of Dionysian release that is inherently human. It is no surprise that there is a tendency for rave fashion to have a Native American or tribal feel alongside futuristic garb.
 

 

Corrective lenses have been in use since at least medieval ages in Italy, but people have always struggled to make them fashionable. For a long time they were associated with scholars and the elderly. Different styles were attempted, from handheld spectacles to pince-nez, but the over-the-ear frames eventually became the norm. It took many years for popular perceptions to catch up with the reality that many people need corrective lenses, and when that happened there was an explosion of trends. Musicians and movie stars often set the standard for what is fashionable. John Lennon and Buddy Holly were an example of this. More recently, the trend of lensless glasses is coming into the mainstream with NBA players and other celebrities embracing the frames as fashion in of themselves. What once was the clumsy but necessary tool of scholars is now celebrated.
 
 
 
During the Nineties, cell phones still were too clunky to be hip, but that didn’t stop young people from carrying around Tamagotchi. The handheld digital pet created a sensation in the United States and Japan, and inspired imitators such as Giga-Pet. It was incredibly fashionable for teenage girls to have a digital pet key-chained to their backpacks, and it happened just in time. In only a few years, cell phones would be doing all that and more.
In 2007 Apple released its iPhone, which ushered in the era of the smartphone. While not necessarily a fashion accessory, no one can deny the appeal it had. Early adopters of the iPhone gave off the same authority that watch-wearers had. These were people who knew how to get things done. Young people loved it too; they came in many different colors, there were different styles of cases, and they could use them to play games and access social media. The iPhone is Tamagotchi, all of your Facebook friends, your camera, and even more rolled into one. The only problem, manufacturers and designers learned, is that it lives burrowed away in your pocket or purse. To solve this problem, and to truly make a fashion accessory out of Apple’s technology, they invented the Apple Watch.

 

 

The Apple watch draws on the practical design sense wristwatch developers had. It is sleek and practical, and offers integration with all the other Apple services. The advantage this device has is visibility. In the same way the wristwatch told others that you were precise, responsible and classy, the Apple watch is the fashion accessory for tech-savvy people with a large social circle. The small iridescent screen shines like a jewel in its metallic casing, reinforcing its status as both as technology and as jewelry. While other companies have made smartwatches, Apple is the first company that recognizes the sex-appeal of the device and potential to make wearable technology hip again for the Millennial generation.

 

Tech and Fashion, Apple, Iphone, IWatch,

 


29 Responses

  1. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  2. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  3. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  4. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  5. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  6. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  7. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  8. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  9. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  10. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  11. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  12. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  13. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  14. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  15. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  16. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  17. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  18. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  19. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  20. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  21. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  22. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  23. Baby
    |

    Technology is moving so fast!! I used to be amazed by all the new things but now im finding it hard ;(

  24. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  25. Baby
    |

    Technology is moving so fast!! I used to be amazed by all the new things but now im finding it hard ;(

  26. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  27. Baby
    |

    Technology is moving so fast!! I used to be amazed by all the new things but now im finding it hard ;(

  28. Fashion meets Technology!! The wave of the future creates the reality of the two combined!

  29. Baby
    |

    Technology is moving so fast!! I used to be amazed by all the new things but now im finding it hard ;(

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