Fashion Technology Fair at Manchester Metropolitan University
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to be invited to Manchester Metropolitan University. The occasion was a ‘trade fair’ showcasing the Fashion Technology product ideas of the second year students on the degree course Fashion Buying and Merchandising.
Before the excitement of the event itself, the programme leader Maria Malone, senior lecturer Vicki Markham, and unit leader Cathy Chase, showed us around the department and gave us extensive insights into the way the university prepares its students for the real world.
Manchester Metropolitan University has one of the highest rated fashion buying and merchandising degrees in the UK, with 94% of all student employed within 6 months of finishing the course. As we went around the building, it became clear that the students have amazing technology at their disposal, including 3D printers and a body scanner (which Manchester’s Rugby team has utilised to develop personalised protective gear). The fashion and textile industry is an ever evolving and fast paced industry. With the advances in technology, connected smart wear is becoming more and more real. It was therefore really encouraging to see the amount of focus the university places on this part of the fashion industry.
The trade fair itself hosted exhibits from the 160 students on the course, organised into groups of six upwards. With astonishing finesse, groups showcased their ideas with props, marketing material, videos, mock ups, and specs. Oh, and almost everyone offered treats to help keep sugar levels high 😉
Among the many projects we saw presented, were;
• Ski gear with built in heating pads
• Baby wear that instantly change colour depending on the baby’s temperature, using thermochromatic fabric
• Undergarments with built in toning technology • Sportswear that connects to a smartphone app and provides biometric information • Waterproof coating technologies
• A sleeping bag for babies with built in thermometer that connects to an app, and allows the parents to monitor their child
• Shoes made with specialised Gecskin and memory foam for all day comfort
• 3D printed jewellery, made to measure using 3D printing and 3D body scanning technologies
• Sportswear with Aloe Vera particles weaved into the fabric, to reduce body odour while moisturizing the skin.
• 3D printed lingerie
• 3D printed, personalised protective pads for motorcycle wear.
The course is focused on preparing the students for the ‘real world’, and it was clear that along with the understanding of their craft, they also valued and demonstrated the art of storytelling.
I left Manchester feeling inspired and with more excitement than ever about the power of design to bring together all areas of life, in order to make things better.
The idea of the clothes we wear as the first frontier of digital is not a new one, but as wearable technology explodes, the role our clothes play in how we interact with the world will take on new meaning.
And with each new generation of pioneers in a world driven by digital, human interaction and technological advances, so our ability to reinvent everything just grows stronger.