Fashion goes high-tech

The “electronic paper” in the Issey Miyake bag causes it to change colour as it responds to the model’s movements.
The “electronic paper” in the Issey Miyake bag causes it to change colour as it responds to the model’s movements.PHOTO: THE JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI

A model walked down the runway during Paris Fashion Week in September with an Issey Miyake clutch bag that changed colour from white to black, then to greyish gradations as it responded to her movements.

The gradual colour change was generated by "electronic paper", a high-tech display device used as one of the materials in the bag.

Issey Miyake jointly developed the product with Fashion Entertainments, a project of Sony Corp.

The e-paper device changes colour by using the team's original technology to apply different voltages to the corners of the e-paper. "We proposed it as fabric you could have fun with, not paper," said Sony employee Makoto Akagi.

This is just one of several fashion items to debut recently, featuring advanced digital technologies.

The products stem from flexible, entertaining ideas, such as changing appearance based on the user's movements and improving the convenience and comfort of daily life.

In September, a company called no new folk studio released Orphe sneakers, which emit light in various colours in response to the user's movements. The translucent soles have 100 built-in light-emitting diodes. The colour combinations can be designed by using a dedicated app for smartphones. Sounds can be played based on movement.

"We made the shoes as a tool of artistic expression that can make our lives more colourful and delightful," said Mr Yuya Kikukawa, chief executive officer of the company.

Minotaur sells dress jackets and zip-up sports jackets under its I/O Collection brand that have built-in heating devices, which can be controlled by a smartphone.

The clothes are warmed up in only 30 to 60 seconds after the system is activated. Users can choose four temperature levels.

Google and Levi Strauss are also jointly developing "smart wear" that can remotely control a smartphone or other device when the user touches the clothing.

There are several problems to solve for these new additions to the market, such as battery size and life, said Mr Hiroaki Mizutani of DiFa, a website providing information on digital technologies and fashion products.

"But there are high expectations of the new market formed by such products, as the fashion industry is facing sluggish consumption. The market will continue growing," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2016, with the headline 'Fashion goes high-tech'. Print Edition | Subscribe