'The emotional wardrobe' : a fashion perspective on the integration of technology and clothing
Since the Industrial Revolution, fashion and technology have been linked through the textile and manufacturing industries, a relationship that has propelled technical innovation and aesthetic and social change. Today a new alliance is emerging through the integration of electronic technology and smart materials on the body. However, it is not fashion designers who are exploiting this emerging area but interaction design, performance art and electronic and computing technologists. 'The Emotional Wardrobe' is a practice-based research project that seeks to address this imbalance by integrating technology with clothing from a fashion perspective. It aims to enhance fashion's expressive and responsive potential by investigating clothing that can both represent and stimulate an emotional response through the interface of technology. Precedents can be found in the work of other practitioners who merge clothing design with responsive material technology to explore social interaction, social commentary and body responsive technology. Influence is also sought from designers who investigate the notion of paradoxical emotions. A survey of emotion science, emotional design, and affective computing is mapped onto a fashion design structure to assess if this fusion can create new 'poetic' paradigms for the interaction of fashion and technology. These models are explored through the production of 'worn' and 'unworn' case studies which are visualised through responsive garment prototypes and multimedia representations. The marriage of fashion and technology is tested through a series of material experiments that aim to create a new aesthetic vocabulary that is responsive and emotional. They integrate traditional fashion fabrics with material technology to enhance the definition of fashion. The study shows that the merger of fashion and technology can offer a more personal and provocative definition of self, one which actively involves the wearer in a mutable aesthetic identity, replacing the fixed physicality of fashion with a constant flux of self-expression and playful psychological experience. The contribution of the research consists of: the integration of technology to alter communication in fashion, a recontextualisation of fashion within a wider arena of emotion and technology, the use of technologies from other disciplines to materialize ideas and broaden the application of those technologies, and the articulation of a fashion design methodology.