Technology Is Reshaping Fashion Industry

29 April, 2018

Technology is changing almost every industry, including fashion.

Imagine wearing a computer in the form of clothing, like a jacket. Now it is possible.

The clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co. partnered with technology company Google to create what is being called a "smart" jacket. The word smart is often used to describe actions controlled by a computer. What makes this jacket "smart" is washable technology added to the cuff -- the cloth encircling the wrist.

Ivan Poupyrev heads the smart clothing project for Google.

"When somebody calls you, your jacket vibrates and gives you lights and [you] know somebody is calling you."

A touch on the cuff can provide directions for helping you get to where you need to go. The jacket also can play music when combined with a mobile phone, headphones and a small piece of removable computer hardware.

"You get the most important features of the phone without taking your eyes off the road," said Paul Dillinger of Levi Strauss & Co.

The Levi's smart jacket can be purchased on the internet for $350.

It is just one step to smarter clothing.

Poupyrev explained that Google plans to use the technology for any kind of clothing. He added that the company is working with other partners in the fashion industry "to help to make their products connected."

New patterns and materials

From how clothes are used to how they are made, computing power is reshaping the fashion industry. Designers can create structures and designs that have never existed before current technology.

New technologies are also being used to make bioengineered materials made with yeast cells in a laboratory.

Suzanne Lee is chief creative officer of Modern Meadow. She explained how her company creates leather-like material from yeast cells. She said, "We engineer them to produce collagen which is the same natural protein that you find in your skin or an animal skin. Then we really grow billions of those cells, make a lot of collagen, purify it and then assemble it into whatever kinds of materials...the designers that we're working with would like to see."

Lee added that these bioengineered materials can be described as both natural and man-made.

Technology is also changing popular fashion. The rise of social media means it is not just designers who decide the latest looks in fashion.

Artificial intelligence can now collect information from social media and the internet to help designers understand what the public likes.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Elizabeth Lee reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

fashion – n. the business of creating and selling clothes in new styles; a popular way of dressing during a particular time or among a particular group of people

hardware – n. equipment used for a particular purpose

vibrate – v. to move back and forth or from side to side with very short, quick movements

featuren. an interesting or important part, quality, ability, etc.

complicatedadj. hard to understand, explain, or deal with

yeast – n. a type of fungus that is used in making alcoholic drinks and in baking to help make dough rise

assemblev. to connect or put together the parts of (something, such as a toy or machine

collagenn. a substance that occurs naturally in the bodies of people and animals and is often put into creams and other products that are sold to make a person's skin smoother and less wrinkled