Will We Ever Wear Clothes Again?

“Fashion is just concerned with what’s happening in the next five minutes,” British designer Suzanne Lee says in The Next Black, an upcoming documentary about the future of the fashion industry. “The time frames for thinking and making stuff happen have gotten shorter and shorter and shorter.”

For the companies and designers profiled in The Next Black, the minute-by-minute approach to designing and producing clothing is no longer sustainable. Instead, these particular industry pioneers are playing the long game — and that game involves tech.

The 30-minute documentary, which premieres May 21, was directed by David Dworsky and Victor Köhler, the duo behind PressPausePlay, a film that chronicled the digital revolution’s impact on the arts. Like their first film, The Next Black explores the implications of the technological era, this time for the fashion industry. It was produced by home appliance manufacturer AEG, in collaboration with production company House of Radon.

“I think [The Next Black] has a somewhat similar theme [to PressPausePlay] in terms of seeing groundbreaking changes in an industry,” Dworsky tells Mashable. “In the same way that phones have become smartphones, I think clothes can become ‘smartclothes’ if you look five, 10, 15 years ahead.”

The New Black Trailer

The directors tackle the question of fashion’s future from many sides, meeting with businesses and designers who present multiple, sometimes intertwining viewpoints on the future of sustainability, technology and mass production.

Among other fashion trailblazers, they speak with Rick Ridgeway, vice president of environmental initiatives at sustainable apparel manufacturer Patagonia; Nancy Tilbury, the designer behind fashion-technology atelier Studio XO; and Suzanne Lee, director of science-meets-fashion enterprise BioCouture, which is currently engaged in growing biodegradable clothing using cellulose-producing microbes.

“This is a method of fashion which is closer to brewing beer,” Lee says of BioCouture in the trailer.

Dworksy and Köhler conducted a lot more initial research surrounding The Next Black’s subject matter compared to PressPausePlay. “There, we just took a camera and went out and filmed and hoped to find something, whereas here we had done a lot of research before we started filming.”

StudioXO dress

For the fashion-tech enthusiast, the film promises to address — and maybe answer — some of the business’s burning questions: Will the fast-fashion, mass production model continue, or will the industry return to handmade, high-quality garments? Will high-tech and smart clothing become commonplace, or will innovation come from revisiting traditional production methods? Will clothing become a mostly digital medium — as Studio XO co-founder Nancy Tilbury puts it, a “Tumblr of the body”?

Tilbury’s studio has outfitted Lady Gaga with a 3D-printed, bubble-blowing dress, Azealia Banks with a digital “mermaid bra” that sparkled in time to her music, and Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler with a cube-shaped helmet that projected Prince’s face over his own. She is, perhaps, ideally placed to speculate on the future of fashion.

“I think our relationship with clothes in 20 years will be really interesting,” Tilbury says in the film. “I wonder if we’ll even wear clothes, or if we’ll fully have digital skin.”

Originally Posted on Mashable by Rebecca Hiscott with the title, Can Fashion See Beyond the Present to Find Its Future in Tech?

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