Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On The Techno Trail Part Two!

    In 1856, William Henry Perkin developed Mauvine, the first chemically based dye, using a derivative of indigo, called aniline. It created a huge change instantly in textile manufacture all over the western world.  Suddenly the craze for colors of a brilliance and shade here to fore unavailable was pervasive. And garments that had shockingly jarring combinations of colors became quite fashionable, doubtless to the quiet horror of the older set.
   Mechanization also had its effect on traditional hand crafts like lace making, allowing very complex laces to be created as yard goods, which permitted lace to be used in ways it previously was unavailable for, like curtains and whole garment coverings.
    Consequently, lace began to appear on anything and everything.
    As we entered the 20th century, science and technology took hold of attire and gave it a vigorous shaking.  Materials like celluloid, bakelite, rayon, and the sudden appearance of blended textiles, (which had been possible, but not done due to associated religious interdictions), widened the field and brought fashionable clothes even more into the daily life of everyday people.
    When these new materials were married to greater and greater manufacturing speeds, the level of novelty, and the rate with which those novelties appeared, raced faster yet.

        But a couple of new inventions were about to occur one after the other that were going to change forever how clothes got made.
    Though the zipper in one form or another had been toyed with as a notion since the second half of the 1800's it wasn't till 1917, that a truly practical version was developed. The zipper reduced markedly the need for hook and eye closures and snaps, which after buttons, had been the primary methods to secure clothes. And consequently it made getting into and out of one's clothes a lot easier and faster.
    Velcro was invented by George de Mestral in 1948, and is interestingly, an amalgam of two french words: velours (velvet) and crochet (hook).  The first velcro was made up in cotton but was not very effective, so technology came to the rescue yet again with nylon and polyester.
    By the middle of the 20th century enormous numbers of mixed fiber and entirely synthetic fabrics existed, making washing and wearability easier.  And by the 60s textiles were incorporating plastics, paper, metals, and fibers like sisal into the mix of what was available, creating by that a whole new category of playful ideas.
    Now, in the 21st century the lid is well and truly getting blown off the whole process of clothing manufacture, and hence, attire as a whole.
    Here is just a partial list of what is on the table now that either already has, or is about to change everything.
1. ccad- this pervasive and complex computer program allows designers to create directly on the computer, also permitting patterns to be graded for multi-size manufacture, and printed, in far fewer steps, shortening the design process, and simplifying alterations to design.

2. full body imaging- this process allows a human being to be scanned and measured down to the micron level, and this information can be then uploaded to ccad, making pattern alteration for a specific client a simple thing indeed.

3. robotics- both in the manufacture of clothing, with computer guided lasers cutting fabrics, and in the manufacture of complex, embellished textiles, robots are making previously hand made only textiles available at the mid and lower market levels.

4. digital printing- this technique allows a designer full freedom at last to create any kind of pattern, color or imagery, at any scale they wish. This technology is also so inexpensive that a home sewer could if she wanted get her own designs printed for her.

5.3D printing-this new tech is standing on the brink of being able to completely alter how clothing gets manufactured in a mass market sense.  As soon as they figure out how to make fully flexible textiles using it, then we have Game On.

6.Spray on clothing- this is a very fringe notion as yet, but the number of potential applications is intriguing.  Imagine being able to spray gloves on for surgery.  How about a spray on wetsuit for diving or surfing?  Need a leotard for your dance class? Grab the sprayer.

    If these and the other innovations that are out there are any indicator ,the future holds some surprising, glorious, and challenging things in it. And I for one, cant wait!


  1. 4. this is happening now for some artists and art quilters. Change is upon us.

  2. Fascinating post. You always choose the most beautiful and/or interesting images.

    I have a question, when you write, "...and the sudden appearance of blended textiles, (which had been possible, but not done due to associated religious interdictions)" what do you mean? Not sure I get the religious interdictions part.

    And I cannot wait for the full-body imaging to be in the regular person's grasp. I would love to order clothing that way.

    1. Hey There!

      In the old Testament of the Bible there is an interdiction against the mixing of animal and plant fibers. This carried over, without commentary or question for centuries, into the attire realm. Fabrics were simply not woven in combinations of fibers. Do I think that it actually did occur now and again? Of course, but so few examples of textiles exist as to make proving that assertion nearly impossible. Virtually everything that exists is all of the very finest quality, and silk dominates that, since it has the longest shelf life of the natural fibers.