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.
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.
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.