MAGAZINE | Hijacking the Language of Fashion

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Between sense and sense making

We talk about how we feel naked when we leave the house without our phone. It suggests that our relationship to the device has become as natural as being dressed. It’s like our phones outfit our physical bodies with countless invisible tentacles that extend them spatially and temporally.

Phones enhance our sense of being ‘in touch’ with the world and transform our world perceptually. Fixated on the screen as we are, we’re being drawn into a digital environment. Sometimes to such an extent that we forget about our physical bodies and the actual surroundings.

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So, we can’t deny we’re already intimately involved with our phones. But they also represent some of the constraints of the device paradigm in which technology is seen as a commodity; a means to an end. Something to be used, while hardly considered a “thing” in itself. Paradoxically our data-driven society is striving for optimization and efficiency, but as social and emotional beings we will always long for a certain softness; something that cannot be captured in numbers and statistics.

I believe that when we come to see technology not as a tool but a material, we can allow it to become soft. What happens if we try to speak of technology in terms of textile; when the interface is no longer a touchscreen but the jacket you wear?

With “Issho”, we aim to inspire a new direction for the role of technology in fashion. One that goes beyond the prevailing cognitive approach that focuses particularly on quantification. The project started with the newfound possibility of weaving conductive yarns into denim fabric to obtain a level of intelligence that could add value in daily life.

Denim is one of the most common form of everyday attire – transcending all ages, cultures and social embodiments. Its durability and graceful aging allows us to build valuable relations. Like a friendship, it becomes more personal and intimate with the passing of time. Issho, draws on this metaphor of a close friendship, as it’s designed to take care of you. In our increasingly accelerating world, our minds are often focussed on future events.

While being connected all the time, the risk is that we lose touch with ourselves. Every now and then Issho reminds its wearer to be in the present moment. The golden conductive yarns that are incorporated in the weft of the fabric create touch sensitive zones. Echoing the degree of social encounters and smartphone activity, the jacket provides subtle haptic feedback to invite bodily engagement.

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“I was on my way into the city. As I was putting my phone in my pocket, I thought of how I was blending in with the people next to me, all trapped in the same daily habit. Inextricably connected, but with their minds in the cloud instead of consciously tied to their body. And I was no exception. Just as I sat down in the metro, I felt a gentle caress on my upper back. It was as if my jacket was speaking to me through a brief but encouraging gesture that only I could notice."

Precisely this, is what I found the most valuable insight that Issho revealed to me. Namely that we should consider the relationship we have with our clothes as an intimate dialogue.

Issho is born out of an exclusive collaboration with ItalDenim, a leading manufacturer of denim,
known for their innovative approach. Special thanks to Isabel Berentzen.