Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New York Fashion Cool-Aid™: Fabric Technology


Is it the New "It" Girl of Fashion Week?

Epson's Digital Dye Sublimation Printer

Fashion Week kicked off in a vibrant explosion of color last night with a presentation from Epson's Digital Couture Project to showcase the future of textile printing at Industria Superstudio. Digital dye sublimation technology, lest it sound like something out of "Fifty Shades of Grey" (Lol) is a relatively new trend for printing imagery on many synthetic fibers as well as cotton. It produces rich colors with the click of a mouse giving designers a great deal of creativity and flexibility in creating their own textile.

Mariana Morrell and her collection

Eleven designers from the Americas showcased 33 looks during the two-hour event.  I spoke to Mariana Morrell from Sao Paulo, Brazil who said that she had won a competition in her university which brought her here. "The aesthetics of the New York ghetto inspires me for the tonality of the collection" she commented. It was evident in her unisex attire of leggings, tunics and hoodies with an interesting urban vibe. Most of the designers took advantage of the Epson's SureColor F-Series printers capabilities and showcased clothing with lively and interesting florals, geometrics and free form patterns.

Leigh Lezark

The event was widely attended with a downtown fashion crowd and featured well known DJ duo (formerly a trio) "The Misshapes." The female "Misshape," a decidedly dressed down Leigh Lezark who, judging by their Instagram http://instagram.com/themisshapes is BFF's with Madewell ambassador and "It" Girl Alexa Chung as well as being fashion royalty in her own right. After all, how many DJ's have their own stylebook of photos and can count Karl Lagerfeld and Sally Singer of Vogue as contributors? Hmm, truth be told, that did look like a Madewell sweater Leigh was wearing. Maybe Alexa's? Wonder if Geordan Nicol, the other Misshape feels left out?

After making my way down the long laser lit hallway, I spied one of the huge Epson printers on display in a glass windowed annex attended by two young women in white labwear giving out T-shirts and tote bags. In the next cavernous but completely packed room were the models, the bar and all the action including a rejuvenating vitamin drip station provided by Liquifusion (LiquifusionIV.com) It was definitely more than a little creepy to see guests hooked up to IV's (seriously who does that at a social event?) but I guess it could make sense to get hydrated and try to up your immunity before the evils, temptations and long hours of NYFW really kick in and KO your resistance. You may be familiar with the much hyped "hangover" infusion cure which may be in great demand as well as the week continues.


Betabrand Flash Collection scarf

Switching gears from digital printing to light refracting brings me to another technological breakthrough in fabric: The Flashback Collection from Betabrand. This San Francisco-based crowdfunding clothing company has already had several hits with inventions such as Dress Pant Yoga Pants, Bike-to-Workwear, Executive Hoodies (they're made of a gray wool pinstripe), Disco Lab (metallic clothing), Space Jackets and Gay Jeans (rainbow colors are released in the weave or "come out" after a number of wearings).

illuminati suit

So what's so special about the Flashback Collection? No, these are not copies of some vintage styles worn back in the day -- the word "flashback" refers to what happens when a photo is taken of the wearer. Inspired by Chris Holmes, a DJ who tours with Paul McCartney, the fabric used here in a suit called the Illuminati (Ha), scarf, baseball cap and hoodie, foils the paparazzi in their quest to capture the wearer's image. According to the press release this "Paparazzi-fighting fashion" is "clothing that toys with camera light meters, turning wearers into specters of style." What's left is just a ghostly image...think the Invisible Man.

"After wearing reflective fabric to several performances, I noticed that photos from the show always looked odd because the flash that bounced off my clothing would wash out everything else," Chris says. "It gave me the epiphany that perhaps I could use this technology for a greater purpose." The fabric is embedded with microscopic glass bubbles that reflect light which were originally designed for safety products like firemen's suits and may be a better answer for those celebrities, clubbers, pranksters or even safety-conscious cyclists. I've read that some celebrities try to deflect the paparazzi by wearing the same outfit continuously on consecutive days rendering the photos unsellable to photo agencies, not to mention keeping one's friends at arm's length. The Flashback Collection could just be another trick to keep "up their sleeve" for when the frequently worn outfit is at the cleaners.

Check out Betabrand's crowdfunding page:here (only 26 days left to fund the collection but they are well on the way). Also found here is the Margaret Cho jumpsuit as seen in The New York Times article: the Suitsy; a business suit onesy and the Poo emoji men's shirt and shoes, all fully funded I'm happy to say and ready for purchase. Meta question of the day: If you step in poo wearing poo shoes does it make them more authentic or are you then full of it?




- Laurel Marcus

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