iPads and accelerometers. 3-D printers and dress forms. Green tea and Kombucha culture. A needle and thread. Each of these approaches to fashion is wildly different from the next, and yet, any and all of them represent the future of what we wear and how we wear it.
The Next Black is a 45-minute documentary by Stockholm creative agency House of Radon, produced for AEG, that gives us a peek into five vastly diverse fashion studios working on the next big breakthrough in clothing.
You’ll see Adidas track the movement of soccer players to optimize performance; Studio XO show off its partially 3-D printed Lady Gaga dress that emits bubbles; sustainable label BioCouture wax poetic about clothes grown from microbes; Patagonia argue for selling repair kits and iFixit tutorials rather than new clothing; and Yeh Group load what appear to be World War II-era torpedo bays with thousands of yards of fabric to dye them without water.
The most poignant moment comes from BioCoutoure's founder Suzanne Lee, when says, plainly, "there is no time for R&D in fashion." Caught in a constant grind of following trends for the next season, fashion designers rarely have time to mastermind the paradigm shifts you find in industries like computing (consider the huge impact of mobile devices and touchscreens) and, to a lesser extent, energy (consider the impact of wind farms and LED lighting).
If The Next Black leaves you with any impression, however, it’s that at least a few clothing designers out there are still trying to design a more sustainable, inspiring, and, of course, fashionable future.