New Fashion Brand Turns Your Emotions Into Stylish Clothes

“Wearing your heart on your sleeve” just got a lot more literal.

For most people, fashion is a form of self-expression–the clothes that you wear give others a glimpse of who you are. The new clothing brand Abstract_ takes that literally. It lets you create customized clothing based on personal stories and emotions.


Here’s how it works: visit Abstract_’s online store and follow the prompt to type out a story. Using the webcam on your computer, an algorithm will record and analyze your facial expressions as you’re typing. That data combines with the data taken from the rhythm of your keystroke–how fast you type, when you pause–and specific keywords in your story. It’s then transformed into a visual representation through a custom program. The data visualization becomes your textile pattern, which you can affix to any of the clothing options available in their online store.

Abstract_ is the brainchild of web designer Bjørn Karmann, textile designer Kristine Boeson, and fashion designer Julie Hells Erikson. While attending Kolding Designschool in Copenhagen, Boeson and Erikson started working on an idea to develop a customizable clothing brand that made the customer the designer. When they brought the idea to Karmaan, he used his interest in how people express emotions online to develop the program that forms patterns out of text and facial recognition.

The program works best when people use stories that are meaningful to them, thus eliciting facial expressions that can be read by the program Karmaan developed. “A lot of them are memories or favorite songs, or a favorite cake recipe from their grandma,” Karmaan says in a phone interview. “Someone just made binary code so it was only 1s and 0s, and the pattern is very glitchy and very pixelated.”

The site is still under development, but the process has been tested and so far the results have included colorful, distorted patterns that look similar to glitch art. Your emotions–picked up by the facial recognition software–correspond to the colors of the clothing. “For example, if happiness is red and sadness is blue, the facial recognition will analyze you emotional state and make shades within those two,” Karmaan says. The content of the story creates the pattern, while the keyboard rhythm directly corresponds to the scale of the pattern (i.e. the width of the stripes).

Since you can see the pattern forming as you type your story, you can change elements of it on purpose to produce different results. For example, if you like the pattern that a specific line makes, you can repeat that line so that the pattern repeats.

The designers plan to make T-shirts, jackets, pants, shirts, dresses, and skirts for both men and women available on the site, made from primarily wool, silk and cotton. Although it’s too early in the planning stages to list exact prices, the team predicts that a men’s sweater will cost around $295.


Read more about the Abstract_ project here.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.