While the "don't judge a book by its cover" metaphor rings true in many realms, fashion isn't typically one of them. The way we dress says a lot about our personality, our cultural background, aspirations, and economic class. To graduates of the Design Academy Eindhoven, one of the world's most influential design schools, fashion is a medium that can communicate an individual's perspective, acts as a thermometer for our society, and can help solve some of most pressing global issues. The students' experimental ideas might not end up on retail shelves anytime soon, but you can bet they'll trickle into the mainstream. Here are nine standouts from the graduating class.
Garments Sewn From Lasers And Silicone Thread
Designer Fabian Briels's Digital Anatomy project questions conventional clothes manufacturing. Instead of the cut-and-sew process, he developed a technique that molds garments so there's no excess waste. First, he creates a digital pattern, which is laser-cut into an acrylic sheet. Then, he injects silicone into the grooves. Once the material hardens, it's lifted out. Voila—a digitally designed and fabricated article of clothing.
Fashion For Those With Peter Pan Syndrome
Océane Algaron, a designer originally from Paris, laments the societal pressure to grow up fast, so she created a line of modular leather handbags that invites wearers to customize them through interchangeable straps and pom-poms, all rendered in punchy hues.
Textiles That Represent A Cultural Patchwork
The patterns adorning traditional textiles are steeped in history, like the Dutch wax prints worn in West Africa, the indigo fabrics of Japan, or batiks of southeast Asia. Responding to how contemporary fashion and youth culture mine diverse sources for inspiration and expression, German designer Teresa Mendler, who was born in Brazil, creates fabrics—dubbed "techno tweeds"—from traditional prints. First she reinterprets the motifs into a 2D pattern, then braids them into 3D wovens.
Embracing The Power Of Tape
DIYers are no stranger to duct tape fashion, but Swedish designer Love Ohlin takes it to the next level. Using tape as his only material and scissors as his only tool, Ohlin makes whimsical, oversized garments. The final result isn't so much about wearable pieces, but in how the garments symbolize just how easy it is to construct an alternative to boring, everyday things.
An Accessory That Changes An Outfit's Silhouette
Accessories usually complement an outfit; however Loes Van Els thinks that there's an opportunity to use them to manipulate entirely new silhouettes in a single garment. Made from stretchable cables and elastic yarns, the pieces wrap around a billowy jumpsuit altering its appearance.
A Game Of Hide-And-Seek
Designer Emma Wessel similarly experiments with silhouettes. In her Hide and Seek project, she riffs on fashion's reputation for making people stand out. She uses voluminous forms to let the wearer hide within architectural garments that hold their own shape—a kind of wearable shield for the body.
Wearable Tech That Holds Your Tech
Tailored for people designer Thom Kool calls "urban nomads," the Bolt parka features hidden pockets big enough for a 15-inch laptop. Considering the needs of a wearer who bikes, walks, and uses public transportation but is also digitally connected, the waterproof coat charges electronics through built-in battery packs and has an internal structure that balances all the extra weight.
Bringing New Context To Headscarves
Headscarves are a symbol of religion and can elicit strong responses. In the wake of the election many Muslim women are reconsidering wearing hijabs because they fear attacks fueled by racism. Designer Kris Vleugels wants to break free from the discussion about headscarves' meaning (whether or not this is a good thing is debatable) by making them more mainstream. For her graduate project she created three scarves with patterns that aren't associated with one culture or religion and can be worn in a handful of ways.
Unisex Fashion As A Catalyst For Gender Equality
For the past five years, designer Floriane Misslin has been researching how unisex fashion brands—like Toogood, Rad Hourani, and Vaquera—have been marketing their apparel to see how they represent the notion of gender equality and if that could translate to social equality. Misslin's project is more about sparking questions than coming to a conclusion, but she hopes the resulting compendium could help advertisers advance more equitable representation of genders through how they're depicted in ads.