Are fashion trends evolving with technologies getting closer to the body?

Kristine Upesleja, FIDM, Los Angeles

Textiles and materials have always been part of Kristine’s life. From creating costumes in theaters, operas and film in Europe to assisting architecture and interior design firms on various projects, including the Brad Pitt residence in Los Angeles. She is fascinated by both the materials and processes used in these disciplines.

Educated at the Free University in Berlin, she worked as a freelance costume designer throughout Europe. In 2000 she moved to Los Angeles, where she has served for the previous 9 years as the Textiles & Materials Manager at FIDM/ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Kristine researches new textiles and materials and has collaborated with international companies all over the world, including Hugo Boss, Stone Island, C.P Company, Vitra, Michael Schmidt Studios, and Lenzing to name a few.

She founded the permanent Innovative Materials Collection in the Library. She curates the Innovative Materials Conference on all four FIDM campuses. The exhibit also travelled abroad to the Academy of Arts in Riga , Latvia.

As a result of her adventurous learning processes and experiences in the textiles and design world she launched her expertise into her own textiles & materials consulting firm in 2012:

Madisons- Innovative Textiles & Materials Consulting.

Kristine offers lectures, webinars, inspiring consultations and assists design firms in organizing their textile and material libraries. She writes a blog on her website

Smithers Apex: You are constantly looking for new fashion trends and new materials- without giving away too much of your presentation, what has been the latest finding that really has you excited about the possibilities it will represent for the Smart Fabrics and Wearables industry?

Most definitely I'm excited about the 

  • Biotechnology movement
  • Materials/technology that can read our mind and display our emotions
  • Possibilities of 3-D printing
  • Hearables...the new Wearables
  • Digital retail

Smithers Apex: How do you see fashion trends evolving with technologies getting closer to the body?


I still don't see that many fashion trends evolving in wearable technology, besides accessories. When we talk about wearable technology we still think about accessories such as wristbands or watches but not as much about garments etc... I think that we need to shift our thinking a bit and move away from focusing just on ' technology' in terms of electronics only being focused how to transfer data to our smart phones.

If it comes to smart fashion/fabrics there are new areas to explore:

  • Fibers made from food leftovers ( corn, milk, crab shells, coffee grounds, coconut, )
  • Nanotechnology and high performance textiles ( engineered molecules of the fiber)
  • Unimaginable varieties of 3- D printing
  • Biotechnology: garments that are grown in the lab ( leather from animal stem cells, garments grown from red wine, Bioprinting etc...
  • Fabrics that do many things that traditional fabrics won't

Smithers Apex: What would be your suggestions for the two fields (fabrics and wearables) to come together to complement each other?

There's a long way to go.. We are still experimenting and this is good. 

I noticed that available wearable fashion is often lacking design. ( see Tommy Hilfiger solar panel jacket)... it was a nice try....( our students were not pleased with the design)...Smart glasses...yikes... Engineers seem not to understand fashion and aesthetics and the Fashion Industry is still not ready due to many logistics. Wearable tech needs to become as invisible as possible and needs to be integrated into our daily lives and clothing.

Why are consumers still not ready?  ( except for wristbands)

Clothes need to be fashionable, comfortable to be successful for the mass market.If you can empower people with comfort, elegance and efficient tech then you can be successful.

Smithers Apex: What are you looking forward to hear at Smart Fabrics and Wearable Technology 2015?

I'd like to hear more about wearable fashion that is available and not just conceptual what most items are. This is frustrating because the hype around wearable tech pretends that most of the items are already available. I understand that we are on the verge of something big. Similar to the era before Apple revolutionized the phone and computer. There is hope!

Fashion hasn't changed. Garments still need to be cut, sewn, stitched and dyed. Can the Fashion Industry really rise to the challenge and push forward wearable tech? Or will it be treated as a passing trend?

Is it cost effective, will it be able to make  to the mass market? Production, shipping, labour are all factors.