The Wearable Lab, Decoding Future Trends in VR and Smart Materials

Première Vision, which took place last week in Paris, houses The Wearable Lab, an initiative launched by the tradeshow to support the future of fashion and technology. Building in its mission to decode future trends, Wearable Lab, which began in February 2017, is an annual space – held at the February edition of Première Vision Paris. Designed to showcase the Fashion Tech players, this season I was able to experience both the world of Virtual Reality and the wonders of smart materials.

VR Possibilities Explored

This season the Wearable Lab introduced attendees to a machine that allowed users to become another person. A virtual reality installation that was located in the middle of the Wearable Lab space, was designed by the interdisciplinary collective BeAnotherLab. It is a project that explored the subjective aspect of reality by switching between our own vision and that of another.

Experiencing the virtual reality installation at Wearable Lab

After being told what it does, I was given the opportunity to literally step into someone else’s shoes. Participating with one other person, we were told to sit opposite each other. We then both put on the Oculus Rift VR headgear, which played a significant role in allowing us to be virtually displaced into the body of one another. A weird feeling at first, we were led through a series of exercises that challenged our cognitive and perspective abilities. I found myself touching and altering my environment, not as myself, but instead as the lady facing me. It was her hand I moved. I noticed that she had blue nail varnish on, and when I lifted my leg, it was her pixie booties that I was looking at. It was no longer me. I was able to experience being her.

The objective of the whole experiment was to see how in the not too distant future this kind of technology could be integrated into fashion. BeAnotherLab believes that it could be the device that could allow us to anticipate startling and inspiring changes with regards to cognitive outfit and ways and means of reaching out to the other while remaining ourselves.

Unusual Materials That Offer Possibilities

Material innovations are opening the fashion industry to the possibilities of using other sources, that are more ethical, to create clothes. While I was at Premiere Vision’s Wearable Lab, I was introduced to a few materials that wowed me. The ones that stood out for me included ‘Stone Sheets’, a stone plating made of real stone on a fibreglass foundation, which allows the natural material to be thin and very flexible. Next, to the Stone Sheets, there was ‘Muskin’, a mushroom leather made from a giant South American fungus. From its natural state it is dried out and processed to become a very soft and flexible leather similar to suede.

The concrete lace

The concrete lace was the showstopper. It was made of tiny concrete pieces tied together in a thread frame. Light and wavy, it is a material that gives designers the advantages of concrete in a mesmerising manner. A material called Rolatube was also on display. Described as high tech fibres it is made of composite impregnated with thermoplastic resin which can either harden as a ridig stick or roll itself up in an efficient portable way.

The Basalt woven textile

My personal favourite was the Basalt woven textile. Made from stringed molten volcanic stone, the material can be woven into a very resistant shimmering fabric.

Besides the unusual materials on display, the Wearable Lab also showcased innovative work by fashion tech brands 37.5® Cocona Natural Technologies, Dropel, Induo, CRY by JRC Reflex, Kyorene® Graphene Fiber & Yarn and Pyrates Smart Fabrics.

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.