Cyborgs, New Technology, and the Body: The Changing Nature of Garments

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Imagine clothes that change colour, display changing patterns, that react to sound, light, heat, and the closeness of other people. Your heart rate, blood pressure, movement, your feelings, could cause this garment to alter its behaviour, appearance and texture. What if your clothes knew what colour to be to match your make-up? What if you could sell advertising space on your back? What if your clothes were actually alive? This paper will explore the cross over between garment, textiles and fashion design with emerging technologies of bio-technology, cybernetics, information technology, nano-technology and new media, with applications likely in fashion/everyday wear, performance art, sport, industrial/safety, entertainment and other areas not yet envisaged. The paper will anticipate the impact of new technologies in garment design, and outline possible approaches to the critical analysis of the consequences, especially the importance of the boundaries of the body and clothes/fashion as a media technology that extends the skin. The 'post-human', 'cyborg' condition is a departure point for these considerations in a study of the speed with which once new technological extensions to our biological bodies such as make-up and surgery, drugs, mobile telephones, cameras, and even 'ordinary' clothes, have become 'normalised'.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Fashion Theory takes as its starting point a definition of “fashion” as the cultural construction of the embodied identity. The importance of studying the body as a site for the deployment of discourses has been well established in a number of disciplines. Until Fashion Theorys launch in 1997 the dressed body had suffered from a lack of critical analysis. Increasingly scholars have recognized the cultural significance of self-fashioning, including not only clothing but also such body alterations as tattooing and piercing.

    Fashion Theory provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the rigorous analysis of cultural phenomena. Its peer-reviewed articles range from foot-binding to fashion advertising.
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