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MUSEUM EXHIBIT: “Fashion and Technology” at the Museum at FIT

Thierry Mugler, evening dress, silver metallic lamé, c. 1979, France, gift of Clarins Fragrance Group/Thierry Mugler Perfume.

You won’t want to miss the exhibit Fashion and Technology at the Fashion and Textile History Gallery of the Museum at FIT on display now through May 8, 2013.

Fashion and technology have experienced a continually evolving relationship that’s been remarkably fast paced. Today, the term “techno-fashion” is used to refer to a predominantly 21st-century phenomenon, but technological advancements were shaping fashion design and fabrication as early as the mid-eighteenth century. The Fashion and Technology exhibit explores the impact of emerging technologies on the nature of fashion design and production over the past 250 years.

The exhibit focuses on innovations that have influenced the production, materials, aesthetic, and function of fashion. From early inventions such as the Spinning Jenny, and the sewing machine, to zipper technology, and more recently digital, technology continues to transform the promotion, fabrication, and basic design of fashion and its construction materials. Designers today are collaborating with a diverse range of artists, scientists, and engineers to create clothing that pushes the boundaries of fashion further than ever before. Even social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have helped to redefine the limits of fashion branding today. These trends, influences, and changes will all be examined through the years.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to visit the exhibit, please tell us about your visit. The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday noon to 8pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm and is free to the public. Visit fitnyc.edu to read more about the exhibit.

What do you think is the biggest impact technology has had on fashion design and production? What specific technological advances do you feel have influenced the industry the most?


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  1. Meels1 | | #1

    Dying and printing processes have become more ecofriendly, safer for producer and consumer, and results are produced faster with incredible directness from the creator's vision to the printed product.

  2. user-2357413 | | #2

    Without question, the chemical treatments of fabrics has been, and continues to be, the greatest area of technological developments affecting the THREADS readership. Just think about it.

  3. lovetosewsorselo | | #3

    I'm not "lovetosewsorselo" but my comment is:
    I think the technological advances made with home sewing machines has changed the face of fashion, especially with the added technology of embroidery add-on's and all the wonderful software now available. Everyone can now be their own fashion designer, unique in every way.

  4. bgcg | | #4

    If you are looking at the most important thing to happen to the sewing world in the last 250 years, I would have to say education. The sewing machine, patterns, threads and all the availiblity would do not good if the education was not there. From Grandmas to school to college to books to TV to DVD to computer. We have made it very easy to learn the tips that have home sewers to do the things from high dollar stores. Thank you Threads too.

  5. User avater
    RevDi | | #5

    I would have to say that the most impact has been negative - the explosion of sweatshops that have created cheap clothing that fill the racks at WalMart and other low-cost stores. Cheap labor means that people don't make their own clothing, and don't value the lives of the people who make it for them. No one thinks about the fact that people are exploited so we can buy a $3 t-shirt.

  6. abby1 | | #6

    For better or worse, the manipulations of fabric is the biggest change. There are the synthetics and all the worlds they open up. The use of lycra and other man made fibers blending with natural fibers changing the hand and characteristics of natural fabric. There are the synthetics as stand alone fabrics and again the ability to manipulate fabrics in totally new ways. There are the dyes, laser cutting, and other new techniques forming totally new fabrics. There is the downside as well with added pollution caused by some of these new techniques as well as allergic or other unpleasant reactions to some of the chemicals used.

  7. Ikebana152 | | #7

    I went to see the exhibit Saturday, 12/29, and walked away with mixed feelings about technology's influence. The availabilty of more, better, different textiles and dyes and processes was fascinating, especially the opening dress made of a textile that had been created using a 3D printer. From sequins of celluloid to Mary Mcfadden's pleated polyester gown (stunning) to a man's overcoat of rubberized material usually reserved for wetsuits the abilility to create innovative forms from textiles that could be almost sculpted rather than sewn was ripe with possibilities.

    I had the thought though, that much of what I saw, computerized sewing machines or not, would be almost impossible for the home sewer. Who has a machine at home that can mold a seamless dress with a heat process like the Pierre Cardin dress? Will garments in the future contain so much technology that making an au current gament could be out of reach for most of us?

    Frankly, one of the most beautiful garments was a Charless James evening gown, that was so well constructed with boning that it stood on it's own.

    I also am curious about the "care and feeding" of some of these garments. How does one clean a paper dress? If the dress is wired to respond to body changes, can you send it to the cleaners?

    So the exhibit was well done and thought provoking.

    On a different note, I want to respond to Dev-li. Many "people" are aware and make conscious choices to buy products that are not the product of sweat shops or other unethical business practices. I buy coffee at Starbucks because they buy fair trade beans, offer health insurance and retirement benefits unlike the much cheaper coffee i could buy at Dunkin donuts where most people behind that counter aren't afforded the benefits. I stay away from Wal-mart and Joe Fresh. I buy at farmer's markets.

    Negative, sweeping generalities about "people" tend not to produce positive change and I believe are not what this site is for.

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