[NOTE: IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT EACH FASHION TRIBE, START HERE]
...90% of our power is from renewable sources.
....cities like Detroit are now models of eco-chic living.
....one of the world's largest construction projects has become the site of so much tree-planting as to have been renamed the Great Green Wall of China.
Author Jonathon Porritt decided we probably have enough bleak Apocalyptic scenarios already and penned a fictional breath of fresh air: a novel about how we averted much gloom and certain doom. "Some people have always been more drawn to dystopian visions of the future," explains the author of The World We Made: Alex McKay's Story from 2050. "The reality is that there are good reasons to be quite gloomy about our future prospects—climate change is quite simply the biggest threat that mankind has ever faced. But rubbing people’s noses in the apocalypse isn’t likely to get them more involved—it just leaves them feeling crushed and disempowered."
This vein of optimism is encouraging to find in a topic-area normally associated with a prepare-for-the-worst outlook, be it Doomsday prepping or wearing Mad Max'ish attire complete with at least one gas mask.
Fortunately, there are a group of designers who aren't content to just throw up their hands and become fashion fatalists in graphic tees emblazoned with hazard symbols or Bansky gas masks, but are instead devoting their efforts toward sartorial solutions, such as:
The “Walking Shelter” (top & below) is a one-person shelter & "mobile habitat" designed by Australian design collective Sibling, that uses the human body in place of poles or a frame and when not in use, can be tucked into a pair of sneakers. (via)
To dress for egress, shimmy into this “Portable Home” (below) designed by three students at Middlesex University in London. The skirt can be morphed into a tent that not only has a shelf for stashing books & mementos, but a "window" with a view as well. (via)
And this clever padded parka by Tom Dixon for Adidas can turn into a sleeping bag:
Although these designs may not come off initially as "futuristic" or "apocalyptic", they are. Why? Because they venture to quietly solve a problem and in the process create something novel. (Much like the fog of the Carl Sandburg poem which slips in on "little cat feet".) However, designs that ostentatiously deem themselves "futuristic" are generally rehashed and unoriginal. After all, how often has the body-con Star Trek uniform been dragged out & retooled (usually superficially) to convey "Future!" Alternatively, the other go-to stock phrase from the Playbook of Futuristic Fashion is to style something to look like it was dredged up from the Black Lagoon and then blinged out. (Like this wonderful Mugler "Chimere" creation from the late 90s that I'm insanely in love with.)
However, when we come across the actual future - those events or discoveries that determine the road ahead - they are usually generic-looking enough to be unrecognizable as anything too paradigm-shifting.
Take the bikini (below) made from nylon beads. So 60s, no? Not really - when you consider the fact it was actually printed out in 3-D using small nylon beads as the "ink" and then fitted using a CAD-scan of the wearer's body. "However spooky in terms of the technology that produced it," observes author William Gibson about the difference between "futuristic" and the actual future,"it doesn't strike us, on sight, as particularly futuristic." Essentially, what separates the "futuristic" from the actual future is function. The former tends to focus on the outlandish for its own sake - which does have a certain artistic merit, more along the lines of telling us about how we see ourselves right now - while the latter reflects breakthroughs in fabric technology. One of the last big breakthroughs in fabric was spandex; B.S. (Before Spandex), the only way for flat fabric to accommodate our non-flat curves was with darts, seams, bias cuts and other construction techniques. However, A.S., designers weren't required to always dart and seam for shape, giving rise to new possibilities in silhouette, cut, performance.
NOTE: For you trendspotting types, the place to really apply your future-feelers is in the area of new fabrics and fabric technologies.
Fabric technology and expanding the performance of fabric characterized the massively influential but oddly under-the-radar Italian designer Massimo Osti. The graphic designer turned sportswear innovator, who also amassed a collosal collection of around 35,000 different unusual fabrics, invented techniques for rubberizing satin, flax & wool; creating novel ways to dye fabrics; and even engineered a fabric which changed color as the outside temperature changed. Not surprisingly, he still has a cult following for vintage pieces he designed under his various labels, including Stone Island, C.P. Company and Left Hand. Probably the reason Osti's stuff resists looking dated & vintage-kitschy is that his design aesthetic was driven by functionality, giving it that streamlined timelessness that characterizes truly forward-looking fashion in which to sail stylishly into the Apocalytical future.
Why not check out the podcast I recorded about this?
Music: "Exotics" by Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com
- Lesley Scott