Computers and Fashion

Overview The fashion industry with all its glitz and glamour seems far away from the world of precision-programmed computers. However, computers have become an integral part of apparel design, manufacturing, and distribution. To explore the topic, start with an overview of fashion software and technology where you can follow links to subtopics that interest you, including body scanning systems and RFID tags. If you want to explore the Lands’ End Virtual Model technology and try on clothes online, connect to www.landsend.com and click the link for My Virtual Model. For lots of information on RFID technology, including the controversy about its use in clothing labels, look it up RFID in Wikipedia.

Wearable computers Much of the pioneering work for wearable computers was initiated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. One of the best places to start exploring wearable computers is the MIT Media Lab Web site (www.media.mit.edu/wearables). The links at this site change frequently, but always point to interesting new developments in wearable computers. A friendly attitude of competition between MIT and Carnegie Mellon helps motivate students to come up with ever more creative ideas. To see what Carnegie Mellon students are up to, check out www.wearablegroup.org/.

For descriptions and photos of many wearable prototypes, use the links at wearables.blu.org.

How would you like a handbag that keeps track of your umbrella, wallet, and keys? What about a scarf that displays today’s pollution level, temperature, and humidity? According to the New Scientist Web site, smart fabrics can do this and more.

Fabric Design Fabric designers are creating bold new plaids and pattern designs using their computers. You can find out all about this fascinating use of technology at the Wonder Weave Systems Web site. Make sure you click the Jacquard Sample Loom link to see how computer-generated designs can be instantly output to a loom to create sample fabrics.

You can become your own clothing designer with special fabric that runs through your inkjet printer, available from Jo-Ann and other fabric stores.

Computerized pattern design and cutting The clothes you wear originate as patterns, which re used to cut the cloth that is sewn into shirts, skirts, jeans, and jackets. Computers help automate this task. At www.apparelsearch.com/pattern_maker.htm you’ll find lots of apparel-related links, including some for pattern making machines.

Fashion industry jobs If you’re considering a career in the fashion industry, you should obtain an industry overview and list of jobs, check out this fashion employment guide. At the Cool-Jobs-in-the-Fashion-Industry Web page, you’ll find links that describe unique fashion-related career possibilities. Once you have a list of job titles, you can Google them and find sites like this U.K. career Web site, which explains the job of a pattern grader and how computers help to automate the job.