Friday, December 06, 2013

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Iris Wants to Know: Do You Think Barbie's New Digital Dress Could Be a Tipping Point for E-Textiles?

Digital Dress Barbie
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A few months ago Hamlet and I had a discussion inspired by an animated Second Life dress that involved whether or not "e-textiles" would become The Next Big Thing, and what role SL might have in testing possible designs on eager shoppers. While I was doubtful that such styles would be anything more than flavor-of-the-week impulse buys in a virtual world, I was equally skeptical that e-textiles would be anything more than a modern version of the laughable retrofuturistic fashions produced in the middle of the 20th century.

Well, I might have to eat my words now that Barbie herself is getting on the e-textiles train.


The LEDs illuminating under Barbie's polyester-blend minidress (and embedded in the doll's curiously flat front) almost certainly don't count as true e-textiles, but the intended effect is pretty clear: Her dress is presented as a dynamic and interactive piece of clothing that animates and changes depending on the user's choices. No, it's not the real thing, but it's close enough in spirit that it could inspire some surprising full-sized fashion choices down the line. It might seem laughable (and a lot of Barbie's past fashion choices certainly have been), but I have to admit that even I find this particular Barbie pretty damn cool. I can only imagine how I might have felt about it when I was younger and the only thing I loved more than my Barbies was the family computer.

I'm still skeptical that we'll see people wearing e-textiles day-to-day any time soon, but given Barbie's influence over generations of budding fashionistas, I could easily be wrong. What do you think: Could Barbie's digital dress be a tipping point for e-textiles, or are they still just a retrofuturistic fantasy?

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Timesand has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan andwith pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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Pussycat Catnap

Good to see comments finally back.

I keep waiting for 'e-textiles' to show up. First saw the idea in a Cyberpunk novel somewhen in the 1980s.

It is more or less possible now.

But this just looks like a 'digital bling' thing. Light shows on a gown or tuxedo have been done by pop stars in concerts before.

I'm waiting to see them put in video screens and adverts you have to pay a fee have NOT show up over cleavage or buttocks... (just think of the sales potential if they could put 'viagra ads' there... :) ).

Maybe your clothes with start coming with a 'license' agreement and they will just turn them a dull mud gray if you disable the ads or don't subscribe...

And you will get Facebook updates along your sleeve or thighs...

- That is e-textiles...

We'll be stuck with it eventually... but not yet.

Though selling people on 'pretty moving lights' is I guess, the gateway drug move.

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