Style before technology: Rethinking the design process for e-textiles garments

IFFTI 2019

Paper 176

Amy Chen
& Jeanne Tan

Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Philip Henry

University of Leeds, UK

Style before technology: Rethinking the design process for e-textiles garments

This paper recommends the inclusion of E-textiles in fashion not necessarily as the addition of electronic components onto the fabric, but as the integration of working mechanisms into the textile and garment design, in order to fulfil aesthetic and functional design requirements. This paper describes the preliminary research into haptic feedback textiles, to illustrate a methodology that can be undertaken to develop E-textiles garments with a closer integration of fashion and function.

E-textiles garments can often be considered as a less than seamless combination of fashion and electronics. Existing examples in fashion often appear to simply apply electronic components to a finished fashion garment, rather than an integrated design process. The inherent change of the two fields, soft fabrics versus rigid printed circuit boards, contributes to this situation.

This paper reviews research that has brought the two fields closer together: the development of E-textiles construction kits, textiles-based electronics components and embodied design using E-textiles. E-textiles construction kits, while readily available, are targeted towards teaching and learning, rather than as a tool for design. Textiles-based electronic components have primarily been researched from the technological perspective, with the latest developments seeming far removed from the field of fashion and textiles design. While the embodied design process can be used to create more meaningful human garment interaction, it does not address E-textiles within a fashion design process, a process that must balance different design requirements, outlined in Lamb and Kallal (1992) Functional, Expressive and Aesthetic model.

This paper has sought to address the complex nature of E-textile in a fashion design process by presenting a hypothetical E-textiles fashion methodology. It has been developed following a review of design processes undertaken within fashion and E-textiles design, as well as original preliminary practice-based research.

Amy Chen

Amy Chen is a PhD student at the Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research interests are within the field of interactive textiles, with a focus on utilising knitted structures and knit technologies in the development of e-textiles. Amy Chen previously studied Textile Design at the University of Leeds, and Fashion Innovation at Manchester Metropolitan University.