In conditions[LC1] . ‘The earliest materials used for clothing

In the
context of this study, the focus will be based on clothing and an exploration
of material qualities, as well as their primary functions. The main objectivity
of materials is to act as a layer of protection against surrounding
environments. For instance, protection from the natural elements, keeping the
wearer warm/cool and dry, as well as man-made hazards. Along with this basic
survival purpose, clothing holds four key secondary functions: modesty;
identification; status; and adornment. Both primary and secondary factors
influence the type of clothing worn for different jobs, places and time
periods. This study examines materials and their qualities and how their
original primary roles have been manipulated to carry multifunction purposes. 

 

Why in history have people needed functional
elements in clothing?

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In theory,
materials hold three main protective functions; warmth, shelter, and
resistance. Historians have found that humans primarily started wearing
clothing as a form of
insulation against extreme weather conditionsLC1 . ‘The earliest materials used for clothing likely consisted of fur,
skin, leaves, and grass that was draped, wrapped or tied around the body,
depending on the type of climate.’ Neanderthals (a subspecies of archaic
humans, around between 300,000 and 100,000 years ago) hunted mammoths, bears
and other animals for food, and thus used the furs and skins to keep warm and
dry (fig 1). When investigating as far back as the Palaeolithic Period, it is
clear materials were singularly used as a means to survive. However, as
civilisation developed, furs have become less of a necessity and more of a
luxury, becoming a symbol of wealth and status. Despite the transformation,
furs and skins are still essential in certain climates such as the northern
areas of Alaska, used by Native Americans. Before the arrival of the Europeans,
Native American garments were fashioned from various animals and natural
materials within the surrounding environment. Although, unlike the Stone Age,
ornamentation embellishments were fundamental aspects of their garments and
dress. Personal adornment was
heavily influenced
by culture as well as warfare and beauty. Garments were richly elaborate and
ornate, combining the required, functional element of warmth with detail and
beauty (fig 2). LC2 6-CC3 

The clothing of the
Inuit and Yupik has also adapted through time singularly as a means to survive.
Such cultures gather materials from animal skins as a form of warmth from the
Arctic cold (fig 3). Because of the hostile climate, it is sewn and tailored to
the body to keep the wind out. The fur or pelt of the animal is retained, and
garments are often worn fur side in.

One regular material
used in such garments is wool. Wool within itself is an extremely flexible and
durable material, useful when it comes to insulation and protection. ‘Wool contains air gaps within its fibres
which thus act as a barrier, preventing a loss of body heat to the surrounding
environment.’ It can also be adapted as a barrier against torrid
conditions. ‘For instance, in the Sahara Desert, Bedouins wear thin
wool to keep them cool in the uncomfortable heat. This is because the air
pockets within the fibres provide both insulation and breathability.’ Inuit garments also incorporated sealskin
and seal gut, making them waterproof and thus as a form of resistance.

 

 

In comparison to other
societies, furs are a symbol of affluence and status, seen as a prized and
commercially important commodity. For instance, throughout history furs were
worn by kings and other high-status individuals. This is indifference to the
Inuit cultures that use furs, skins, and wools as a necessity to survive.
Ancient societies of China, Greece, and Rome all use fur as a secondary
function of status hierarchy, the function becoming more of an overt expression
of status and material well-being. In contemporary society, furs have become a
major business enterprise, worn by a range of individuals, using the material
for both primary and secondary purposes.

As well as maintenance of body temperature,
clothing has also been manufactured as a form of protection against man-made
hazards such as weaponry. One key example of this kind of protection is armor. Armor
is generally made of metal, but woods and leathers have also been used. One of
the very first forms of armor was constructed of metal plates pressed between
layers of leather, held together by metal studs. As society has progressed, the
production of weaponry has developed which in turn has changed the armor and
its qualities. The construction of armor has thus become more complex, holding
a conjunction of fragments which work together, allowing the maximum amount of
movement and defense. Alongside these manifold purposes, most armor is engraved
with detailed motifs and etchings. This is an example of the close link between
primary and secondary functions, the adornment being a status hierarchy for
soldiers. The characteristics of armor were later adopted by Goth and Punk
cultures to portray a ‘dangerous’ identity. Materials such as leathers and
chains were thus introduced to a new whole range of designs and everyday wear.
Once again, this shows the transformation of the primary function to the
secondary function of garments.        

The Future of Fabrics and Electronic
Technology- what has science tried to achieve in this and why?

In
contemporary society, the gap between science and fashion is narrowing. The engineering
of new fabrics and microfibers create a whole new range of looks and performing
characteristics.

For
instance, metals are combined with textile techniques to provide very versatile
fabric structures. Despite this drastic change of design and technology,
materials still need to hold the same primary protective functions and
aesthetics that have always been required. The concept of futurism has had a
great influence in the design of wearable mechanisms such as the incorporation
of devices which act as a prosthetic enhancement of human senses. As designers
start looking towards the future, the fast rate development of the environment
is a major topic that calls for awareness. Materials and products which are
multifunctional are undoubtedly less damaging to the environment. Ecology has
been made a primary concern within textile manufacture, in addition to the
design of wearable mechanisms which provide multifunctional purposes including
the protection from incoming problems of the future. Overall, the advancing and
developing composition of society is one of the main influential factors that
has caused the adaption of materials in fashion.

Microfibers are
one example of recent developments in textile engineering, adapted to carry the
desirable qualities needed in garments. The fibres are so fine that it is
possible to construct fabrics dense enough to be windproof as well as
‘breathable’. A microfiber fabric maintains an even body temperature in both
hot and cold conditions, keeping the wearer comfortable.  Synthetic fibres have also gained an increase
of appeal, for instance, polyamide and polyester. The polyamide was first
developed in 1938 and was used for military purposes in world war two because
of its characteristics of strength and durability. Polyester was invented
shortly after and carries similar traits of durability, elasticity, resilience,
lightness, and strength. Like polyamide, polyester improves the performance of the
fibre it is blended with. Originally, the advance developments and research of
these fibres were initially for the performance of sportswear in extreme
weather conditions. However, microfiber fabrics are now not only used for
sportswear and other high-performance clothing, but also for fashion, interior
fabrics, and technical textiles.

Regenerated
fabrics are the product of the advancement of society, companies are beginning
to realise the advantaged of starting with natural resources and chemically
engineering them to create a range of new fabrics. British research in the
development of the regenerated fibre viscose rayon mostly involves using raw
material wood pulp from the tree Eucalyptus Grandis or a pine imported from
North America. Aware of ecological issues, the forestry is carefully monitored
so that fallen trees are replaced. One of the most common ways of introducing
new technology is to use it to replace an existing material or process. Viscose
rayon was first introduced as a replacement for silk, viewed as a more
economical alternative.

Stretch is
an increasingly important quality in today’s fabrics and this is where both
natural and synthetic rubber come into their own. Synthetic rubber can be mixed
with a variety of other materials to vary the aesthetic, texture and
performance of a fabric. Neoprene can be combined with stretch textiles and
knitted synthetics to provide unusual fabrics for wetsuits and other
sportswear. The warmth and softness of rubber make it ideal for wearing close
to the body, and an important ecological consideration is that both natural and
synthetic rubber are recyclable.

The
importance of the climate change has a huge impact on the textile manufacture,
design, and fashion. Before the awareness of this universal issue, material qualities
were manipulated to serve only primary and secondary functions, mainly focusing
on the qualities of warmth, strength, and resistance. The elements of
recyclability and durability have had an increasing importance within the
advancements of technology.

The Transformation of Fashion:
Contemporary Designers

The vast
developments of technology have transformed fashion and its functions, machines
becoming more apparent in design aesthetic. Daniel Cooper is one example
of a designer who makes the function the main aesthetic focus in a garment. He
designed a Chameleon Jacket (fig7) which monitors and protects the wearer from
pollution. The jacket holds a Neoprene face mask that can be worn over the face
and nose, with built-in detectors that change from blue to orange in serious
pollution levels. His awareness of the environment is a key example of how
designers, particularly in today’s society, must carry a consciousness when it
comes to ecology. Not only do companies need to fit regulation rules concerning
wasteful damage, but the aspect of futurism must also be an inclusive element
when being evaluated. For instance, contemporary designers need to look at the
effects of textile manufacturing and how much impact their garments fabrics,
processes and textile finishes will have on the climate. As well as creating
the problem of environmental issues, designs such as Daniel Cooper’s shows that
it can also be part of the solution; Cooper’s design has used contemporary
technology to create a form of protection from the growing issue of air
pollution.

Other
garments that share his same orientation of function is Data wear. Data wear is
a rubber suit that incorporates sensors at each of the body’s joints,
monitoring movement in the form of a graph. The suit was developed by TCASE and
is simply designed only for purposeful reasons.

Most of the
leading fashion designers working with new materials and technologies are from
Japan – the pre-eminence of Japanese research means that they have first access
to new developments, for instance, Issey Miyake. He uses advanced
technologies to investigate both new materials and techniques to create unique
garments which are beautiful, as well as practical and wearable. He often mixes
natural textiles with synthetic textiles, such as silk with polyester, WHY and
subjects the fabric to various finishes. His clothes look to the future while
never abandoning the rich traditions of a global cultural past of fashion and
textiles.

Missing??? Who  ……….another
fashion designer who enjoys using innovative textiles and is deeply influenced
by new technology. She often takes inspiration from high-performance sportswear
fabrics and finishes. One collection was created from light
reflective plastics, a material which has filtered down from space technology.
Examples and analyse

Junya
Watanabe creates a
space-age look with his futuristic fabrics and unusual tailoring. Watanabe’s
clothes give emphasis to the materials he uses, which include laminated
synthetics, Neoprene, and industrial fibers. In Watanabe’s 1995/96 Collection
his theme was ‘Futurism’ and thus used the latest high-tech fabrics. To make
sure the garments were entirely functional he made the models continuously move
round to make sure their movement were unrestricted. His designs are influenced
by historical clothing but utilize the latest technology.

Hussein Chalayan’s work is fuelled by new technology,
science, and radical materials. Chalayan is known for his `use of materials and
his forward-thinking approach to new technology. He challenges the preconceived
ideas of what clothing is, should and can be.

 

Conclusion
– 

Functionality
is the driving force behind engineered fabrics and the competitive market means
materials must serve as many functions as possible. In embracing these new
materials, the design industry is re-evaluating much of its thinking about aerodynamics,
form, process and, of course, materials themselves. Engineers have changed
traditional materials, such as glass, ceramic, nylon, and wood into enhanced,
new and hybrid forms. Society now has the ability to combine the advantages of
traditional materials with the most advanced product of technology.

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