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Wearable Technology: ASU students explore the future of fashion

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By Annika Tomlin

ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts students explored fashion’s future during its inaugural Wearable Technology show.

Fledgling designers like senior Angelina Molina were asked, “What do you think fashion will look like after COVID?”

“Basically, for the technology class, we really look a little into what is wearable technology and what are the sciences and technologies that can go hand in hand with fashion,” Molina says.

“We then created a concept. The professor pretty much leads us through and helps us along the way.”

Molina chose to design pieces that explore the connection between mental health and fashion.

“I do know that there have been a lot of studies that say people who struggle with mental health often dress in darker or aggressive clothing,” Molina explains about one of her pieces.

“They cover up a lot as (compared) to people who don’t experience it as badly. Those who may not have mental health issues often dress in lighter clothing and maybe show off a little bit more. I wanted to look at the impact of mental health from COVID.”

The first piece in Molina’s collection is a dress that is “very light, very colorful.”

“I wanted to showcase that this is maybe the happier side of mental health issues,” she says.

Lights on the dress glow with each heartbeat. As the heart rate increases, so do the lights.

Her second piece tackles the “negative aspects of mental health,” according to Molina.

“I wanted to go with something big, dramatic, dark and heavy to capture the negative sides,” Molina says.

Motion detectors sense the distance from one person to another.

“I wanted this to mimic how I, personally, feel during my anxiety attacks,” Molina says. “When I am around a lot of people, my heart rate increases. That is one of my symptoms, and I wanted to showcase it in this place. (The light) changes from blue to red, with blue being around 6 feet or farther.”

FASHIONISTAS

Additional students who presented their designs at the show include Ada Ashong, Meera Singh, Virginia Karmondi, Aubreeana Adams and Jennifer Ashmore.

Adams’ design reflected simpler times and incorporated LED lights into her fairy-inspired piece that she designed and modeled for the fashion show.

Ashong named her collection “Permission Required.” Magnets and magnet sensors allowed a mask-like flap to open and close.

Dubbed “Touch Me Not,” Singh’s collection was based on the sensitive plant curls when touched.

Karmondi used yellow and red lights that indicated when the wearer’s posture is poor or proper. She called it “Brace Yourself.”

Ashmore based her pieces on her oldest brother, who is a quadriplegic. Magnets help her brother slip on and off his pants. A higher piece of fabric on the back eliminates the sagging that occurs when transferring in and out of a wheelchair. She created inserts for socks that help decrease inflammation and increase circulation in his legs.

FASHION IS HER PASSION

Molina, who has been into fashion since a child, was originally a forensic science major. When she realized that wasn’t for her, a counselor helped her find other options at ASU.

“She mentioned that there was a fashion program, which I didn’t even know ASU had,” Molina says.

“(The program is) only a couple of years old, so I went on a tour and saw a lot of the classes. I saw a construction class as well as an illustration class. I just fell in love with the fitting and the vibe of the whole fashion program. That’s what really captured my interest for the ASU fashion program.”

Graduating in spring 2022, Molina is considering her options, including taking post-graduate classes in coding. She had one course, but she received help from a Ph.D. student.

“I found it really interesting. I want to continue to incorporate technology into fashion,” she says. “Coding is interesting, so I want to learn more about it and be able to do it myself.” CT

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