There is a certain kind of clothing consumer who does not care how their clothes get made. To this results-oriented type, it doesn’t matter if a dress was drawn on a cocktail napkin or mapped out using toothpicks; it just needs to look good—and if it has pockets, all can be forgiven.
That is not, however, a description of how high fashion works. Collections have themes and inspirations, and more power to you if you can actually identify any of those ideas without being told about them. Menswear line E. Tautz, for instance, cites the “Dome of Discovery” built for the 1951 Festival of Britain as an inspiration.
E. Tautz makes some beautiful sweaters and jackets, but you’d be hard pressed to spot the “Dome of Discovery” in its shop. I’m not necessarily disputing the claim that the dome played some part in the latest collection’s design, but its role is not readily apparent. Nevertheless, this sort of story allows a brand like E. Tautz to sell a t-shirt for £195. Part of what you’re paying for is a good story.
Consider, then, the new collection from Neuro, which “is a reflection on the present and future of the fashion industry.” Like E. Tautz’s dome, that may well be true. Anyhow, here’s how it works: instead of designing clothes using two-dimensional sketches, Neuro uses videogame modeling technology to create forms in three dimensions and then investigate how the clothes will fall under the influence of gravity and whatnot.
One of the most important aspects of this process is that within a very short amount of time you are able to create, visualize and change your design in just a few clicks, without touching any fabric. This design process is then faster, more convenient and definitely more eco-friendly than the traditional techniques.
Once the design is complete, the file can be used in another software to create renderings. This way, campaigns, lookbooks and editorials can be created instantly and fully digitally, without any physical garments. Since everything is virtual the possibilities are endless; you can pose the model the way you like change the set up/lighting of the studio or even make an animation/video.
All of this is interesting, even if none of the elements of this story are new per se. There are plenty of fashion startups that will happily 3D-scan your body and customize the fit of clothes accordingly. Moreover, the design of all sorts of objects—cars being the most obvious example—long ago transitioned to from entirely manual work to various forms of computer-aided design and rendering.
But that is just boring technical talk. The crucial difference between those applications and Neuro is that the latter turns the method of production into a good story. About which: fine. The difference between fashion and just buying clothing is, in large part, a narrative one. Neuro offers an interesting story to go with the occasional intriguing shape. If that’s what it takes to have a greater discussion of how clothes are made, so be it.