Last month, certain corners of the Internet descended into a full-blown trouser-wetting tornado of excitement, followed by a rapid chain of denial, anger, depression and acceptance over the news that a supposed real-life, Back To The Future-inspired hoverboard was, in fact, an elaborate hoax. We were just as keen to believe it as anyone. After all, no kid who grew up in the ’80s can be blamed for believing (however naively) that such a thing might one day be possible. Some days it’s all that gets us out of bed in the morning.
So you can imagine our reaction when we read John Gertner’s recent Fast Company article on Google’s super secretive Google X labs that hinted the idea might not be so ludicrous after all. In fact, if Gertner is to be believed, the Google guys have already done half the job; they’ve simply had to move onto other, more pressing projects and left the groundwork to mothball while they figure out how to make the world stop laughing at Google Glass.
While that’s no doubt a worthwhile use of their time (although perhaps not as worthwhile as building a hoverboard), reading the article got us thinking: what could the world of fashion accomplish if it had the help of such agile, scientific minds and the resources of one of the world’s most lucrative companies to push it forward? If no idea was too ridiculous, no concept too far-fetched, and not budget too prohibitive, what would a room full of prodigious scientific genii do to change the way we dress? Here are a few of our suggestions:
Imagine if, instead of buying clothes in different colors, you bought blank items in different silhouettes that could be programmed with bespoke patterns and designs, like an advanced version of the liquid ink currently seen in e-book readers. Never again would you have trouble matching an item to an outfit or have to extend the walls of your wardrobe to make way for “this season’s color.” Brand addicts could subscribe to their favorite labels and download their latest lookbooks, while designers wouldn’t have to worry about excessive dead stock or finding the right market locations for a particular style. In a scene as heavily reliant on classics as streetwear, where so many looks consist of staples that are simply rotated or worked on top of, it could make a lot of sense. You’d also never have to worry about running into someone at a party wearing the same shirt as you.
There isn’t a sneaker freak on earth who hasn’t at some point bought some shoes they were so in love with that they didn’t dare wear them. The box-fresh condition is a thing of delicate beauty and even one quick trip around the block is enough to dull the unworn sheen of a virgin pair – let alone taking them to a bar or party where you might actually get seen in them. But what if there was a way for your shoes to undo all the evils that you threw at them each night? A way for the panels to repel dirt, fill in scratches, mend holes, buff suede and look brand new after just a few hours? Self-healing technology is already in existence, but we propose that, instead of using it to maintain space stations or prevent chemical leaks, the world puts it to use on something we can all really gain from: fresh kicks, every single morning.
With display technology getting more and more advanced all the time and Samsung bringing “flexible screens” to the market in its next generation of smartphones, surely it’s just a matter of time before it starts to filter its way into fashion. Why have a simple, static pattern or logo on your clothing when you could have a moving one? In fact, why have a logo at all? Why not have your favorite music video or a fractal animation created by a cutting-edge conceptual artist, or footage of your cat struggling to get out of a cardboard box? Nokia has already scratched the surface of what this technology is capable of when it created a skirt entirely out of Lumia smartphones earlier this year. Now we want to take it to the next level.
Whether any of this ever actually makes it beyond the realms of our overactive imagination, only time will tell. That said, we’d quite happily settle for a hoverboard…