Spray On Clothes

With it being London Fashion Week, and especially living in London, it’s tough not to notice at least some of what is going on in the fashion industry even if it does stray somewhat from my typical area of interest.  Then I spotted this on Saatchi Design‘s Twitter feed, demonstrating the perfect overlap of disciplines to attract my attention.

Spanish fashion designer Manel Torres has joined forces with Imperial College London‘s finest scientists to develop a world first – spray on clothing which can be worn, washed and worn again.  By combining short fibres of either wool, linen or acrylic with a polymer a spray-friendly solvent has been created which can tailor clothes to the individual.  No more mere ‘limited editions’ or ‘short customised runs’, each of these pieces is entirely unique.  Very neat.

Torres “really wanted to make a futuristic, seamless, quick and comfortable material,” and in doing so has “ended up returning to the principles of the earliest textiles such as felt, which were also produced by taking fibres and finding a way of binding them together without having to weave or stitch them.”

The spray forms a seamless fabric which, amongst others, has fantastic potential for application with sporting garments.  In an industry where microns can make the difference between being World Champion or not, streamlining products even further, shaving every fraction of a gram possible, and (quite literally) moulding outfits to competitors could prove extremely fruitful.  Take Speedo’s LZR , or Cathy Freeman‘s hooded outfit back in 2000 , both attempting to reduce resistance by the tiniest amounts.  Incomprehendible to you or I, but to a challenging World Champion it’s everything.

The controversial LZR from Speedo, and Freeman at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

I’m also aware that apparent “seamless” garments are available on the high street which offers reduced friction and chafing in use, but essentially they are still stitched and manually joined, which when magnified to, say, the Olympics, could make all the difference.  I think I’d really like someone such as Nike or Adidas to get their hands on a sample and conduct some athlete wind and speed tests, just to see how much of a difference this technology could make.

As it stands Manel Torres is launching this material as part of his spring/summer collection at the Science in Style show at LFW.  A typical t-shirt takes about 15 minutes to spray on, so at the moment its not going to help you get dressed any quicker, but as it is improved you never know – you could well wake up one morning and have a suit sprayed on to your torso as you walk out your front door.  The ‘fabric’ is also very cold when sprayed, which could possibly prove problematic for, or certainly prevent the immediate creation of, “spray on underwear” (Oh, come on, you were all thinking about it!).

This breakthrough in materials has prompted the launch of Fabrican Ltd to further develop the product, exploring additional applications such as “providing spray-on bandages without applying any pressure for soothing burnt skin, or delivering medicines directly to a wound.”  There is also the increased development for the fashion industry and even furniture and car interiors, which could prompt more natural and organic shaped components which in the past have been difficult or expensive to upholster.

There’s even the potential to embed medicine into the fabric blend, meaning that furniture could be designed to help you quit smoking by simply sitting on a nicotine-infused spray chair!

Fabrican’s “sit down and quit smoking” concept.

More information and videos demonstrating this on the Fabrican site.


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