Defining Techwear With The Techwear Intern
We explore the world of modern techwear, its outdoors heritage and the future of techwear with the Techwear Intern.
Functionality and clothing have always gone hand in hand. In the past, we had brands such as The North Face and Arc’teryx putting out innovative outdoor-ready gear, with an emphasis on performance, functionality and resistance to the elements. Back in the day, technical wear was for people that enjoyed the outdoors. However, over the last couple of years, technical wear has morphed into techwear, a whole new breed of fashion.
Lots of black, taped seams, straps, waterproof materials and functional pockets are a common sight in the techwear aesthetic of 2018. With key players such as ACRONYM, Stone Island Shadow Project and Y-3 offering a very defined but unique aesthetic combined with quality technical materials and highly functional features, the techwear look is a very defined one.
Above: The Mission Pack Nasa Variant from the Techwear Intern.
But, this look and functionality comes at a price, literally. Creating a highly functional technical piece of clothing isn’t exactly cheap. In the techwear world, spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a jacket is seen as relatively normal. However, many new brands have started popping up, offering performance, functionality and aesthetic for less. Some take this technicality to the next level. DIY items are not only becoming a force to be reckoned with within techwear, but also within fashion in general.
With the definition of techwear being a bit of a grey area, some have taken it upon themselves to explore this definition and expand it for the world to see. Constant innovation is what drives the techwear community and the innovators shape the way that techwear is perceived.
Above: The 30 Day Techwear Challenge. Day 21, Lunarcore Anorak.
In order to gain a better understanding of the many shapes and forms that techwear can take, from techninja to hiker-core, @techwear.intern shares his expertise to guide us in the concrete jungle that is techwear. He recently completed his 30-Day DIY Techwear Challenge where he created a piece of techwear apparel every day! This made quite the impression in the community, resulting in him now working with historic Italian fashion house D’avenza. His view on the state of techwear is certainly one to appreciate.
Above: The 30 Day Techwear Challenge. Day 22, Rainsleeves.
RC: What is your personal definition of techwear?
Re-imagining of clothing as a tool as well as an expression of fashion; where style is represented as preparedness to tackle the challenges in your environment. Improving the human condition in the modern world, applying the foremost that science and technology has to offer in order to advance human experience. Collectively as a species we’ve built a society spanning every corner of the globe that requires all manner of accessories as a barrier of entry to participation. To date however, biology has yet to provide us with pockets or a method of adapting to the weather.
Techwear at its core is the bridge between technology and biology; clothing imbued with confidence, apparel built for ambition. A seamless sequence of moments that become an essential part of our customer’s everyday lives.
RC: What is your favorite part of techwear history?
Looking back to the emergence of the category it was a very exciting time across the apparel industry, a time when the technical side of apparel on whole was driven by athletic performance. In recent years even true technical apparel companies have been handed over to fashion designers, a shift away from experts with an understanding of the manufacturing ecosystem. The result has been little real innovation taking place as designers tweak old products through a fashion lens and lose track of the original intent. More than ever, what’s needed is a return to the type of thinking that made this type of apparel so revolutionary to begin with. Reclaiming a competitive edge starts with putting the technical back into technical apparel. Brands driven by science at the highest levels of management with an intimate knowledge and appreciation of high-performance athletics, as opposed to fashion.
RC: Where do you draw inspiration for your projects?
TI: I pull inspiration from all manner of places… most largely unrelated to techwear itself. Every moment of life is an analysis of the world around me. Constantly asking “Why is this like this? And why is it not like that?”
Above: The 30 Day Techwear Challenge. Day 26, The Worlds Lightest Waterproof Jacket Patterning.
RC: What are your likes and dislikes in and around techwear?
TI: I enjoy the type of design and construction innovations that make me stop and wonder. Those little “I wish I did that” moments excite me most. Brands that hop on techwear bandwagon with nothing to contribute but recycled ideas and absurd concepts certainly aren’t contributing anything. Techwear brands that that seek to add value to everyday life are the ones I follow most closely.
RC: What is your opinion on the smaller brands that are popping up?
TI: As I touched on above, it’s a mixed bag… there’s a tremendous amount of garbage out there, but at the same time there’s also incredible innovations and product coming out of the Asian marketplaces – for great prices. At the end of the day western culture has spent decades shipping manufacturing overseas; by and large Asia hold all that technology now… I’m not sure why anyone is surprised that there exist truly great designers in Asia. What’s taking the industry off guard is an emergence of the radically different approach to manufacturing and selling apparel these designers are taking.
RC: What are the most important things to look out for when creating their custom garments?
TI: The base of all human behavior is fight or flight. If you feel more confident and better prepared to face a challenge, you will do better at it. If you are wearing clothing that prevents you from performing either, you subconsciously take less risk, both physically and intellectually. Restrictive clothing is literally thought constraining.
I hope to achieve a very specific result with my approach to garments. With your body encased in the shell of one of my coats, or your shoulders equipped with one of my packs, you aren’t thinking about the product, or its cost, or what it will do for your social profile. You are thinking about how your confidence just rose, how your anxiety level retreated, you are at rest and have unconstrained focus. This is the nature of emotions imbued into products.
I’d like customers to set out and tackle what’s most important for them, at the highest of their ability because they are armed with the assurance that the team behind the apparel has already tackled the rest of the now trivial challenges life once put between them and their own success.
We have new expectations as consumers… well beyond just Techwear. Outcomes over ownership. Customization over generalization. Improvement over obsolescence.
RC: What projects will you be taking on in the future?
TI: That’s a big question! I’ve been offered career positions beyond where I imagined I’d sit in 10-year’s time… Discussions to release my projects -and some new projects- as collaborations with several major techwear brands are in motion,
My most exciting result from the 30-Day challenge was the inadvertent breaking of a world record for the lightest waterproof jacket! I’m working alongside the amazing team from Massdrop to bring that item to reality as a product by Christmas. It’s really inspirational to be working with such experts… learning a lot about what I don’t know for sure! I have a whole line-up of projects in the works with Massdrop… tune in there later this summer for the first drop!
I look forward to working with a number of recognized techwear brands on projects throughout the year. They’ve given me the opportunity to work on collaboration projects alongside some truly amazing teams of master designers. I’m not allowed to make any formal announcements myself, but I think people are going to be very excited with the products I’ll get to be a part of soon.
RC: Which direction do you see techwear going in the next couple of years?
TI: I hope we see the industry return to value added innovation, and not iterative design for the sake of hype.
Just like the world around us, techwear is constantly changing. However, techwear offers its following to adapt in order to cope with the obstacles and phenomena. The beauty of techwear, just like with any form of art, inspiration can be drawn from anywhere. Techwear is a beautifully complicated melting pot with elements of influence from dystopian futurescapes to athletic performance. As techwear has grown over the years, revolutionary aspect has faded over the years. Coincidentally, the creators within techwear have started to develop and display their talents, meaning that this is only the start of the re-definition of techwear.