Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics

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Release Date: 
February 1, 2016
Laurence King Publishing
Reviewed by: 

Most readers might think that Smart Textiles for Designers is about fabric, designers, and technology that when combined create fabrics that are sustainable and ecologically friendly. But that is only a minor segment of the book. We are faced with reality versus expectation, which might have been solved with a more explanatory and less misleading subtitle. The essence of the book is more attuned to textile engineering and not fashion in its most considered sense.

“We are on the cusp of a revolution, where the intersection of technology, the human body and everyday objects will become completely seamless. Smart textiles are a key part of this revolution.”  

Pailes-Friedman seems to think we are on the cusp on this miraculous period, possibly a revolution that will influence the worlds of textiles and fashion. To say we are on the cusp is like saying an encyclopedia is but a blurb, just as saying we are in the midst of a revolution when it is in fact an evolution. The hyperbole involved in these statements is unnecessary.

If you can wade through the difficult information that she provides, you might note that Smart Textiles is much more about technology and its link to textiles and not to designers of fashion but designers who are in part scientists, technicians, and engineers. What one gleans is that the technology and ever expanding knowledge has really only been beneficial and utilized by companies and designers who specialize in active sport apparel as well for those who specialize in extreme professions such as firefighters and astronauts. The filter down effect will take many more decades before it truly reaches the fashion business and its designers to any great degree. One cannot consider a dress that lights up as anything more than a gimmick at this point, any more than you can think wearing a shirt that serves as a lie detector is a major fashion statement of any kind.

“Smart textiles don’t describe the material, as much as its innovative character. In some cases this might mean the textile has integrated electronics and a computational function.”  

Again, what is presented will be considered to be far more technical than expected for the average reader especially with its use of terminology reserved for these highly specified areas of development. Sadly, the book reads more like a thesis rather than a book that one might select based on entertainment value or just broadening one’s knowledge of textiles. It seems that Pailes-Freidman is quite premature in her enthusiasm and expectation of what is to come in the near future especially when it entails clothing and apparel designers.