Tank has been experimenting with ways to merge fashion and technology for over a decade. As far back as when the now ubiquitous term "fashion tech" was more commonly known as the Y2K era sounding "cyber fashion".
Now, with the explosion of VR and AR, she’s returned to ideas that were dreamt up before the technology had caught up, and has created a brand new fashion experience called mimemeAR. An idea that expands the parameters of fashion, using augmented computer graphics to add virtual layers to clothing.
After only three months in the making (and full-time work commitments), Tank and her team—fashion designer Antonio Ciutto, and designer and founder of fashion-tech label MOON Berlin Christian Bruns—were able to develop the concept into a working prototype that was demoed at the Fashion Fusion award show on January 18. And with their 2nd place win, they are ready to take the concept to the next level.
How it works
Using a smart device with a camera, you can visualize different textiles and 3D objects on clothes that have special markers. This allows you to try on clothes you may not be able to afford, or play around with costumes and avatars–kind of like a next level snapchat filter for fashion. With these kinds of possibilities, the team aims to inspire fashionistas to make new fashion statements, to rework fashion, or explore being someone- or something-else. They call it "the Emperor’s New Clothes for the selfie generation."
Below you can see the garments with motifs that act as markers. The camera recognizes the markers, enabling the digital graphics to be displayed on the clothes.
“The augmented reality app Mimeme provides users with a new interactive and digitally designable fashion experience,” Nikolaus Röttger, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Germany, said when presenting the team with the award.
“The jury honored the achievements of the team, who with their Mimeme project demonstrated how modern, highly advanced technologies can inject more fun, innovation and individuality into the fashion industry of the future.”
Tank says she’s excited to explore the social aspect further, imagining a party with people all wearing AR goggles and dressed in digital fashion. Or even a future scenario where you can wear one set of clothes, and if enough people are interacting using the app, you can change your image throughout the day; for instance, from workwear to evening wear.
While these use cases may take longer to develop, what they have created is already fluid enough for the digital graphics to follow your body. This means MimimeAR can be used in an industry setting, allowing fashion designers to create digital collections and samples, and minimize the need for physical production.
"We are aware of how fast fashion is changing. The whole ready to wear industry is getting so out of control; the seasons are shorter and faster. It's all about hyper production. But what's even faster than the way fashion is produced? Digital. So why don’t we have digital fashion that doesn't even need to be sent off to be produced," Tanks says.
The MimemeAR team hopes that the Fashion Fusion win will open doors for collaborations with designers, and to attract investors to develop the gamification and social side. We’re also looking forward to helping Tank by conducting research and expanding on use cases.
Tank wanted to add a thank you to IXDS for believing in the idea, and giving her the flexibility to work on the project.
Watch this space!