STEM in Fashion: The Technology that Held Bella Hadid's Dress
Updated: May 22
There is no doubt that our society is defined by ever-changing fashion trends, but does STEM have anything to do with this?
In terms of fashion design, companies have improved their clothing with new technologies of their own. At Paris Fashion week 2022, French brand Coperni wowed its audience by quite literally painting a white dress onto supermodel Bella Hadid. The spray used on Hadid was cellulose-based, but was also sprayed with cotton, mohair, and nylon—blended with a biodegradable binder and a water-based solvent.
Using polymers (natural and synthetic), Fabrican consists of short fibers bound and mixed with liquid solvents. In this aerosol form, the evaporation of these solvents is triggered once surfaces, such a skin, are hit. The binding agent and fibers used for Fabrican can change the texture of the material and create different pieces.
Mark Liu from The Conversation says, "Fashion is a unique blend of business, science, art, and technology." He hits many points on this, saying that launching a fashion brand requires business skills and that strong math skills are needed to be financially literate. Delving more into the science side, he talks about how fabrics are dependent on materials science and how dying textiles is a process that resembles carbon chemistry.
The dress model Bella Hadid is wearing can be kept hanging in a closet, but even better, it can be converted back into its original liquid form and reused. Not only does Fabrican break technological and fashion boundaries, but it also brings sustainability into a new light. It is refreshing to see such a large name-brand in the fashion industry offer an environmental innovative alternative to fast fashion.
What does this mean for everyday lives though? This technology could be applied to other fields such as healthcare, "where it has been used to produce face masks, protective garments, casts, and bandages," as CNN puts it. This technology could also be used for sustainable packaging, just with different fibers for a delivered package versus a wrapper for storing leftover food. According to Torres’ TED Talk, the fabric created using this spray-on method is sterile, which means it can be applied in the medical industry to produce protective garments and face masks. It can create coverings that are waterproof, flexible and soft for wound dressings and bandages. If the fibers are adjusted, the product can solidify into a hard material to be used as a cast for broken bones.
The reusable fabric also absorbs oil, which means it could be used to clean bodies of water after oil spill disasters.
This kind of technology is similar to 3-D printing, except you make the material by hand and the material is sustainable. Fabrican opens up a new world of possibilities and influences cutting-edge innovation. Instead of loading a design into a 3-D printer and spending hours printing it, you could create your own sustainable design in seconds. As opposed to printing multiple iterations of a design and wasting material from a 3-D printer, you could create a design in seconds and revert it into a liquid if it isn't what you want or need.