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Brief Published: 9 May 2014

Alchemical Heat-Responsive Jacket


Designer Lauren Bowker has designed a colour-changing leather jacket capable of responding to heat and changes in air temperature to expose the unseen pollution and turbulence in the air around us.

Bowker developed the ink-based chemical compound responsible for this metallic-hued colour change over the course of 10 years with her London-based exploratory studio The Unseen.

The jacket is currently the only piece designed with this alchemical property, but Bowker is positive that in the future other items of clothing will be able to respond to surrounding variables such as sound, moisture, pollution and UV rays. “My alchemy is searching to reveal what we don’t see, feel, hear, or know around us and making it seen,” she explained.

Elsewhere Budapest-based designer Judit Eszter Karpati has experimented with textiles where pattern is influenced by heat and sound (see Chromosonic), while retail brand Gap has collaborated with fashion magazine Visionare on a line of t-shirts featuring colour-changing ink that develops in contact with direct sunlight. 

The applications of these material innovation could be seen more broadly as designers and scientists invent, adjust and develop to cater for environmental concerns. 

For more on this, see our Responsive Colour & Materials report and the React A/W 15-16 Design Directions on designers pushing the boundaries of responsive materials, as well as Advancing Apparel in Consumer Trends for more on smart fabrics. Also see Fashionable Synthetics for inspiration on high-tech production methods infiltrating fashion.