Today’s textile industry sees a very progressive and innovative moment, with smart textiles paving the way for change and new possibilities for designers around the world. Now, clothing is not just about providing for coverage; conveying our sense of style and protecting us from the environmental elements. Designers are updating unlikely textiles to add intrigue to their collection. With smart textiles taking center stage, we can now see fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer. Added functionality including the ability to communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow, has made these smart textiles stand out from their more conventional predecessors.
World renowned and innovative Danish shoemaker Ecco have extensive experience when it comes to constantly improving and researching new techniques and fabrics. Ecco Leather – an innovation and research lab located in The Netherlands – develops highly progressive leather qualities for some of the industry’s most iconic contemporary designers and brands.
Their latest innovation is in close collaboration with the Jerusalem-born designer and artist Sruli Recht, who is noted for his innovative and sometimes controversial use of materials. Together they have invented a transparent form of leather both supple and pliable. A small team of innovators within Ecco Leather worked for 3 years studying old Egyptian and Greek tanning techniques. Translucent leather in itself isn’t necessarily a new thing. In the past, both goats and sheep hides have been used to create a translucent effect, but they had a hard, parchment like finish to them. Sruli Recht however, managed to create a pliable version that was also large enough for clothing applications. After studying what other designers had done to achieve translucent leathers over recent years, Sruli Recht began to apply up-to-date manufacturing methods to solve practical issues.
By combining these with modern industrial applications they reached a breakthrough; with their innovative, transparent cow-skin leather being not only soft but pliable, strong and easily workable with added water protection. This futuristic material, named Apparition for its spectral qualities and almost ghostlike appearance, still maintain the properties of a traditional leather, and are available in a range of rich and controlled colours. The garments and shoes, specially designed by Sruli Recht, are based on natural amber, transparent green, black, brown-orange, bone and blood red, but any colour is theoretically possible.
The textile industry is set to go through an exciting time in fabric reinvention with new creative offerings, seeing designers experimenting with both new and old textiles to create innovative new possibilities and fresh ideas.
Magnus Høst is a freelance creative consultant and editor based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Magnus helps brands connect (or re-connect) with consumers through visual storytelling. His consultancy and multidisciplinary approach is based on trend forecasting, an understanding of contemporary culture and lifestyle.