London Fashion Week: Nokia and Fyodor Golan create 'world's first' smart skirt

Fashion and photography have always gone hand in hand, but Nokia's Brand Lab has taken it one step further by physically combining the two to build an interactive piece of clothing.

London Fashion Week saw the launch of the world’s first piece of interactive clothing, a skirt constructed from Nokia Lumia phones, which displayed images to mimic the look of actual fabric as it falls around a moving body.

Created by Nokia, design duo Fyodor Golan and technology company Kin, Nokia’s smart skirt debuted at the Fyodor Golan catwalk show. Marketing spoke with Nokia Brand Lab head Costas Syrmos and Nokia activations director Annie Kearney to find out how it came about.

How did you come up with the idea for a connected skirt?

Annie Kearney: "We’ve been talking to London College of Fashion for a long time to find the right project for us to get involved with and support new designers. Nokia has a long-standing history of working in the fashion world, for example bringing Bruce Weber and David Bailey together for a shoot recently, and so we started looking at the Lumia 1520 and how the resolution, camera and battery size make it really useful for the front row to use. We wanted to tell that story but in a slightly different way and see how we can be creative about it.

"The London College of Fashion’s innovation team suggested Fyodor Golan so we talked through the concept and technology, and they were the ones who came up with the vision for the skirt. We then started working Kin, who broke down the technology and built it up again as this incredible creation that shows off the clarity brightness of the screens, making the hard phone look like it’s a soft material."

Why did you choose to collaborate with Fyodor Golan?

AK: "It’s their second year on-schedule so we wanted to help them make the show that they’ve envisioned. They’ve got a really great vision when it comes to innovation and where fashion is going. They were also really keen to collaborate which is really important to us. We don’t want to have to tell someone what to do, we want to co-create otherwise its not authentic. We’ve got their vision, our technology, what can we do together, and they were up for doing that and it worked."

How does the app work?

Costas Syrmos: "Kin created a bespoke app that uses gyroscopic technology to tell the phones where they are in relation to the earth and it also where they are in relation to the body and to the skirt. So that’s how we can put different images on there. They can either be a mosaic image, one stretched image or a totally fluid image. There’s a C# overlay treatment that gives a shimmer effect, so when the skirt moves the screens look like a piece of material. We wanted to look at what’s possible within the realms of the Windows phone software and use that technology in an interesting way."

A skirt made out of screens has huge potential for social media, how do you intend to use it?

AK: "We don’t want to do anything that’s been done before. You’ve seen the Twitter dresses; we don’t want to do that, we want to see how we can really innovate and break boundaries with this, and obviously social media will be a big way for us to tell that story."

Can you let us know about any of the other developments going on at Brand Lab?

CS: "Our vision is to create marketing that allows people to be able to see what the brand is becoming, so all our projects have a bit of future thinking. We’re taking things that are already happening and moving them in a new direction, and in a way that adds a new story."

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