The culmination of more than a year of research and development, A P P A R E L is an experimental fashion prototype by the Paris-based ‘anticipatory’ design studio N O R M A L S. Imagined for a fictional neighbourhood called Trudent where – thanks to the wonders of widespread automation – “above all things, residents care about their clothes,” garments have reverted to simple functional form (i.e. T-shirts) and ‘style’ is displayed via animated data-derived mesh geometry overlays that are only viewable through augmented reality. A “speculative piece of clothing in the age of data accumulation and machine learning,” like all N O R M A L S projects A P P A R E L provides as much commentary on the present as it does about their jaggedly rendered near-future. Data is already identity, network activity is already style (or more crassly, ‘personal brand’) – this project just pushes both of these truths to a logical conclusion.
Boasting “polygonal hemlines as sharp as razorblades,” N O R M A L’s data garments are viewable via an iOS app. With software development led by Julien Gachadoat (working in openFrameworks), the app allows users to point their phone at the A P P A R E L shirt (or a test image on the project microsite) and connect to their Facebook or Twitter accounts to animate the overlay based on personal network data. Alternatively, users can cycle through one of three ‘templates’ and see some geometric presets at work: facetted shoulder pads shake and jiggle, sinewy threads splay out, and vertical lines ‘rain’ down from the shirt.
A P P A R E L’s app is just a tiny piece of the much larger transmedia puzzle. Most crucially, an overview of the project is given in a slick Adam Curtis-esque documentary (embedded below) and the competitive catwalk culture the AR styles were born in is evocatively described in a short story. Beyond that, a video of the model 3PLUS3MAKE5 (from the aforementioned story) strutting her stuff was shot and a soundtrack was released; all of this material should be not just consumed, but savoured, as N O R M A L S are both deft and peerless when it comes to worldbuilding.
Project Page | AppStore | N O R M A L S
A P P A R E L will be on display at “Coded Couture” (Pratt Manhattan Gallery) Feb 12 – Apr 30
See also: Delineating the Future – an interview with N O R M A L S