The Next Black: The Future of Clothing and Technology

06.05.14 | By
The Next Black: The Future of Clothing and Technology

What we wear and how we wear it is about to change profoundly. At least that’s what The Next Black, a documentary film produced by home appliance manufacturer AEG envisions. Interviewing a selection of innovative companies and designers experimenting with fashion via technology and science today, the film professes fashion’s future is “not about the new, it’s about the next.”


What’s “next” are solutions moving beyond long existing design and manufacturing paradigms which have long loomed over the industry:

  • Digital couture, possibly the most imaginative field of fashion, envisions clothing becomes “a garment with a factory inside” to accomplish the imaginative and whimsical.
  • Biocouture utilizes living organisms to grow clothing and accessories in a method “closer to brewing beer” than weaving fabric, giving a whole new definition of “organic clothing”.
  • Wearable sports technology is already quickly becoming mainstream, with performance monitoring devices of increasingly smaller and inconspicuous size woven right into tops and bottoms worn by athletes and consumers alike.
  • And woven throughout fashion’s future is the thread of sustainability, not only from the manufacturing end, but also directed by the philosophy clothing can be designed as a repairable object more akin to hardware rather than a disposable soft good.






The Next Black encompasses all of these progressive and exploratory fields of fashion’s future, a tomorrow when clothing is designed to be updated and customized like our favorite smartphone app today. The likes of Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia, Suzanne Lee of Biocouture, Nancy Tilbury of Studio XO, Matt Hymers of adidas, and Sophie Mather of YEH Group all contribute their visions about smart clothing and new technologies, and explain how they believe fashion technology will emerge as yet another connective element to a digital lifestyle extending right down to the threads covering our bodies.

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at