Material gains

13th January 2006 at 00:00
Techno Textiles 2 - Revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design

By Sarah E Braddock Clarke and Marie Mahony

Thames and Hudson pound;29.95

Technology has had an impact on many aspects of modern society but there can be few areas in which developments have been as great as those seen over the last 10 years in the field of textile and fabric technology.

For this reason the authors of Techno Textiles 2 - Revolutionary fabrics for fashion and design have revised and expanded their original volume published in 1998 so that the vast range of new innovations in the field are effectively recorded.

The book is divided into two main sections - Innovations and Applications - as well as a reference section subdivided into a glossary, biographies and histories, addresses, exhibitions, galleries collections and a general bibliography.

The introductory section covering "The future of fabrics and fibres"

details changes in the sophisticated nature of synthetics. Where once these fibres were limited in their performance, it is a common experience now to be able to buy products that seem to have complex and even contradictory properties. They may be totally permeable to air and yet retain heat while resisting water, or, as in the case of clothing designed for extreme environments, several layers may be combined to create composite materials which perform ever more complex series of functions. Phase-changing materials contained within microcapsules and interwoven into sports garments, storing heat when the wearer is warm and returning it when the wearer is cooler, provide a whole new spectrum of design applications.

Similarly, fabrics containing fragrances (or absorbing odours) and fabrics that contain medications will have dramatic possibilities in fashion and medical ranges of products.

Incorporating metals into the weave of fabrics can eliminate static and resist microbial growth - properties useful in textiles designed for laboratory or medical use, and properties that are used by fashion designers to extend the appearance and characteristics of their creations.

Optical fibre textiles and phosphorescent yarns have obvious creative as well as emergency-service potential and the many colour photographs within the book chronicle developments so far.

The second part of the book - Applications - is sub-divided into sections on fashion, design, architecture and art and extends the appeal of the book to anyone interested in those creative fields.

Fashion students, textiles students and product designers should all find this book stimulating and absorbing with students of engineering additionally being included with the examples of air-supported structures and covering fabrics.

Smart materials are a syllabus requirement and the book provides a superb source of reference for the potential of this technology to influence the rapidly expanding field of fashion clothing.

Bill Richmond is AST design and technology at Winton School, Bournemouth.

* His website, Design Technology on the Web, is at

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