From high-tech to high fashion

Technology from space improves the quality of fabrics

The latest precision-engineered materials can actually be treated as fibre art – and often are, in the form of fashion. But often they are pure function, a convergence of design, science and technology.

Gossamer filaments can heave a satellite into orbit. Metal mesh bangles are used by heavy industry to withstand temperatures of 700 °C. An embroidered patch that mimics old lace is a bio-implantable device for reconstructive shoulder surgery.

Many textiles in common use today were developed to withstand some of the most demanding conditions on Earth or in space. Some materials, such as super-strong carbon fiber, already have turned into sleek sports gear. But others, such as electrospun nanofibers, are in their infancy.

High-tech functionality

ESA is one of the world’s premier users and developer of innovative textiles. And because some are woven into its spacecraft or worn by its astronauts, it is in a unique position to be at the forefront of emerging fashion trends. Fashion conscious consumers will demand high-tech functionality in their clothing and accessories, often for sporting purposes.

New pitstop cooling system of West McLaren Mercedes

The majority of the population wouldn’t automatically associate space with clothing, but many examples already exist. Thanks to ESA’s Technology Transfer Office, McLaren’s Formula 1 team all wear a thermo-regulating garment while servicing the car to protect themselves from fire and heat. It was originally developed for use in the suits of ESA astronaut’s.

Magneto-rheological fluids that compete with air cushioning systems in shoe soles can assist in the prevention of foot injuries of diabetic patients, athletes or joggers. And the ESA-developed Aerogel, the most effective insulating material in the world, is now used to line the jackets of explorers on Antarctic missions after insulating probes sent to Mars.

Space can mean fashion branding possibilities for more regular uses, too. If your company’s products are inching towards lift-off, inquire about testing and marketing with us today.

Last update: 14 October 2005

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