Between 2014 and 2016, five ESA astronauts from the UK, France, Italy, Denmark and Germany are visiting the International Space Station. To mark the missions, European fashion schools from the astronauts’ home countries are designing and developing clothes that are both desirable and practical, while incorporating high-tech innovations.
The participating schools are Fashion Design Akademiet in Denmark, the Politecnico di Milan in Italy, Ravensbourne, UK, and ESMOD in France and Germany.
Each is assigned a theme for its clothing, ranging from technology, environment and innovation to health and nutrition, and has to consider the applications of their designs in daily life.
ESA provides space-certified textiles for the students to use in the project, which is supported by the companies Bionic Yarn and Sympatex. In addition, national corporate sponsors offer technical advice.
From embedded sensors to heating units and super-absorbent textiles, the challenge is to predict the future of fashion in designs that are desirable and practical, while showcasing their national cultures.
The space and fashion industries often influence each other. ESA innovations were recently used in thermal underwear for the manufacturer Björn Borg. A motorcycle-clothing manufacturer, Dainese, tailormade ESA’s Skinsuit to alleviate astronaut back problems.
This is not a competition but a celebration of the inspirational face of space exploration. Expert judges will select 15 pieces from each school to be developed for the climax of the project: a fashion show at the London museum next May, during the Couture in Orbit fashion LATES event.
Designs can be luxurious, extravagant, simple or basic so long as they have the right stuff to be used in the next generation of apparel.
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For more information about dates, and to follow the schools’ design process, visit the website couture-in-orbit.tumblr.com and follow us on Twitter via #coutureinorbit.