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Techwear is an emerging fashion style that is best characterized by accommodation for utility. That is; Techwear is clothing designed to be fashionable but also to serve a purpose. What purpose is that you ask? That’s not such an easy question to answer.
Techwear fashion includes advanced materials and design features for utility
Techwear outfits have strong roots in outdoor and extreme weather gear
Modern style influences include cyberpunk and techno-orientalism influences
Lots of pockets, straps, zippers, and places to store smart devices
Techwear clothing has advanced materials like Gore-Tex and thermal linings
Hard-to-define style made unique by many brands around the world
A Brief History
Techwear is tough to define. On the surface, it seems little more than functional clothing with advanced consideration for modern lifestyles—smartphones, laptops, wifi, etc. It’s a bit more complex and can trace its roots into several cultural phenomena as well. Here are three of the firmest bases on which the Techwear style can trace its roots.
Techwear, short for technical wear, isn’t anything new. The characteristic styles of Techwear have been around for years—though they’ve not been advertised as such. Mosty, Techwear can trace its functional heritage back to outdoor brands such as Patagonia, The North Face, and other materials companies such as Gore-Tex.
This is a literary genre partially characterized by the use of advanced technology in ordinary circumstances. For example, a jacket, worn by anyone, made from a material that produces electricity to charge smart devices as opposed to an invisibility cloak worn only by advanced soldiers or the super-rich.
A view of the future, as applied from popular media, as being characterized by Oriental-inspired dystopian constructs. For example, high-density urban centers littered with bright advertisement displays. Popular titles include Blade Runner, The Diamond Age, and The Fifth Element.
Techwear is tough to define. Its origins can be traced to outdoor brands—clothing designed to protect the wearer—but the modern expression is more. The Techwear style is partially characterized by its protective elements but also by look and function. These three attributes can be used to better define Techwear:
Techwear is largely characterized by the use of advanced materials that offer some form of environmental protection to its wearer. Wind protection, UV protection, Cold protection—even abrasion protection—are among the protective qualities of textiles found among Techwear brands.
Most clothing is designed with two things in mind: how it looks and how it feels. Techwear adds a third consideration: how it performs. Techwear clothing breaks the mold of conventional patterns and great consideration to things like range of motion, breathability, odor elimination, and even storage.
Modern life is full of cords, chargers, smart devices, and the need for electricity. Techwear addresses this with headphone storage, smartphone sleeves, EMF shielding, and even electricity-generating textiles in some cases. Techwear doesn’t scoff at one’s reliance on technology—it embraces and supports it.
Examples & Styles
With a brief history in mind, as well as the above attributes, the best way to continue defining Techwear is by examples. Keep in mind, Techwear can be used to define a jacket, a shirt and pants combo, or just a pair of shoes. An entire Techwear outfit is a rare spot.
Jackets are the most characteristic members of the Techwear style. They have the largest stage for utility and have seen some truly creative expressions by the larger Techwear brands. Typical features of Techwear jackets include:
Copious Amounts of Pockets
Re-Enforced Zippers, Straps, and Cords
Hooks & Breakaway Cords
Hoods + Sleeve Extensions
Inner/Outer Shell Design
Protective Lining such as Gore-Tex
Shoes are one of the areas in which Techwear is still omissive. Characteristic shoes include those from certain outdoor brands, overly-molded athletic brands, and a handful of kitsch Techwear brands like Stone Island. Generally, Techwear shoes have the following attributes:
Gore-Tex Lining or Other Insulation
Rugged or Exaggerated Tread
Unique Lacing Arrangement
Pants are another item that Techwear finds easily expressable. Here you’ll see extra pockets, zippers, clips, stretchable elements, and built-in elements such as clipping belts and/or adjustment straps. There is no single style that defines Techwear pants but black and full of pockets get pretty close. Here’s what you can expect from most Techwear pants:
Lots of Pockets
Re-Enforced Stress Points
Built-in elements like Belt Clips
Smart Device Pockets
Source: The North Face
Similar to jackets, pullovers are one step closer to shirts. Techwear pullovers are characterized by more resistant materials, extra form-fitting design consideration, and strong accommodation for active lifestyles. These lightweight jacket alternatives are also likely to see more pockets than typical brands—gotta tote that smartphone somewhere, right? Here are some common attributes of a Techwear pullover:
Abrasive, Water, Wind-Resistant Materials
Thumbholes and/or other Fastening Considerations
Zippers & Draw Strings
Source: 511 Tactical
Techwear shirts feature re-enforced seams, stitchless design, storage pockets, and even kinetic harnessing in some exotic designs. For the most part, Techwear shirts fall somewhere between performance sportswear and tactical gear one might see among active service members. Common attributes of Techwear shirts include:
Velcro and/or Zipper Pockets
Smart Device Pockets
Non-Standard Seam Layouts
Extended Range of Motion Accommodations
Techwear is an emerging urban style trend with influences coming from all over the board. With roots traceable to cyberpunk Sci/Fi and early 1900s mountaineering—there’s no wonder even fashion experts have a hard time defining Techwear. The bottom line is that Techwear is any clothing that includes advanced consideration for performance and is still suitable for daily wear.