.: The Brief :.
If you're into fashion to any degree, odds are that at one point or another, you've sacrificed function for form, comfort for style, practicality for panache - you get the idea. However, recently the sartorial spotlight has been turned back towards garments that hit the sweet spot that is the intersection of form and function, with military-inspired jackets and other BDU* gear becoming increasingly popular both on and off the runway. Such garments are usually functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing.
Techwear takes the harmonization of these two ideals to the next level, with the phrase itself being an abbreviation of 'technical wear'. As the name suggests, techwear garments are usually constructed using materials that serve specific purposes, whether it be GoreTex, specially constructed nylon, or elastane mesh.
.: The Function :.
The first thing that jumps to my mind when I think about techwear, is an innumerable amount of pockets. This mental association is primarily due to ACRONYM, the Germany-based brand that's been at the forefront of the techwear movement before the phrase was even coined. The brand's numerous jackets, all of which are identified by seemingly random combinations of letters and numbers, feature numerous pockets, both visible and hidden. But that's just the tip of the iceberg - ACRONYM garments are meant to be worn in ways that you've never thought of, as demonstrated in a video featuring their 2014 Spring/Summer Collection. Think of each piece as a Swiss army knife - with an array of dazzling (and sometimes over-the-top, depending on who you ask) features.
ACRONYM is arguably one of the pinnacles of techwear, with a price point to match. Fortunately for us, though, more brands have been incorporating techwear pieces into their offerings, lowering the barriers to entry into the techwear scene. For instance, ACRONYM co-founder Errolson Hugh has been brought on board by both NikeLab ACG and Stone Island Shadow Project. The prices of garments offered by these brands are by no means cheap, but they're a good deal more affordable than ACRONYM.
.: The Form :.
In terms of aesthetic, techwear gives off serious cyberpunk vibes. Scrolling through the #techwear hashtag on Instagram, you'll be met with numerous photos of people looking like futuristic ninjas. This is simultaneously one of the biggest push and pull factors of the entire techwear scene - to some, it's where fashion is headed, and something to aspire towards; to others, it's overly gimmicky, and too performative.
Another common critique is that you can't just buy one techwear piece - ideally, you need at least a few to pair together, to create an aesthetically uniform look. In turn, this means that to even put together one techwear fit requires an investment of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
.: The Verdict :.
It's clear that techwear isn't for everyone, whether it's for budget reasons, or due to subjective sartorial preferences. At the same time, however, techwear probably isn't going anywhere any time soon. With its roots so firmly entrenched in the intersection of science fiction and technological progress, it seems that techwear is likely to become more accessible to the mainstream.
*Battle Dress Uniform
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