FashionTech — Politics, stigma, and a new layer of interpersonal interaction.

For the sake of convenience, fashion using wearable technology to communicate will be referred to as FashionTech.

Fashion that expresses your true feelings and thoughts. Without any prompting from you, your emotions are clearly visible for all to see, clear and undeniable. The convenience and honesty of this technology can easily be praised, and it is not hard to see why. Yet, the effects of mainstream FashionTech would extend far beyond an unprecedented influx of transparency. This post only begins to imagine them, and will be followed by other posts discussing various aspects.

We shall begin with a small-scale example: Politics. A long-lasting criticism of politicians is that they are dishonest. Fashion that expresses your true feelings and thoughts regardless of your desire for subtlety or deceit can be seen as an easy counter to that problem.

If popular demand is high enough, it may be mandatory, or at least highly expected, of politicians to wear such fashion. After all, if they do not wear such fashion, they will be cast into suspicion.

“Why aren’t they wearing any FashionTech? They wouldn’t have to worry about anything if they were honest. They must be hiding something. They can’t be trusted.”

It must be noted that, depending on how popular and normalized the technology becomes, such distrust could extend to all non-wearers of FashionTech, cultivating a stigma against those without it, making people distrust and view them with suspicion. This would unfortunately perpetuate worsening of the stigma: More and more of those without FashionTech would be socially pressured into wearing it, and the fewer the number of non-wearers there are, the stranger and more foreign they would appear.

So, a politician speaks on television. Afterwards, his words and general mannerisms are analyzed. But what else is analyzed? Yes, you are correct. This would extend to a larger scale, to culture as a whole. When people are interacting with each other, there would be a whole new thing to analyze, to think about and consider. What does the FashionTech say? What does any contrast between the Tech and the person’s behavior mean? What does it mean if they are clearly feeling one way even though they act as if they are feeling another? Does the FashionTech garner more attention and analysis than the behavior of the person wearing it?

Complete expression of our inner feelings is not always wanted or appropriate, however. What if there was a way to bypass this quagmire of total honesty? This train of thought will embark at a different time.

Citations: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/25/tech/innovation/bionic-fashion-wearable-tech-2015/

Pictured works are Mood Sweater by Sensoree and Bubelle by Philip’s Design.