Profiles in Regeneration: Izzy, 21, Belgium
A smart garment has dynamic functionality and attends to the wearer’s needs; it can be activated only when needed and is designed to be imperceptible otherwise.
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 21, Izzy Du is one of those people. Du, a fashion design student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, wants to make smart garments made from a combination of solar-enabled fibers and lotus-effect technology.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Izzy Du: Happy.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
ID: The Emperor Tamarin.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
ID: Electrogoniometry and augmenting body power.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
ID: This question is impossible. I don’t believe I have just one.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
ID: My idea for wearable energy came two years ago during the process of creating my first collection. Sometime in the final months before completion, I looked around my studio and at my receipts, and I physically saw just how much waste the fashion industry leaves behind in the name of beauty and creativity. The utility of a garment is something I focus and push to expand on. For most of the year in the majority of the places I have lived in, it’s very cold and windy—therefore, it’s a must to wear a lot of layers which is often bulky, uncomfortable, and inconvenient, especially when you want to look good going out. I asked myself, why wear all those layers when one jacket or knit top could suffice? This isn’t only ideal but possible—a garment that will truly keep you warm while looking fabulous. Once charged you can turn it on and stay heated. And if you don’t need the insulation, you can use the power to charge your phone without needing to bring a portable battery pack.
[I want to eliminate] clothing’s built-in obsolescence to increase the value and worth of a garment. Consumers are encouraged to buy carelessly and constantly… This notion that everything is supposed to be new has caused the value of clothing to go down. Wearable energy and smart garments can be a catalyst in slowing down this toxic cycle and increasing the lifespan of a garment.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
ID: Ideally, in two years’ time, this project will have come to fruition and been made accessible on a global scale. Technology for the wearable environment has been a personal research subject of mine for a while now and I’ve discovered that the marriage of clothing and electronic technology involves blending at least four distinct disciplines: textiles, clothing design, electronics, and information systems. I am currently in contact with a few leading researchers in micro-scale solar cells and electronic textiles. Traditional clothing typically has a predefined function, which is performed continuously whether it is needed or not. A smart garment has dynamic functionality and attends to the wearer’s needs; it can be activated only when needed and is designed to be imperceptible otherwise. I am trying to find solutions to thermal balance and moisture management that can be employed to increase comfort.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
ID: The environmental disasters we’ve witnessed so far in 2020 alone are beyond words. Tragedies such as the oil spill off of the Mauritian coast, the floods in Southwest China, and the wildfires in Australia and the U.S. are truly heartbreaking. A project worthy of such funding would be the creation of an organization similar to the UNEP with an active monetary reserve for wildlife and environmental emergencies that operates on both national and international levels.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
ID: The Canadian public and private education systems are among the best in the world. Speaking strictly from personal experience, the private education system is absolutely great but it’s a collective delusion; it perpetuates a very sheltered environment, which means kids grow up filled with promise and potential but leave with a false sense of security that results in wistful disillusionment. Once out on their own, they are left to discover that even if you work hard, you don’t always get what you want or think you deserve. This, in my opinion, is the sweetest and the most vicious thing about it.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
ID: We focus too much on puddles and forget about the dryland separating them. We speak of wonderful ideas that no one can live up to. Your future starts now. I hope your generation is wild and wise.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
ID: The questions “What do we want?” and “What will we become?”
RF: Regeneration is…
ID: Re-evolution. Regeneration is a story of abundance and renewal, human design and creativity, to fashion strategies of change with the future in mind. To not only fulfill our urgent and dire need for restoration through innovation, but to surpass that exponentially; to dismantle the intergenerational remote tyranny imposed on us and the future generations of all organisms on earth.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist, Izzy Du, click here.