Techwear Clothing and How To Live Out Your Dystopian Cyberpunk Dreams
If you're anything like me, then one of your favorite things is seeing how much tech people can shove into absolutely anything because this leads us to two things: more IoT devices which act as a source of comedy where you laugh at their terrible security practices, and a closer look at our dystopian future where we will buy wiretaps to buy cat food on Amazon (oh wait, we already do that). Thankfully you can't hack clothes as nobody has put the internet inside of them (not giving you any ideas), and all the tech in Techwear is mainly based upon advanced materials and functionality, that is technicality instead of technology. This article should serve as an introduction to the only fashion style where a >$1000 price tag is actually justifiable.
The most important part of Techwear is obviously: the tech. This section will go through the main parts of what makes Techwear so… techy. While there are many innovations currently being made such as Volleback's jacket made out of HECKING GRAPHENE (no seriously look it up, it's amazing), we will mainly be focusing on the more common parts of Techware you will see - waterproof breathable fabrics.
Waterproof breathable fabrics are tasked to: repel and hold its own against moisture, downpour, and allow water vapour and moisture from within to escape, keeping you dry. This is made possible by shells layers which are three in total, but separated into two main parts.
All layers are composed of the outer layer also known as the face fabric, responsible for being presentable and functional from which it inherent from fabric such as polyester, nylon, cotton-twill, etc. With a durable water repellent (DWR) treated to the outer layer to prevent saturation by water. Creating a high surface tension causing water to “bead”, running off preventing clothes from being damp from long periods of downpour.
The inner layer is composed of two parts, the second layer comprises of a laminated membrane or a coating, and the third layer known as the liner. The membrane is tasked to be breathable and waterproof, through its pores that allow water vapor molecules to escape, but small enough to not let liquids from entering. Coating, made from polyurethane, is capable of being lighter than laminate and significantly cheaper to apply. But falls sort in its breathability, however new methods of application such as microporous coatings and monolithic coatings helps improve in this nature. Simply and lastly, the liner a mesh used for protecting the membrane.
Waterproof fabrics resist liquid from passing through. There is no standard for testing waterproofness in fabrics. One method of testing is known as the static column test. Measured in millimeters, is determined by the amount of water it can hold by placing a tube with a 1x1 (inches) dimension over fabric, so if a jacket had the rating of 5,000 mm the tube will be able to hold water up to that height before it begins leak.
Breathability or moisture vapor transmission rate is measured by the rate at which water vapour passes through, in grams of water vapour per square meter of fabric per 24-hour period (g/m2/d), often abbreviated to just "g". Methods for measuring breathability by fabrics also differs from manufacturers and results vary in tests and real world conditions thanks to temperature, humidity and pressure. A method of testing is similar to water, but with vapor and how much it can past through in a square meter from within to outside within 24 hours. So a rating of 5,000 would allow 5,000 grams of water vapor to pass through a period of 24 hours.
In this section we will go through common pieces of Techwear clothing and look at their purpose. Most Techwear brands favour a form of layered clothing as it it allows them to offer "technical" or "functional" clothes which are optimized for the particular demands of a specific layer.
The outermost clothes are called the shell layer. This generally just refers to a jacket, but the term shell is used by companies that specialize in technical clothing as it implies a greater layer of protection from the outside. Such features a shell would come with is water resistant, wind proof, heat retention and more. Shells go into two categories, the hardshell and the softshell.
The hard-shell is the primary layer, often the most expensive piece to the arsenal. The hardshell provides the most function and durability out of an entire fit, allowing other layers mainly for added insulation to go beneath it. When looking to purchase a hardshell, look for an explicit description of the production functionality, although a hardshell will always home waterproof and breathable functionality this is a general rule that goes into all functional pieces you plan on buying.
The softshell, given by its name isn’t as durable as the hard shell, however it does share many qualities. The common tradeoff between the softshell and a hard-shell is ease of use and mobility. Softshells often try to combine partial or full water resistance with partial or full wind breaking ability. In many cases insulation is also combined in an attempt to replace several layers with a single highly flexible one.
If heavy sweating is expected, you should avoid wearing any shell layer garments unless their protective properties are essential. For example, if you're jogging, no traditional shell layer is likely to be able to transfer enough moisture to keep you feeling dry, however a shell would be essential for hiking in the snow.
The mid layer is needed in cold weather to provide additional insulation. The use of multiple thin layers facilitates adjustment of warmth. Fleece is a popular choice for this layer as it serves to be a great material for body regulation, providing the much needed breathability and moisture wicking needed in order to stay comfortable when layering this under ones hardshell. An alternative to fleece is down, which a fine layer of feathers with its natural ability to trap air makes them affordable insulators, and padding that some might come to love. When shopping in for this layer look for hoodies, vests, sweaters, and jackets.
Given by its name, the base layer is the absolute bottom layer in any fit. The purpose of the inner layer is to draw the sweat away from the skin to the next layers. This would include the average: socks, underwear, undershirts, and shirts. In the functional clothing industry, they often carry attributes that levitate around making the wearer more comfortable, such things like this include: breathability, anti-bacterial, deodorizing, heat retention, stretchable etc.
Merino is the common material in this field, merino wool is wicking and a natural temperature regulator, very durable and long lasting, however buying clothes made of merino could be very expensive. Other brands, such as Uniqlo might use a blend of materials to produce layers that aid in function. Companies that practice such things tend to be much cheaper and don't provide the many functions gained by wearing a layer of merino.
This is everyone's favourite part. We will now look at what brands provide Techwear clothes and what style they will fit into. With this guide all you will need to do next is mortgage your house, sell your right kidney, and sacrifice your first born and you will be ready to feed the capitalist machine, further accelerating our descent into a dystopian society. But you'll look cool doing it, so it's all worth. And just because I'm so nice, I'll even give you an idea of how many kidneys you'll have to sell in order to afford each style, although keep in mind that this is a very general idea from my own experience of kidney selling, and that you may find that a 1 kidney style can have items that would need 12 kidneys.
Heavily centered on protecting you from your environment wherever you may be: hiking, camping, snow sports, etc. Outdoors are made reliable, functional, inexpensive because of its abundance, and made stylish for us wear while in our less extreme urban environments. Look towards brand names like Arc’teryx, REI, Patagonia, The North Face, and Columbia for getting outdoor gear.
General Price: 3 Kidneys
Primarily made for sporting gear, athletic clothing is a easy way to obtain base layers, shells, footwear, made with simple functionality when shopping for the basic brands such as Adidas and Nike. Although kind of iffy in the community whether wearing all athletic gear should even be considered Techwear look at more designer gear like Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto's Y-3, and divisions of Nike that produce more technical clothing like Nike Gyakusou and ACG.
General Price: 2 Kidneys
Sporting the latest of fabric technology, brands that serve military contracts have the benefit to use their field tested innovations and integrate them into Techwear. Brands such as Arc'Teryx Leaf and Triple Aught Design have the edge to keep new technologies on the market in a distinct military style.
General Price: 3 Kidneys
Produced for day to day use, causal Techwear blends with the normalcy of our current fashion standards while incorporating features that helps the ease of commute and work in a professional environment. Styled very basic, and often business casual, casual Techwear is great for the grey man that keeps to him/herself, below the radar with great looking and highly functional clothing. Uniqlo and Outlier are the main brands you should look out for. ROSEN is also a pretty new brand that I quite like, although whether you can consider some of their collection as Techwear is debatable.
General Price: 1 Kidney
For the enthusiasts, and those with deep pockets who might want to chase after brands that focus on technicality over design. Tech-Focused brands as the name implies, center on fitting as many functions and features into their pieces in a very minimalist style, such as Stone Island, Arc’teryx Veilance, and Descente Allterrain. Constantly gaining the one up in the by community introducing garments with the latest and greatest in what technology offers.
General Price: 4 Kidneys
Opposing tech-focused brands, these brands are form first and functionality second. Brands such as North Face Purple Label, Y-3, and White Mountaineering choose to incorporate experimental technologies and construction in new and exciting ways and because of this, their function is never fully guaranteed, at least not on the level of other brands.
General Price: 3 Kidneys
Utilitarian or some brands in this category might fall into the communities favorite term "Techninja" which is centered around the futuristic dystopian military outlook. Utilitarian as a whole center themselves around this push for an ever-greater liberation in movements, incorporating various storage options, increasing ease of use, the addition of extra bells and whistles like Acronym’s gravity pocket, and often using the latest materials to come out of the woodworks. In case you haven't figured it out yet: this is the best one.
General Price: 5 Kidneys