A collection of thought-provoking interviews with cutting-edge designers who transform ordinary wearables into extraordinary sites of personal expression, public engagement, and radical political action.
Is the revolution hanging in your closet? Wearable Utopias explores the promise of wearables for reimagining social and political problems of today into diverse and inclusive worlds for tomorrow. Kat Jungnickel, Ellen Fowles, and Katja May entangle science and technology, gender, and cultural studies with contemporary issues to highlight the role wearables can play in forging alternate paths through conventional landscapes. Featuring 24 interviews with new and established international designers, the collection covers everything from coats designed to protect digital privacy to high-performing jeans that combat air pollution to hi-vis cyclewear that responds to urban harassment.
The interviews in Wearable Utopias are organized into six key themes addressing pressing civic issues: expanding (wearables that push physical, social, and political boundaries); moving (wearables that enable a wide range of sport and activities); concealing (wearables that defend privacy or keep secrets); connecting (wearables that link individuals to large scale issues); leaking (wearables that challenge the idea that urinating and menstruating is problematic or taboo); and working (wearables that address inequalities in the workplace). Wearable Utopias offers insight and inspiration for students, researchers, designers, and anyone making things to wear who are frustrated with daily inequities and normative limitations and want to do things differently.
Kat Jungnickel is a Reader in Sociology and PI on the European Research Council–funded project Politics of Patents (POP): Reimagining Citizenship via Clothing Inventions 1820-2020 at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of Bikes and Bloomers, editor of Transmissions (MIT Press), and coauthor of Creative Practice Ethnographies.
Ellen Fowles is an adaptivewear designer and fashion professor at Savannah College of Art & Design. She has been involved in research projects with Microsoft and the European Space Agency. She was a Research Assistant on POP.
Katja May is an independent researcher, quilter, and feminist activist. She has facilitated multiple craftivism events and is the author of Needlework, Affect and Social Transformation. She was a Postdoctoral Researcher on POP.
The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding and support from MIT Press Direct to Open