7 Women Designers and Their Incredible Wearable Tech

Soon, we'll all be wearing high-tech outfits, be it for protecting ourselves against pollution or reacting to others around us—these seven creative technologists are leading the way.

In a feat of engineering and creativity, these seven women are developing clothing that might be described as "functional couture." Each garment provides either a practical or social need, and, as a piece of art, serves as a piece of cultural or political commentary. As the Earth faces more drastic environmental challenges, humans may come to depend on their clothes for protection and health. So, too, can clothing aid in unsavory social circumstances, for example during a random act of street harassment on a morning commute, by deflecting unwanted attention or alerting the authorities. Our tech future just might be in what we wear.

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The Designer: Madison Maxey; New York

The Wearable Gadget: Kelvin jacket

What It Does: Never get the shivers again! Maxey's Kelvin jacket uses soft, flexible circuits and buttons to help wearers regulate their body temperature during cold days. Bonus: Maxey's team also developed a way to wash the jacket, so you don't have to worry about it malfunctioning after a cleaning!

For more at madisonmaxey.com.

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The Designer: Yuchen Zhang; China-born, New York-based

The Wearable Gadget: Bury coat

What It Does: Originally from China, where pollution is a daily concern, New York-based designer Zhang created the Bury jacket to help wearers keep gas masks in place should the air become unbreathable. The coat also helps wearers stand out in smog due to the reflective materials incorporated into the design. A bit dystopian, but a very real response to climate change.

For more at yuchenzhang.com.

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The Designer: Simone Schramm; Potsdam, Germany

The Wearable Gadget: Muscle shirt

What It Does: Get a boost during your workout with the aid of Simone Schramm's muscle shirt, which expands and contracts depending on your heart rate. The shirt visually responds to your activity level via a sensor, and could help wearers maintain their desired beats per minute during exercise.

For more at smones.de.

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The Designer: Behnaz Farahi; Iran-born, California-based

The Wearable Gadget: Caress of the Gaze vest

What It Does: Though a gorgeous piece of couture in its own right, Farahi's Caress of the Gaze vest also serves a social purpose. Under spines created by 3-D printers are hidden sensors that can detect when the wearer is being observed and follow that person's gaze. Shape memory alloys—wires that can bend and change form—then move based on the wearer's skin and fluctuations in their body temperature and heart rate.

For more at behnazfarahi.com.

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The Designer: Birce Ӧzkan and Betty Quinn; New York

The Wearable Gadget: Glacial headpiece

What It Does: Ӧzkan and Quinn's newest design, Glacial, is an illuminated headpiece with a crystalline structure resembling icebergs. Glacial is a gorgeous piece of commentary on the trajectory of global warming. The shimmering LED lights of the headpiece gradually diminish over time—a reference to our receding glaciers—until only an empty husk remains.

For more at birceozkan.com.

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The Designer: Aisen Caro Cachin; U.S.-born, Japan-based

The Wearable Gadget: Iruka Tract glove

What It Does: The Iruka Tract glove can aid both those caught in a flood and first responders trying to assess flood damage. The glove uses sonar sensors to locate objects up to two feet away underneath the water, and small jets of water let wearers "feel" what's in front of them through pressure changes to the wearer's fingertips.

For more at aisencaro.com.

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