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Would You Don These Sci-Fi Skin Suits If They Could Improve Your Health?

An artist imagines a world where clothing goes beyond fashion.

What if you could change your body just as easily as you changed your clothes? The body suits of textile artist Chloe Cooper imagines a future of fashion in which people don’t just buy clothes to improve their status or sense of style, but to improve their health.

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A student in Rhode Island School of Design’s textiles department, Cooper developed her Future Suits as part of her senior year thesis project. There are four concepts in all: a stomach suit, a muscle suit, a lung suit, and a metabolism suit. When worn, each hand-knit suit looks almost like someone yarn bombed a Body Works exhibit.

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“My designs were all prompted by the question: ‘If you could change a part of your body for a functional reason, what would it be and why?” Cooper tells me by email. After watching the TED body talks of Hugh Herr, a designer of bionic limbs, Cooper wondered if the same approach might someday be accomplished with textiles.

Her first design was the stomach suit. Inspired by her sister’s difficulties with gastric reflux, Cooper researched how cows’ stomachs worked, and designed a piece with four external stomachs that could help her sister digest food more efficiently. From there, Cooper created herself a muscle suit, as a reflection on her own lack of physical strength which uses a melted plastic yarn in order to look more corpuscular. She also created a lung suit (perfect for asthmatics), as well as a metabolism suit, for those who want to burn off calories faster.

“The idea is that people would be able to custom order these suits, and they would fuse to their body to enhance its natural abilities,” Cooper explains.

Obviously, Cooper’s Future Suits is less science than science fiction in textile form. Yet the artist feels like it’s only a matter of time before her idea becomes reality, and fashion becomes as wild as her Future Suits.

“As design and science become more connected, I think there will be a lot more advancements tailored towards specific body needs,” she says. “There are already just so many new textiles being created that challenge our perceiption of what clothing is and what can be worn on the body. I think that will only continue.”

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