It’s 3am and you're awakened by glowing lights from outside your bedroom window. There’s a man wandering around with flashing lights strapped to his body. Do you call the police? No need – it's just Jim Fox trying out his latest cybercreation.
Jim Fox, 44, designer of sexy cyberbras and a whole lot more, is one of the few American designers truly fusing technology with fashion. Combining a melange of wire, computer chips and fabric into wearable products, Fox is seen as one of the innovators in the growing field that goes under the name of cyberfashion. He sells his wares by word of mouth and through his website.
|Promo pic for the Cyberbra|
"The trouble with what I do is that the wires are always breaking," says Fox, who has spent the last eight years developing his fashion line. His creations have ranged from a sexy cyberbra lined with blinking diodes to a cyberdress that can be customized by allowing wearers to choose from a variety of stars, flames and geometric patterns all easily downloadable from a PC. His FireFly electronic light ropes are a best seller - ropes with LED lights on the end which make light patterns when the rope is shaken or twirled.
Sound like the future? Cyberfashion has been around for as long as the first computer chip. Often seen as an underground phenomenon,
cyberfashion is as far away from Prada as you can get. Usually associated with cyberpunks, cybergeeks and mad scientists who have the know-how to put it all together, cyberfashion started to bloom in the 90s as club culture and computers steadily gained popularity.
The latest Burning Man Festival, held in the Nevada desert in 1999, saw thousands of cyberfashion designers showing off their designs on improvised catwalks and parades. A mile of LyTec – an electroluminescent wire that glows very similar to neon light – was bought by a group of artists to create fashion pieces just for a festival described as ‘Mad Max meets Disneyland meets 2001 meets Woodstock’.
Fox has tried all sorts of unorthodox means of getting his creations better known, including contacting Al Gore, Democratic candidate for US President. “His team seemed pretty enthusiastic about my clothes,” says
Fox. “He may not be the ideal spokesman for cyberfashion but if he wears some of the samples I've sent him, it will mean more publicity for Cyberthings.” Let’s hope he didn’t send Gore a cyberbra.
|A FireFly in action|
Fox’s latest creation is a capsule collection based on flexfabric, a flexible fabric measuring one-thousandeth of an inch that allows wires and lights to be easily sewn together through micropores. At the same time, it’s extremely strong and washable. He will show off these designs in two fashion shows scheduled for November 2000 in San Francisco and New York.
His other project is a series of ‘campaign buttons’ that each contain 30-40 LED lights, which users plug into a computer. The user can then customize an animated design on the button, every button being registered and having its own web page so that a community of ‘campaign button’ wearers can interact with each other.
Fox has struggled in getting his designs produced in large quantities and sometimes has to take on the odd bit of computer programming to scrape by. Acting as a one-man shop, almost everything is handmade and the materials he uses are expensive. When it comes to securing investors, Fox has had problems: he says they're too wrapped up in the internet and can't see the potential in cyberfashion. Fox has found there to be a lack of money and a lot of mistrust within the fashion industry.
"There's a light side and dark side to America," says Fox. "Lights are freaking out people and they want to put an end to what I do."
Jim Fox’s website is www.cyberthings.com