Techwear Savvy for the Beginner
First things first. What exactly is techwear? It is more than a fashion statement from a 1980s idea of futuristic style. The ergonomic design evident in many of the top brands places an emphasis on function without forgoing form. The name “techwear” might call to mind Star Trek or The Matrix, but the real-world clothing technology is often much more subtle than Hollywood-style wardrobes, with an emphasis on material innovation geared towards durability and utility. From high performing outdoor brands to top notch urban wear companies, newbies can turn to a few brands to make an entry into this trendy fashion world with the comfort of knowing they won’t go wrong in the choices they make.
One need to look no further than cult favorite, Acronym, to discover who set the stage for the modern-day technologically advanced fashion design. Its founder, Errolson Hugh, has arguably had more influence on the trend than any other single individual or company. Acronym takes ergonomic design seriously. However, the brand’s high-tech approach does not impede the creative flare in product development that has become symbolic for techwear style.
Arc’teryx is a Canadian brand with origins in the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia. The company’s very own backyard begs for outdoor gear that can withstand the elements. Engineering clothing with an ergonomic design that can bend with the body, protect the wearer from the weather and withstand rugged conditions is at the heart of Arc’teryx’s inventive approach. The company branched off in 2009 to form Veilance, where Errolson Hugh played a role as an advisor as the label got its start. The Veilance brand takes its parent company’s influence into urban wear fashion design. Arc’teryx is also notable in its commitment towards increasing its environmental sustainability through both manufacturing practices and material sources.
The North Face
As a well-known and reliable brand of sportwear, the North Face has been influencing outdoor clothing trends for many years. It became one of the noteworthy adventure gear companies to branch into urban style designs with the same high degree of utility as their outdoor clothing, and then the company took it one step further. The North Face’s Black Series brings the ultimate in techwear fabrics to their classic styles, marrying the nostalgia of the past with the functionality of the future.
While Snow Peak’s product line bends towards high quality and innovative outdoor gear, it has also started branching out into styles that fit in just as well on any city street. Their selection includes products with an ergonomic design for flexibility and durability. They have even developed a fire-resistant vest in case you find yourself sitting too close the fire.
The swoosh. It is so ubiquitous in the athleticwear industry, the brand name is an entirely unnecessary identifier. It is no surprise, then, that this leader in sports gear is also leading the pack in techwear design for athletic and urban crossover fashion. Nike started exploring high performance designs back in the late 1980s when it launched its ACG line of products. The company’s innovative line resurfaced in 2014, with Errolson Hugh at the helm, bringing his trademark ninja-inspired city style to outdoor clothing with an ergonomic design.
This small Japanese company’s driving philosophy is to merge design, utility and technology to produce functional gear with an urban flare. White Mountaineering has forged a notable collaboration with shoe industry giant Adidas to produce the company’s current line of shoes. Japanese style is evident in several of their designs, but they have also creatively combined materials such as corduroy and fleece to give classic styles a fresh look.
Stone Island has been experimenting with the form and functionality of clothing for several decades now. It has made its mark in developing new fabric dyes but has also been innovative in designing textiles from materials as unlikely as stainless steel. The influence of uniforms and work clothes is unmistakable in their designs. Their Shadow Project line is the outcome of a collaboration between the company and, once again, Errolson Hugh. With this line of products, ergonomic design is front and center, with a heightened focus on technological advancement.
Isaora is a NYC-based company and a relative newcomer to the scene, having been established in 2008. The label’s engineers are dedicated to producing apparel using advanced technologies to create an ergonomic design influenced by outdoor and athletic lifestyles. The company is committed to creating functional pieces with a modern look, but also has a vintage line of clothing that infuses trendy fashions of the past with today’s durability and functionality.
The trend towards cool, modern fashion with a high level of utility is not likely to disappear anytime soon. With more players entering the field and producing clothing with an ergonomic design, you’re likely to see a wider range of techwear styles on your favorite fashion heroes, but the above labels are the go-to brands to get you started on honing your own techwear savvy.