Five Tips For Designing Futuristic Fashions

2015 Artwork Futuristic Fashions article sketch

..First of all, sorry about the extremely late post – there was something of a screw-up with the scheduling and I apologise for this. I’ll post today’s art post in a few seconds. Anyway, on with the article..

Well, if you’re making sci-fi comics or sci-fi art, then one of the things you need to think about is how people are going to dress in the future.

After all, the clothes we wear these days look very different to what everyone was wearing 100 years ago, let alone 300-500 years ago. So, what’s to say that it won’t change again over the next five hundred years or more.

If you’re setting your comic or artwork in the near future, or if you’re making it in the style of older sci-fi (eg: 1990s sci-fi, 1980s sci-fi etc…) – then you don’t really need to change that much. In fact, you can pretty much get away with using either modern-day fashions or even vintage-style fashions. Kind of like this:

"Data Tower" By C. A. Brown

“Data Tower” By C. A. Brown

But, if you’re setting your sci-fi comic or artwork in the distant future or you’re trying to make it look “realistic”, then here are a few tips that might come in handy when creating futuristic fashions:

1) Simplicity: Generally speaking, everyday fashions (in Europe and America at least) become simpler and more practical over time. Although formal fashion is somewhat frozen in time, even these fashions are travelling towards simplicity, albeit at a glacial pace.

These days, typical informal clothing usually consists of a T-shirt/ short-sleeved top/ hoodie, trainers and a pair of jeans (or tracksuit trousers). Whereas, say, sixty years ago people would still be wearing long-sleeved shirts, hats, dresses, heeled shoes etc… even on weekends.

So, how does this affect future fashions? Well, if this trend continues, then futuristic fashions will possibly remain fairly similar to what they are now. I mean, typical informal clothing really hasn’t changed that much in the past 20-30 years. Yes, there may be some variations in it over time, but the basic style of clothing probably won’t change that much.

Of course, it’s possible that this trend might be cyclical and – like in several periods of history – everyday fashion might become more ostentatious and formal again. You can pretty much go either way with this in your artwork or comic, but my guess is that everyday fashion in the future will be more on the practical and informal side of things.

2) Self-expression: Throughout history, fashion has been a lot more uniform than it is these days. Yes, we might mostly be wearing similar informal fashions – but there’s a lot more variety avialable to us now than there has been in any other period of history. I mean, if you can think of something, there’s probably already an item of clothing with this design printed onto it.

But, if you go back in time – there were far fewer clothing colours and fabric patterns for people to choose from. So, clothing looked a lot more homogenous than it does these days. If you wanted to wear something that made you stand out from the crowd, you either had to make it yourself or hire someone to make it for you. If you wanted to express yourself through fashion, then you had a much more limited palette to choose from.

So, if you’re designing futuristic fashion, then you need to take this trend into account. Even though most people will probably still be wearing the same types of clothing, there will probably be a huge amount of variety within these types of clothing.

3) Technology: Technology affects fashions in all sorts of ways. I mean, before the mid-19th century – purple clothing was pretty much reserved for royalty, since no-one had been able to invent a cheap purple dye that could be used in ordinary clothing. Likewise, if you wanted to add lettering to clothing in the past -you’d probably have to sew or appliqué it onto the clothes, because inks that worked well on fabrics hadn’t been invented.

The next innovation in terms of clothing will probably be either nanotechnology (eg: making hydrophobic/antibacterial fabrics that require little to no washing) or wearable technology. Of course, this will have to be perfected to the point where it can be easily mass-produced cheaply (more on that subject later) before it enters everyday fashion, but it probably will happen at some point in the future.

So, things like T-shirts with moving patterns and glasses with augmented-reality displays (like the Google Glass) will probably end up being a part of fashion in the future. As for what comes after this, I really don’t know – but it’ll probably be something we currently consider to be impossible.

Likewise, the way that clothes are produced will probably change too. The current exploitative situation where clothes are often mass-produced in sweatshops in poorer countries will probably change in the future. This will either be because those countries will have become prosperous and democratic enough to insist on fairer working conditions, or it will be because of growing controversy around the issue or – most likely – it’ll be because we’ll have found a way to create clothing even more cheaply using robots.

4) Subcultures: Ever since the 1950s or 60s at least, people have been using fashions to show that they belong to a particular subculture or fandom (hell, my own fashion style is probably mostly something between metal, punk and goth fashion).

Using clothing to signify belonging obviously goes back a lot longer than just the past sixty years, but it’s certainly a lot more prominent and widespread than it was before then.

Of course, subcultures grow and change over time. So, if you’re making something that is set in the distant future, then you’re going to have to come up with new subculture-based fashions that don’t exist today. These can, of course, be based on current or older subcultures or they will be totally new. But, subcultural fashion will probably be a much larger thing in the future than it already is now.

5) Nostalgia: Finally, never underestimate the nostalgia factor. There seems to be a 20-30 year nostalgia cycle in modern fashion, so it could be an idea to show some of the characters in your comic wearing fashions that were inspired by other futuristic fashions from a couple of decades earlier.

In other words, you’ll also have to invent a second set of futuristic fashions that look slightly older than the ones that you’re planning to use in your comic.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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