Museum at FIT presents theories to that question in their Fashion and Technology exhibit which runs until next week.
The show examines innovations in technology over the years in textile manufacturing, the sewing machine through to the possibilities of digital and 3D printing. It also explores how the internet and social media has changed the way fashion labels market and brand themselves.
The fashion on display represent examples of how designers, independent and established have adapted and used high-tech treatments for fabric into their designs. (The pink dress above is made of three dimensional molded shapes by Pierre Cardin in 1968, the optic patterned jumpsuit on the right is Jean Paul Gaultier's cyber graphic print from 1996).
The exhibit also shows how current culture of the times could influence day to day fashion. The art deco movement in architecture reflected in the new use of geometric designs clothing. The 1960's space race of politics and science manifested itself in astronaut-inspired bodysuits as if civilians were ready to head out to the moon themselves.
If you can't make it to the exhibit (it ends on May 8, 2013) then you should definitely check out the show website. It has a thorough glossary to bone up on all the new garment technology terms. It has a fantastic illustrated timeline of fashion technology and a great reading list to explore. Need more? There is also a page of weblinks that leads you to more sites that cover all the futuristic fashion bytes.
photos by the Museum at FIT