Made in Code: Reimagining the Experience of Fashion
A fashion case study at the intersection of technology, art, and design
Made in Code: Reimagining the Experience of Fashion had been two years in the making as part of an ongoing research project led by Jane Harris, funded by the University of the Arts London (UAL), in partnership with Happy Finish and with the support of technology partners including Numerion, Move.ai and Holition.
Also involved were Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), renowned fashion designer Maria Grachvogel, The Business of Fashion, Textiles & Technology Partnership, Creative Clusters, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Industrial Strategy.
A first of its kind, the unique experience and installation was created using cutting edge technology to deliver high-quality and physically accurate 3D simulations to the public, featuring virtual fabric simulations of fashion designer Maria Grachvogel’s designs.
The interactive installation was hosted at the V&A with members of the public able to book tickets to take part. On starting the experience participants selected from one of five garments, their motion was then tracked using suit-less motion capture, run through a fabric simulation, then rendered to appear on a digital avatar featuring clothing designed by Maria. Participants were displayed in rotation on a giant 4k screen in the V&A, becoming part of the installation. They were also sent a version as a digital takeaway.
The Happy Finish team managed the entire experience, conceptualising the user journey, and providing art direction, technical workflow and project delivery. Much of the project required finding ways to enable the various separate systems to work together, building a solution that merged a suite of advanced tools and techniques including motion capture, fabric simulation, playout and real time rendering engines to create a user friendly, immersive, inclusive and interactive experience.
The experience was a ground-breaking exploration of the intersection between fashion, technology, art, and design, the results of which are of interest to researchers, fashion industry professionals, fashion brands and the public alike.
Made in Code: Reimagining the Experience of Fashion aimed to create an accurate, engaging, and tech-led installation which required direct involvement from the public. Our Happy Finish team project managed the experience, collaborating with various partners, where needed, to showcase various technological advancements using design, movement and fashion while creating an immersive large-scale art piece.
The project was to be inclusive by design, making attributes like gender, weight, race, height, and age, inconsequential. It also needed to cater to people with disabilities, specifically those in wheelchairs, to celebrate differences while highlighting shared enjoyment of expression through fashion.
The project’s core aim was to unite the art and design craft of fabric with new technologies, a nod to the original use of the V&A – a place where industry and art comes together. It showcases the potential of digital media in fashion, performance, film, games, archives and cultural contexts.
Utilising suit-less motion capture, fabric simulation and environment rendering engines, our team developed and consolidated a unique pipeline that allowed participants to capture their movement and test the limits and aesthetics of a garment with high fidelity.
As visitors entered the V&A experience space, they were greeted with a tablet display on which they registered and generated a unique code to begin the experience. They then could choose one of five garments, all designed by Maria Grachvogel, in which they wanted to see their movement.
Motion capture cameras tracked individual’s movements, relaying them as an avatar draped in virtual fabric on two screens to showcase the full range of fluidity within the fabric. Every participant’s unique gait had a background of a natural looking environment to make the fabric the hero of the experience.
To create the setting, the team utilised a key light which was directional and positioned high and to the left, between the viewer and the subject. They also used a fill light to give balance and illuminate the material from the right of the subject and a dome/HDR light for ambient lighting. The camera motion tracked each individual as the user moved around a designated space as well as keeping them static to the centre of the screen. For the end visuals, the team used two screens. Both displayed a different single avatar subject displaying the joy of the combined motion and the variation of motion captured.
A tablet allowed the user to pull up their render as shown on both screens by entering their own 4-digit code which was generated at the start of the experience. After playing once, it returned to standard playback.
Made in Code: Reimagining the Experience of Fashion was an overwhelming success, and the installation was highly engaging and technically groundbreaking. The project received significant interest from the public, industry professionals, and researchers. It also achieved its objective of being inclusive by design.
The amalgamation of fabric, art and design with cutting-edge technology resulted in a visually delightful experience expressed through fashion.