The University of Southampton

Light-emitting fabrics pave the way for future fashions

Published: 10 July 2017
PhD student Jingqi Liu models a light-emitting T-shirt

The University of Southampton is shining a light on future fashions thanks to an innovative collaboration between electronics experts and art school students.

Working with academics from the University’s Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) department, fashion students at Winchester School of Art (WSA) created three light-emitting ‘smart’ textiles – a knitted dress, a printed T-shirt and a woven fabric swatch.

The prototype pieces combined traditional fabrics with electronic elements and were created as part of a public engagement project, with the students using feedback from events such as Southampton Science and Engineering Festival to refine their creations.

Fashion students Elizabeth Brady and Rebecca Moore worked with Dr Yang Wei and Dr Kai Yang, senior research fellows within ECS’s Electronics and Electrical Engineering research group, to create the pieces. The results went on show to staff, students and the public at the WSA degree show recently, and will go on display again at University open days this autumn.

Dr Wei said: “This was a great way of combining expertise from two very different disciplines. The items we created were just prototypes, but this was a very useful exercise for the students, as light-emitting textiles are likely to become an increasingly important element in clothes design in the future.

“There are many other potential applications too, including furnishing, automotive, safety, military and medical.”

The light-emitting knitted dress in action Credit: University of Southampton

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