Fashion & Technology: Becca McCharen

“We are expanding the idea that garments should adapt, respond and aid you in achieving max performance.” – Becca McCharen

Interview conducted and penned by CFDA

Becca McCharen, the designer behind Chromat, makes us believe that with technology, anything is possible. It’s this sentiment that has spawned a legion of cool customers including Beyoncé and Madonna, who perpetuate this can-do attitude while feeling bold and brawny in Chromat’s signature tech-infused sportswear designs.

CFDA.com: When did you first become interested in technology?

B.M.: “I was first exposed to 3D printing, robotics and responsive design when I was an architecture student at the University of Virginia. I’ve been dreaming of merging these disciplines to design garments as tools for the body ever since.”

Chromat “Currie” Bra and trouser

CFDA.com: How does technology play a role in how you approach design?

B.M.: “I love utilizing technology as a means to communicate, connect, find inspiration and push fashion into new conceptual realms.

Using technology as a tool to advance our conceptual vision at Chromat comes naturally. We are lucky to be able to collaborate with inspiring creatives in many diverse fields- electrical engineers, body scanners, coders, chemical scientists, virtual reality designers, programmers, DJ’s, 3D printers, latex designers, mechanical engineers. Utilizing the skill sets of all these different fields allows us to expand what is possible in both fashion and in technology.”

CFDA.com: Why was it important to you to integrate technology into the brand?

B.M.: “There are so many ways technology is creating new opportunities in fashion design. We have utilized body scanning to aid in custom measurements and fit as well as encouraging inclusive, diverse brand messaging through social media.

I am excited about the future of 3D printing as a way for fully customizable garments to be accessible to large groups of customers who have traditionally had a hard time finding clothes that fit. We are primarily a swimwear and athletic wear design studio, so fit is an obsession. It is fit that is the reason why someone buys your swimsuit or doesn’t. And no two bodies are the same. We are looking to technology like body-scanning and 3D printing to help us unlock ways in which custom fitting can be available to more people- not just on the haute couture level.

We have also utilized virtual reality and body-scanning to share our runway shows with a wider audience.”

CFDA.com: What is your hope for the future of fashion and technology and how will your brand play a role in achieving it?

B.M.: “In architecture, buildings open and close, heat and cool and respond to the users. I bring an architects set of expectations to fashion, in that I believe garments should adapt and respond to the wearer and their environment.

I see garments as tools for the body. We recently collaborated with Intel on several garments that integrated the Intel Curie, stretchable sensors, shape memory alloy, electroluminescence and 3D printed elements- the Adrenaline Dress, Lumina Dress and Aeros Sports Bra.

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The Adrenaline Dress reacts to the wearer’s emotional state, when triggered it expands to an over-sized imposing silhouette

The Adrenaline Dress was inspired by animals in fight-or-flight mode. When the dress notices that the wearer is experiencing signs of adrenaline- rapid breathing, heart rate increasing and changes in skin salinity- it expands the garment  to create an oversized, imposing silhouette.

The Aeros Sports Bra also notices changes in skin salinity and body temperature and opens carefully positioned vents to allow the wearer to cool their temperature and not be slowed down by overheating. And the Lumina Dress was inspired by underwater bioluminescence. We developed a wireless glove that allows the wearer to activate a glowing property on the dress.

In these prototypes, we are expanding the idea that garments should adapt, respond and aid you in achieving max performance.”

CFDA.com: What is one app you both are obsessed with right now that may surprise people?

B.M.: “I love Snapchat! It’s one place where I feel like I can be my complete weirdo creative self and not worry about perfect lighting and high quality images. It’s raw and unfiltered! (Follow us! @chromat_party).”