RAINBOW WINTERS is one of the first successful Fashion Technology brands worldwide. The label's mastermind, Amy Winters, made her mark with UV and Water reactive clothing in 2010, and since then has developed sound reactive LED textiles, and nanotech stretch reactive materials. Below is our exclusive interview with Amy, along with an animated editorial featuring a few of her signature designs.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO BEING A TEXTILE FUTURIST, ADAPTING CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY TO PRESENT DAY FASHION?
I was always interested in the sensory qualities of materials as a child. I would play with soil and would be mesmerised on how it could be manipulated. I would also be interested in odd things like blu-tack and how when stretched could be re-formed. When training as a costume and set designer my speculative design work would be fantastical (the set and costumes) would be morphing into various shapes, colours and different characters. When I left college I was determined to make some of these ideas a reality.
NATURE IS A CONSTANT UNDERLYING PRESENCE IN YOUR WORK. HOW DO YOU SEE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ORGANIC AND NEW MAN-MADE TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION?
I think the fusion between the organic and the artificial is an interesting one. I also think to create better products, processes and experiences we need to look at nature first. Currently, technology can be not only clinical but quite rigid. Nature brings a certain poetry, organic and 'living' quality to man-made innovation. My starting point is always the atmosphere I wish to conjure and working with the natural elements to guide my design work.
IS THERE AN ASPECT OF THE NATURAL WORLD WHICH YOU FIND YOURSELF INEXPLICABLY OR CONTINUOUSLY DRAWN TO?
Water. For light reflections on the water or in the steam of saturated air. Water can be seen in so many guises and can express emotion just by the way it moves- angry, melancholic, serene, peaceful, joyful.
FOR EACH COLLECTION DO YOU WORK ON TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT FOR YEARS IN ADVANCE OR DO YOU ATTEMPT TO APPLY EACH CUTTING EDGE TEXILE YOU’RE WORKING WITH TO YOUR UPCOMING COLLECTIONS?
Each scientific development has a different lead-time. Some technologies are ‘low-tech‘ such as the sunlight reactive fabrics and others are more complicated and take longer. The projects are all design-led so the technology is used to enhance the concept.
WHAT TECHNOLOGIES ARE YOU WORKING WITH FOR THIS YEAR?
I've currently spent the last several months working on developing a material called ‘polymer opal‘ (a stretch-activated material) and developing this material aesthetically and commercially so it can be used on various fabrics.
YOU’VE MENTIONED YOU WORKED WITH A NUMBER OF SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS. WHO ARE YOUR MOST EXCITING COLLABORATIONS?
Again the polymer opal project has been a very exciting collaboration as most of the technology I have previously used (apart from the holographic textile project) has been commercially available but I discovered and re-worked it into a creative application. The Polymer Opals come straight from the lab.
I‘m also currently working on a brand new scientific collaboration with a new material, which will be released soon.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE MAKES YOURSELF DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FASHION TECHIES- AS YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED MAKING YOUR INNOVATIVE GARMENTS COMMERCIAL?
I think we are all putting our special stamp on the field of fashion and technology. Some of my pieces have a commercial appeal as they use familiar ‘fashion‘ language (using fabrics such as cotton/ silk etc.) and wearable cuts. The classic is fused with a special technical element, which enhances the experience for the wearer. The added special ingredient.
ASIDE FROM RAINBOW WINTERS, ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS?
I'm working on developing a merchandise project for the entertainment industry, which is connected to Rainbow Winters. I'm also working on various client projects using new materials.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE NEXT STEP FOR THIS FIELD OF SCIENCE WITHIN FASHION? ESPECIALLY NANOTECHNOLOGY AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL-REACTIVE TEXTILES?
The project on polymer opals lies in the field of nanotechnology. The materials created produce colours based exclusively on the nanoscale spacing of transparent components. Currently the material stretches to dynamically reveal a colour change. The possibilities for this material within fashion are not only clothes which can change colour when worn or flexed, but also temperature sensitive and for creating colour without toxic dyes.
AS YOUR WORK DEVIATES FROM TREND, WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO SEE YOURSELF, AND THE FASHION/DESIGN INDUSTRIES IN A FEW YEARS TIME?
I see myself as working in the entertainment and advertising industries on experimental work but working in the 'medium' of fashion. I see fashion as a tool to communicate incredible ideas.