Meet Techtiles

Various equipment fills the counters and cabinets at a materials laboratory at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City on September 19th, 2012. The lab tested the authenticity of four different fabrics purported to be cashmere. CREDIT: Bryan Derballa for The DailyBryan Derballa

Welcome to Techtiles, the only blog about the science of fashion written by me. Come on in. Take a seat. Please do not put your feet up unless you've been wearing anti-microbial socks. Do those things even do anything? you ask. Great question. Kind of, and yes, but only on the first wear. Silver nanoparticle socks do kill your foot germs, but they wash right out of the socks in the laundry, and that wastewater can damage natural ecosystems. More on the topic of germ-fighting clothes later, but for now feel free to use that whenever someone says your feet stink.

Even if you think fashion is vapid, the science behind it is relevant to anyone who wears clothes. Sports fans might be interested to know that the Golden State Warriors' and the L.A. Clippers' new short-sleeved jerseys are made from 60% recycled material that is 26% lighter than traditional sleeveless jerseys (but they might still constrict in the way of George Costanza's cotton Yankees jerseys.) For the environmentalists in the crowd, I'll write about the recent Greenpeace study that showed clothes from companies like H&M and Nike use fabric dyes with harmful levels of phthalates. Are other companies' dyes any better? And do those chemicals actually rub off on us? Well, you're about to find out.

In the coming months, Techtiles will visit Shapeways—the company trailblazing the 3D-printed clothing industry—to see how they 3D print leather (!). I'll report on the race to create an unbreakable button. (Yes, button. Yes, it's a race.) And you know how one third of all the fish we're eating is not actually the fish on the label? The same often goes for clothes. I'll break down the most frequently mislabeled fabrics, and why you got that rash from them. I'll go inside the freshly launched "Cotton or Nothing" campaign to find out what the big deal is about cotton blends. And if anyone has insider tips (ahem, Apple wearables designers, I'm looking at you) please send them to me at popscitechtiles@gmail.com. For now, settle in and get ready to look at your clothes in a whole new way.