Techwear: Cyberpunk in Contemporary Fashion
Techwear is a trend in modern streetwear characterized by high-tech materials, high function, and urban influence. Components of techwear outfits are identified by high tech materials chosen to maximize the comfort of the wearer in response to the conditions of the environment. Freedom of motion is a high priority. Cold and wet environments inspire waterproof outer layers with insulating inner layers. Warmer climates inspire light and porous outer layers with moisture-wicking inner layers.
The most interesting aspect of techwear is the boldness of its aesthetic. Neutral colors with sleek, futuristic silhouettes quickly remind us of the cyberpunk aesthetic, which is defined as "high tech, low life". This saying refers not only to the lifestyle but also the fashion. Fashion in the cyberpunk genre is often identified by in-your-face neon colors, cybernetic augmentations, masks, and other futuristic accessories and modifications.
Visually, the two aesthetics share some themes: high tech, ubiquitous neutrals, and high body coverage. Cyberpunk's high tech aspects include cybernetic augmentations and clothing with sensors that react with the environment.
Techwear's high tech aspects include high tech materials and fabrics that uphold properties like breathability, insulation, or waterproofness while remaining low profile. It also includes accessories that passively adapt their utility to the wearer's environment, like filtering masks that can protect the wearer from disease or pollution.
Cyberpunk and techwear both maintain a lot of neutral colors, particularly blacks and grays. Cyberpunk may juxtapose this with neon accents, but techwear holds true to low profile neutrals, with occasional dark colors or dull whites.
Techwear and cyberpunk also happen to share high body coverage. Compared to most other styles, a techwear or cyberpunk outfit will show much less of the wearer's skin in the same climate. Instead of skin, these outfits would reveal a tightly fitting under layer on parts of the body that don't have multiple layers, since layering is essential to a techwear outfit in any weather.
These two aesthetics compliment one another and feel as though they're the same idea rendered in different settings. This leads us to refer to cyberpunk as itself but techwear as its contemporary counterpart. They both employ fashion technology to achieve some goal and have now converged upon a shared visual identity. Similarly, they both in some way antagonize the technological authority of high powers. Techwear outfits sometimes feature masks, which are known to combat facial recognition surveillance. Cyberpunk outfits do the same and may even feature more anti-authority technology such as sensor jamming technology among many other things.
As digital and bio technology extend their reach into fashion and cultural expression, will we see techwear become cyberpunk as we know it today? Will this modern fashion trend continue to expand out of its niche and reach the masses to become the norm? I'm sure time will tell.
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