Review: Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes are light, fast & perfect for cyclocross

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weightsA few years back, I tested the Northwave Extreme road bike shoes and liked them…still ride ’em, in fact. So when the chance to test their lightweight, racy Extreme XC shoes came up, I stepped up. Like the road shoes, the 2014 model (tested…long term review, here) came in a really bright color alongside the standard black. For 2015, the green carries over and they added a sweet angular gray urban camo with bright orange highlights. The Extreme XC model also gained a Velcro strap near the toe and a partnership with Michelin to develop grippier outsole traction pads. Otherwise, the shoes are similar in materials and design, enough so that this review bodes well for the current version, too…

 

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

The uppers are a lightweight microfiber. The test models had larger perforations across the toe, the 2015 model gets small pinhole perfs across the sides instead. Both have the small mesh vent on top of the toes.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Despite the narrow Italian look, the shoes are comfortable without constricting the foot. They’re snug, like a racing shoe should be, but not uncomfortably so. A few small mesh vents on the toe and instep combine with a perforated foam tongue to help the feet breathe. During the summer, they never felt hot, probably helped by the light color and thin upper material. In winter, they’re good with thin wool socks to a point, after which there’s not much room inside them for thicker socks so it’s best to switch to a dedicated winter shoe.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Scuff guards on the toe and bottom instep help protect high abrasion areas. They’re thermowelded to the upper, creating a seamless one-piece upper.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

The heel cup has a reinforced shape inside the bottom 2/3, then sits high on the achilles tendon with a non-slip fabric to keep your foot firmly planted inside the shoe.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

In more than a year of riding, I’ve never had my feet feel like they were going to lift out.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

One of the key features unique to their Extreme mountain bike shoes is the narrow, minimalist carbon sole. For 2014 they used Vibram rubber pads in the center section, which saves you when you can’t quite get clipped in and need some traction on the pedals. It also adds a bit of purchase when hiking unrideable sections. For 2015, they switched to a special rubber from Michelin.

Even with a very stiff sole, these shoes are decently walkable, and they run great over barriers and up steep hills for cyclocross.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Both model years use a dual ratchet with a release lever. The ratcheting is smooth, even when covered with mud, but the release lever leaves a lot to be desired. Often, I’d have to tighten them a click while holding then pulling the lever, fiddle with it a bit, and then simultaneously pull the cable out while jiggling it. I didn’t have the same issue with this system on the road shoes, so it’s likely just gummed up, but it does mean it takes an extra 20-30 seconds to get the shoes off. To its credit, the system does keep the foot secure and never accidentally loosened.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Speaking of gumming up, the continuous strip of tread adjacent to the cleats provides a big area for mud to collect. It didn’t seem to prevent cleat/pedal engagement, but it does mean more rotating mass on each pedal stroke.

The upside is that the tread strips also provide a small platform to rest on the pedals, which helps with minimalist pedals like the Ritchey WCS (cleats shown above) and Crank Brothers Eggbeaters (below).

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Tow spike mounts come standard, which I should probably install for ‘cross, but the shoes seem to do fine without them.

Northwave Extreme XC mountain bike shoes review and actual weights

Actual weight for size 47EU (~13US) is 645g for the pair. These came with two sets of insoles, but the 2015 models get a single, newer Extreme Air Evo footbed that gains a little arch support.

Northwave-Extreme-XC-2014-mountain-bike-shoe-review15

Long term, these things have held up very well through more than a year of wet, dry, hot and cold riding on mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes. They clean up easily, are light and surprisingly comfortable…and not just for a race shoe. They’re comfortable compared to any of my cycling shoes. Northwave’s BioMap design claims to put your foot in a powerful position for efficient pedaling, and it seems to work well without causing the fatigue some too-stiff shoes can. They’re stiff, but they don’t beat up my feet. And the carbon sole and treads have held up exceptionally well to the abuse mountain bike shoes usually see.

Shimano R321 road shoes £299.99

Two Pairs of Sunglasses for a Great Price

I am not the type of person to just pick something at random when I need something. The other day, I lost my sunglasses, and my friend suggested that we go to the local store to get a new pair. While I do shop there for many things, I knew that they would not carry the designer sunglasses that I insist upon. When I normally have a pair of sunglasses, they last me for years, unless I of course lose them like I just did. That is why I wanted something more than a cheap plastic pair.

I knew that I was going to get them from Designer Sunnies, an online designer sunglasses retailer, but I was not sure what kind I was going to get. The first thing I did when I got to their site was customize my search. I looked at the different brands that they sell, and I decided to look at Michael Kors since I have a purse that I absolutely love from the same designer. Continue reading

The Shirty affair!

 q

Styles come and styles go only to return again. Sometimes, certain styles are modified to make them look more in tune with the times, but there are some trends that keep a steady hold with the passage of time.These styles gradually gain a strong holdon our hearts and eventually in our wardrobes. For the modern Indian woman much influenced by western fashion as she is by the Indian sensibilities, there are certain wardrobe staples that she swears by! Starting with dresses for girls, like the little black dress which is a rage nowadays to maxi dresses which have also gained a lot of popularity to typical Indian ethnic wear to shirts for women which count as the basic office wear – all of these are found in her closet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the different shirts that we stock, thewhite shirt is one of the most important wardrobe essentials for every woman.Though most of us associate a white shirt with the typical corporate dress code, however if we can manage to keep a flexible mind and try to experiment, it can open up a whole world of opportunities for us! The classic white shirt has got immense potential to be styled in more than just few ways by dressing it up or down. A plain button downshirt may not top the list of wardrobe staples which are fun to wear. They are more like the silent rescuer of the damsels in distress, when we have to go for some sober and polished dressing which calls for wearing the more serious looking shirts!So these shirts are in most cases, tucked safely away in the back side of our wardrobes until we need them again. These are very much like the dresses for girls, which are fun to wear and come out mostly due to seasonal demands. For example, we bring out our summer dresses only when the season is in, otherwise the breezy summer dresses find a silent place in the back of our closets! We mostly prefer to wear the simple shirts under blazers or shrugs and sweaters during winters, but for a fun and experimental look, they can be easily teamed with a pair of shorts in the summer with the sleeves being rolled up. They can double even as a beach cover up. Honestly speaking, if you are of my type and do not have either the patience or the ability to keep the whites white, then I would certainly recommend you to spend some more bucks for a non white simple shirt. You can jolly well replace it in a matter of few years once the white has turned yellow or after you have generously spilled a glass of wine all over it.

 

 

Historically speaking, shirts for women are one of the most versatile items to have earned a place in our wardrobes. Whether in shades of white or the classical oxford blue, we are certain to keep reaching out for this style over and over again. Shirts for women should ideally be long, almost covering thebutt portion of our bodies with a hem that is shaped like a shirt tail. The silhouette that it creates is expected be a bit oversized, but the sleeves of the shirt should be long and slim. A classically styled shirt for women comes with small collars, as is therefore guaranteed to brave the ups and downs of fashion trends with equal ease, that is, it will never go out of fashion.

 

 

 

 

Shirts offer a very different silhouette altogether than dresses for girls. Dresses are meant to accentuate the femininity more, while the shirts are more men’s fashion inspired. Yet a woman can look equally feminine and ravishing in a shirt which is differently styled than a man’s shirt thereby flattering the feminine body like no other outfit. How would you differentiate between a woman’s shirt and a shirt that belongs to a man? Well, you must have noticed that a woman’s shirt has got a more structured look than that of a man – it usually comes with darts that are placed along the sides of the bust area for a better fit and they are narrower toward the waist. Along with structure, they differ in terms of orientation too. To the person who is wearing the shirt, men’s shirt has its buttons on the right side, while women’s has buttons on the left. So from now on,nobody can escape by wearing their boyfriend or husband’s shirt and try to get away with it, without being caught by your discerning eyes!

Now you can simply grab your share of the most exclusive and amazing collection of chic shirts only at your one stop fashion store StalkBuyLove.

q2

Inkkas Shoes Review | Cotton Candy High Top

Shoes. One of my favourite accessories. I already have a collection of more shoes than I need, but I continue to buy more and more. And more.
The newest addition is these high top casual shoes I received from Inkkas Shoes in the colour Cotton Candy. I was super excited when I got these because they looked even prettier in real life than they did online.
Knowing me, I wear black everything all the time including shoes, but upon being contacted and looking at the website I just HAD to pick the pink pair. Pink is my favorite colour after all.

These shoes are the comfiest things I think I’ve ever put on my feet. Normally, a new pair of shoes are rough and hard to break in, but in just 5 minutes of wearing them around they just got comfier and comfier and loosened to hug me perfectly.
The shoes are made from fabric and feel to be hand woven all throughout the design around the whole shoe. The designs are interwoven with different colours to resemble a tribal pattern, the shoes are very soft to the touch and have that woven fabric feel.
Inside, the shoe has a firm spongy insole that bends to form the shape of your foot for extra comfort, and the lining of the inside is also very soft and spongy with fabric to ensure your foot is kept safe and no rubbing against hard inlay, which is really great for my fussy feet.
The bottom of the shoe is rubber and has groves in patterns, so no slipping for you. The base of the shoe is very sturdy and secured to the top of the shoe so it shouldn’t separate quite so easily (something I’ve found to happen with other converse type shoe designs.) Plus that bottom platform part is slightly taller than the average converse and thicker, so it feels sturdier.
The laces are however quite thin so they could stretch and wear with rough use, but should last with good care.

Values of a company are one of the reasons I love a company and want to support them, I believe if a company has good values then they have personality and compassion and it makes them real. With that being said:
Inkkas shoes are made at the hand of Indigenous South Americans with Peruvian textiles, hence the tribal design on all of the shoes. However, they are a Free Trade company, keeping respect to the lovely makers of these shoes. They are also Eco-Friendly and only use such materials for their products, which we all know is something I am an activist for, I love all things friendly to the environment. And they are socially responsible, so they donate a portion of every sale to the Indigenous South American communities, which is why the prices on the shoes are what they are.
All these points make Inkkas a great company in my mind and show that they are a caring and responsible company who think about what they produce and think about others. Always a good thing and I will always support a company like that.

All in all, I LOVE these shoes! They’re so different to anything I own, they’re so lovely and unique and comfy. I put them on to take some photos and found myself getting excited and felt happy and jumpy and I kinda went little nuts and had a mini photo shoot with myself. That’s how these shoes make me feel, though, just fun. I can’t wait to find ways to style them with my usual style, but I think they will work wonderfully.

Bont Blitz shoes – review

If you haven’t used Bont shoes before, there are a couple of things that you’ll notice which set the Aussie company apart from other cycling shoe manufacturers.

First is the shape. Far from following the traditional shoe shape, Bont make their bike shoes to mirror the outline of a foot. And that means the shoe gets progressively wider until the toes, where it ends with a gentle arc, rather than the pointier shape used by many brands. It means that they look like they’re an odd shape – or, perhaps more correctly, a more exaggerated version of the same shape – when compared with the majority of cycling shoes, but the thinking behind it certainly makes sense. Consequently, the sole looks absolutely huge and part of that is also down to the fact that, unlike traditional road shoes, the sole wraps up around the sides slightly to provide lateral support for the forefoot so, in effect, the sole actually is bigger on a Bont shoe.

The layup of the soles is 3K unidirectional carbon fibre. Unidirectional carbon uses only half the strands of cross weave carbon, which means half the weight in carbon and half the amount of resin is needed to set it, so you can make a stiff sole considerably lighter. Of course, unidirectional carbon only give strength in one direction, but for something like a cycling shoe sole that’s not a disaster.

 
The Blitzes cut a striking figure, especially in this hot pink colour. They’re also available in white, yellow and blue for anyone who fancies something different

One more thing to note about Bont soles is that they’re super stiff. In my experience of testing bike shoes, there are stiff soles, there are very stiff soles and then there’s Bont. Every time I use a set of their shoes I’m amazed at how stiff they are, and, to be honest, they could probably do with a little more padding on the insoles in order to counteract that. If you’re not used to highly stiff soles, you might find your feet stinging a little after the first ride or two but don’t worry you’ll soon get used to it.

The other plus with the Blitz’s soles is that they’re heat mouldable. Stick them in the oven at 70 degrees for 20 minutes and they’re compliant enough that you can ease out any problem spots, but remember to take out the insoles first. And make sure you keep an eye on them while they’re in the oven. Even if you have an independent thermometer, it’s easy to overcook them. Literally. And the last thing you want to do is ruin a £180 set of bike shoes in the oven.

The other thing to know about heat moulding is, although the soles will be malleable, it won’t be a case of them flexing around in your hands like cardboard. You’ll still need to apply a bit of force to make them do what you want but again, be careful, because too much force can still crack the carbon, hence why they come with instructions to not walk in them while they’re hot.

 
The soles on Bont’s shoes are not only very stiff, they’re also a different shape form anything else on the market, mimicking the shape of a foot’s sole. The other unique feature is that the soles wrap around the foot slightly, rather than being completely flat

The upper is also heat mouldable, and you can dial in the fit not just of the sole during the moulding process. The upper is made from a microfiber, and is wonderfully supple when heated so you can put the shoes on, do them up and wait for them to set knowing that you’ll achieve a better fit from the process.

The ventilation on the upper is pretty good. The combination of perforations down each side of the shoe with two mesh vents at the front means you never overheat, and there are a couple of small vents in the rubber front bumper too.

Closure is dealt with by a single Boa dial and a small support strap. The Boa gives a solid, progressive tightening over the top of the shoe, and the strap means you can squeeze the toe box really tight if that’s the way you like your shoes.

In fact, overall, the quality of these shoes is really rather pleasing. They look like what you’d expect from a £180 set of bike shoes, and the little touches – like how well the upper joins the sole – are all done excellently. You also don’t have to have them in this hot pink colour if you fancy something a little more subdued, and Bont do them in white, yellow and blue which is a pretty good range of colours and should offer something for everyone.

 
Closure is handled by a single Boa dial and support strap. The dial gives a progressive closure across the top of the foot and the strap enables you to tighten the toe box up if you like a really snug fit

Out riding, the issue I had with the Blitz is width. My feet are quite wide, and I don’t naturally fit into one of the sizes on Bont’s chart – Bont suggest sizing based on length and width of feet in millimetres. The main issue is where the sides wrap around slightly and my feet push against both sides when I’m riding hard which ends up being a little uncomfortable. Going up a size could give a little more lateral room, but the extra length might make them feel a little ungainly. I’ve used a set of the excellent Riots before and very much enjoyed them, but for some reason I just couldn’t get comfortable in the Blitz.

So, I decided to try and ease out the problem spots with a bit of custom moulding. I had a couple of goes at it and, to be honest, didn’t have a huge amount of luck. The heel cup moulded very nicely, but trying to flatten the last out a little bit proved a fruitless endeavour. It’s a shame beucase there’s a lot to like about these shoes and actually, I suspect there are an awful lot of riders who would really love this set of Bonts and would find that their characteristics suit their foot shape perfectly.

Conclusion

Basically, it all comes down to fit with Bont’s Blitz shoes. You can’t knock them on build quality, stiffness, and general function, but whether or not your feet are the right shape to match some of their features will be the only answer to whether you’ll get on with them or not. Don’t get this review wrong, these are a quality set of bike shoes, they’re just not the right set of shoes for me.

Mavic Crossmax Enduro shoes £150.00 High performance enduro race shoes

Nisolo Shoes: Style, Ethics, and Value in The Entire Package

Nisolo Shoes Denimhunters Style Ethics and Value in The Entire PackageWe’re always looking for the perfect shoe to pair with our raw denim. We want our shoes, and often our boots, to look good, be made fairly and, if possible, to be a good value. We can usually get one or two of those things.

Nisolo, based in Nashville, TN, has managed to produce the entire package. The idea for the company, helmed by Patrick Woodyard and Zoe Cleary, came to Woodyard while he was living in Peru. Woodyard saw a dearth of jobs that paid skilled craftsman appropriately. He decided to fix this problem, and Nisolo was born.

These shoes, and chukka boots, are absolutely gorgeous. They are simplistically styled with a low profile. Honestly, they could be perfect shoes. Nisolo makes their shoes in Peru using a vertically integrated business model that pays their workers above fair wage rates.

Nisolo somehow manage to do all of this while keeping the price points at an incredibly reasonable $168 for the oxfords. Their most expensive shoe, a wingtip, runs $198.

slideshow_4

Nisolo offers eight chukka boots with a leather sole, two with rubber. The Wesley Oxford comes in oak and steel, its cousin the Wesley LE in the same shades. They also have a chunkier oxford, boat shoes and driving shoes; but, the Wesley LE is the real star of the show.

I had the chance to road test a pair of these shoes (shown below paired with LVC 1947 501 jeans.) They’re everything a denimhunter could want in a shoe: clean, sleek, affordable and made in conditions I could feel good about. Putting them on my large (size 12.5 US), goofy feet look slim and, dare I say, sexy.

Nisolo Shoes review on Denimhunters-2-2

Nisolo Shoes review on Denimhunters-3

Nisolo also stocks belts and totes for men. They also have the same quality of shoes for women, if there’s a lady denimhunter in your life looking for ethically made, beautifully simple shoes that won’t break the bank.

Are Mixed Gender Shows the End of Men’s Fashion Weeks?

As more brands combine their men’s and women’s shows, what is the future of standalone men’s fashion weeks?

LONDON, United Kingdom — Of the many changes brands are making to the fashion week formula, one approach seems to be sticking: mixed-gender catwalk shows.

Starting in September, Burberry and Bottega Veneta will combine their men’s and women’s collections into one show, held on the women’s show schedule. In 2017, Gucci will follow suit and Tommy Hilfiger has announced plans to “eventually” do the same.

Meanwhile, Zegna, Calvin Klein, Brioni, Cavalli, Costume National, and Ermanno Scervino have all opted not to host shows at Milan menswear week in June, leaving the men’s schedule noticeably empty. Zegna and Calvin Klein will skip this season as they change designers, while Brioni will show at women’s couture week in Paris instead. In Paris, Balenciaga’s first menswear show will bolster the schedule, though both Berluti and Saint Laurent will be absent this season.

For brands, mixed-gender shows have some advantages. First, there are the costs saved by hosting one show rather than two. Some designers also conceive their men’s and women’s collections from the same ideas and inspirations, so showing them together makes sense from a creative standpoint (although some major houses employ different creative leaders for their men’s and women’s businesses). And in some stores, menswear and womenswear are merchandised together, so it is helpful for buyers to view them together on the runway.

So how will mixed-gender shows impact men’s fashion weeks, especially fledgling weeks like London Collections: Men, which launched in 2012, and New York Fashion Week: Men’s, which launched last year? Without blockbuster shows by brands like Burberry, will these events still pull in international buyers and editors? BoF spoke to a handful of industry insiders to find out.

Steven Kolb, president & chief executive officer, CFDA

“The validity of New York Fashion Week: Men’s is still strong. It might not be the giant animal that other men’s fashion weeks have been or are — or might not be much longer. But it has a valid purpose and I don’t see that going away. There are so many brands that are singularly men’s, which feed off the trade show schedule and see the value of being in the market. There is still a validity for NYFW: Men’s in terms of feeding talent that is new and young.

What I see happening, though, is this blur between collections. I see a shift to ‘seasonless’ ideas. What I think is going to happen is you’ll see men’s shows now having women’s collections, you’ll see men’s and women’s together, you’ll see men’s going into women’s, you’ll see brands going off Spring and Fall and into Pre-Collections. I think we’ll find ourselves not even saying Pre-Fall, Fall, Resort anymore, but going with what some brands are already doing: Collection 1, Collection 2, Collection 3.”

Caroline Rush, chief executive officer, British Fashion Council

“Having designers question pre-conceived notions of gender or simply recognising that menswear collections are appealing to a female consumer is a trend that continues. Craig Green, for example, has started using female models to show his collections in order to appeal to his pre-existing female clients. Showing menswear and womenswear alongside each other on the runway when you have one creative director helps to build a cohesive brand. The prevalence of womenswear in the summer men’s shows also works in terms of timings [due to the] menswear shows’ crossover with Pre-Collections sales times.

Having said that, we are keen that this doesn’t eclipse the fact that we have significant menswear-only businesses and leading menswear talent in London, and that this is being promoted accordingly to reach a growing market segment. We also recognise that blending shows does cause challenges for audiences that may not traditionally travel to menswear shows. We take this point seriously and are exploring new ways in which we can work with audiences to make this work or deliver exclusive content around the shows.”

Vanessa Friedman, fashion director & chief fashion critic, The New York Times

“Mixed-gender shows may be the end of men’s fashion weeks as we have known them for the last two years — i.e. as a week each in London, New York, Milan and Paris. What I would expect is that more brands that sell both men’s and womenswear will begin to buy into the economic and creative logic of showing both lines together. This will probably pump up the women’s schedule, which is already longer and more populated than men’s, and thus has a certain magnetic pull, though it could also have beneficial fall-out for Pre-Collections (Public School will have its unified show during Resort in New York this month).

What it may do, however, is put an end to the men’s weeks in London and New York, which are the youngest of the bunch (despite the fact Sibling has just announced it is showing its unified lines during London Collections: Men, which complicates things further). However, brands that sell only menswear will still need an outlet and a fashion week of their own, and it may not make sense for them to show during womenswear. My guess is the unexpected beneficiary of all this will be Pitti Uomo in Florence.”

Josh Peskowitz, co-founder, Magasin

“Mixed gender shows aren’t the end of men’s fashion shows, but they will redefine fashion weeks. Most of the big houses don’t only do men’s, so if they all combine it will change the scheduling of the weeks. The amount of shows left over wouldn’t be enough to merit the investment in travel. If the schedule does shift to the dates of men’s (which would be better for women’s buyers as well) then we will have to consider the economic and logistical repercussions of the move. New York, Milan and Paris hotels are already packed, not to mention the show venues. Having both sides of the industry in the same cities at the same time would be very hard to navigate. Will there be enough cars to hire? Enough hotel rooms? Enough seats? Who gets precedence?

Since fashion shows are just as much marketing as a tool for editorial and retail, it makes sense to get a bigger impact for the investment. So from the brands’ perspective it seems to me like a win. I don’t think it would necessarily lessen editorial coverage of the men’s shows, but readers and consumers would not necessarily have the bandwidth to sift through all the info.”

Suzy Menkes, international editor, Vogue

“For 22 years, I did the men’s shows as well as the women’s shows when virtually nobody else was doing that. And then, suddenly, the men’s collections flowered and became immensely important. I think they’re now going to be reduced back to a natural state of things. I certainly think that Zegna, which is a real example of men’s clothing, is completely different from a brand that does men’s and women’s like Gucci. So I don’t know how you divide those up, but I’d say leave more room, more space for the genuine menswear companies and combine the others.”

Justin O’Shea, creative director, Brioni

“I think having men and women together is more positive than negative. The women’s industry moves at a far faster rate than the men’s industry. I think that the more youthful, enthusiastic excitement and more fun in the women’s industry is something that men’s doesn’t have as much.

I think the best part about LC:M is that it’s the new generation of men’s fashion week. It’s all young designers, it’s ultimately creative — the commerciality of it is probably something that will develop over time, but it’s still something that is very exciting. Just look at the difference: LC:M is exciting; Milan men’s fashion week is boring. That’s not any detriment to the brands, but maybe some people need a kick in the ass — can you survive during the same thing or do you need to move along a little?

Whether LC:M should be on the same schedule as London women’s fashion week, I think that is a really interesting idea — whether the show schedule can hold men and women together. Maybe then fashion weeks should be like, ‘Should all shows be on schedule?’”

Tim Blanks, editor-at-large, The Business of Fashion

“What will be very interesting is how you combine the media. That’s probably the challenge — does that mean more work for less journalists?

I think combining men’s and women’s shows makes sense when you see collections like Gucci, because the compatibility of the two collections is so great. The same with Helmut Lang, back in the olden days — you can never imagine those collections being split. It will create interesting synchronicities that don’t exist right now.

But then you’re into all that stuff about deliveries. We’re looking at rationalisation on so many levels right now, and [everyone showing on the men’s timings in January and June] would seem to be quite a sensible one.”

Angelo Flaccavento, fashion journalist

“To me it makes perfect sense in terms of creative vision and timing, too. It can be a bit tricky in terms of press, because there are two separate outlets — menswear and womenswear magazines. But there are also less and less differences between men and women. Most collections just carry on the same inspiration, so it makes perfect sense.”

Kevin Harter, vice president & men’s fashion director, Bloomingdale’s

“Selfishly, I love having a fashion week where men’s is the focus. I’ve seen it so many times where men’s has had to take the back seat. But I understand what’s going on in the market. The reality is we’re going to see more people combining their shows — and even more importantly, showing their clothing in more unique ways. I think that’s what we’re all preparing for. There’s a real element of the unknown out there right now.”

Bosse Myhr, Director of Menswear, Selfridges

“The key point of interest for me is a new sense of fluidity and freedom in the industry. All formats are relevant now — and increasingly designers can find their own way and on their own terms. There was a point when people thought fashion shows would be a thing of the past in the digital age — when this format is now more dynamic, accessible and engaging than ever before. Men’s fashion weeks are a valuable platform — flexibility and new ideas can only bring new and expanded opportunities.”

Met Gala 2016: is 3D printing the future of fashion?

Every year all the biggest celebrities from the fashion, music, and film worlds come together dressed to the nines for the Met Gala, a high-profile fundraising event that raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. The event is no ordinary fundraiser, however, as it draws attention from media outlets and people everywhere who are eager to see how celebs and fashion designers have interpreted the annual Met Gala theme. Last year’s theme “China: Through the Looking Glass”, was inspired by the Met’s exhibition by the same name and celebrities came adorned in the finest Chinese fabrics, and Chinese inspired designs. This year, in line with the Met’s recently launched exhibition Manus x Machina, the theme revolved around Fashion in the Age of Technology, and what became apparent during the evening, both through what celebs were adorned in and through the exhibit itself, was that technologies such as 3D printing are really the future of fashion.

On the red carpet—which was painted with a double-helix motif—as celebrity after celebrity posed in their stunning gowns and suits, it was interesting to see what interpretations of fashion and technology were brought forth. While many people chose to dress in metallic, or robotic styles, some celebrities went above and beyond in their embodiments of fashion in an age of technology by highlighting the recent advances in smart wearables. Model Karolina Kurkova, for instance, wore a stunning gown embedded with LED lights which flashed on when people tweeted #MetGala or #CognitiveDress. Claire Danes wore an equally dreamy number, a Cinderella inspired organza gown designed by Zac Posen that had ultrathin fiber-optics woven into it, which lit up in an eerie and stunning way.

Forward thinking fashion icon Emma Watson also impressed in a subtle black and white outfit which was made entirely from recycled plastics, showing the potential of sustainable fashion.  Lady Gaga, of course, wowed everyone with a Versace ensemble that included a micro-chip esque jacket which was made with laser cutting technology. Girls actress Allison Williams was one of our personal favorites, as she came down the runway in an ethereal one-shouldered gown designed by Peter Pilotto, which was embellished with a number of 3D printed flowers.

Other guests opted for more traditional gowns and suits, which nonetheless played into the theme of Manus x Machina, as they demonstrated the continued relevance of couture and handmade clothing into the age of technology. As we will elaborate on later, the two are practically inextricable. On an anecdotal level, 3D printing made another fun appearance at the Met Gala, as young internet personality Cameron Dallas was gifted with a personalized cupcake which featured his face 3D printed on it. The cupcake was a gift from TopShop, who dressed the young celebrity.

Of course, the entire Met Gala soirée was based around the Costume Institute’s exhibition, Manus x Machina, which itself should be mentioned for its innovative approach to fashion. The exhibition, which was organized in association with Apple—whose own wearable tech is beginning to catch on—officially opened on May 5th, and is showcasing “how designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear.”

The topic, which is admittedly very broad, as even sewing machines could be considered technology, explores how technologies and machines have been utilized by fashion designers not necessarily as a way to streamline the designing process, but as a creative tool, as a sort of hand in itself. For those familiar with Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s work, this philosophy may sounds familiar, as she is known for essentially understanding 3D printing technologies as an extension of her own creative hand.

Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute explains, “Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. Manus x Machina challenges the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and proposes a new paradigm germane to our age of technology.”

The exhibition itself showcases more than 170 pieces dating from the early 1900s up until the present. With an equal focus on traditional handcrafting techniques like embroidery, featherwork, lacework, and leatherwork, and on more technological techniques like 3D printing the exhibition effectively explores the relationship between the two. Among the designers featured in the exhibit are icons such as Coco Chanel, Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garçons, Karl Lagerfeld, Hussein Chalayan, and two of our favorites, 3D printed fashion pioneers threeASFOUR and Iris van Herpen.

What the exhibit demonstrates is how technologies like 3D printing are effectively reinvigorating and revolutionizing the fashion industry, offering new and novel ways of creating both new materials and previously unthinkable designs. Of course, one of the arguments against the technology is that it takes away some of the personal touches and handcrafted care that go into the making of haute couture clothing, but as we can see from our current fast-fashion system, in which poorly paid laborers are essentially slaving away to make our clothing, the idea of the hand being pure is somewhat complicated.

So, is 3D printing the future of fashion? Considering how the technology is continually opening the doors for designers to explore new materials, new structures, and new designs, it is possible to imagine that additive manufacturing could actually be as revolutionary as even the sewing machine once was for the fashion industry. Perhaps one day, the technology will even go beyond its current haute-couture fashions and 3D printed fashions will be worn by everyone.

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology will be running at the Robert Lehman Wing of the Costume Institute until August 14th, 2016.