Armed with our initial vision of a base garment that could essentially play videos on its surface, let’s explore some of the challenges that need to be addressed before this could become reality.
Last time we talked about some of the properties needed by a material used for a base garment. This time, let’s look at issues of comfort.
Comfort can be a very subjective term, because different cultures have different expectations of ‘comfort’ in their garments based on their societal expectations of behavior, the climate in which they are based, and the materials which are readily available and part of their cultural meme. What a culture based in the equator might regard as comfortable would not be regarded as comfortable by a culture based near the Arctic Circle. And while this is of course an extreme example, it serves to highlight why comfort can be so challenging to define.
Nevertheless, for our purposes, comfort needs to be defined as ‘keeping the wearer comfortable in whatever climate they are in according to their societal memes.’
Most garments are made of woven textiles. A woven textile is made of multiple threads, which cross each other at a 90 degree angle, and which are more or less tightly ‘packed’ together to form the weave. No matter how tight the weave may be, however, there are always small spaces or holes left between the crossing threads. Even threads that to the naked eye seem to compactly touch one another are not actually completely meshed together. These tiny holes allow air to enter the garment, and perspiration and heat to leave the garment.
The degree to which the fibers of the threads interconnect, the size of the thread, and of course, the spacing of the threads in the weave will all have an impact not only on the comfort of a garment, but also on its durability.
Even those materials which are not made of woven threads have small interstitial air holes or pockets, which enable garments made from these materials to ‘breathe’. This concept of breathing is critical for comfort: in both warm and cold climates, materials that don’t breathe lock perspiration inside the garment, which eventually leads to discomfort from overheating. In very cold climates, the inability of a textile to breathe, or vent water vapor, leads to clamminess and eventually to the wearer experiencing cold.
Any material used for a base garment would need to have the ability to breathe, regardless of whether or not it was a woven or a nonwoven. The glass substrate might be able to have some sort of micropores (tiny holes for breathing) incorporated into it, which would help create a more comfortable material to be worn.
This question of comfort also arises in the make and manufacture of the actual garment, which we will address next time.