Designers imagine the future of performance-wear with 2040 sport event at Arizona State University

Running man polygonal

Arizona State University will be hosting the fifth annual edition of its Emerge festival tomorrow – an occasion that will bring together the minds of artists, scientists, storytellers, engineers, dancers, roboticists, ethicists and athletes, in creating an imagined future.

Designed to cater to a crowd of innovators and forward thinkers, the focus this year is on “The Future of Sport 2040”. The carnival atmosphere will allow for a wholly interactive experience from advanced robotics demonstrations to group TED talks with influencers from an array of industries.

Topics will include the future of cheating, the future of big data, super-cyborgs and athletes in outer space. The future of performance-wear will also play a major role, with a runway set up in the Wells Fargo Arena to convey the work of 10 designers. Concept pieces created especially for the occasion will be on show, presenting the impact of future technologies through explanations by an emcee in place of such functionality yet being possible. Once the looks have been modelled, they will take to a podium for further observation and designer Q&A.

Arizona designer Angela Johnson and Project Runway participant Emily Payne were both involved. As the owner of LabelHorde – a hub for manufacturing, design services, co-working, education and more – Johnson took the helm on rounding up designers to participate.

Angela Johnson's Future of Sport 2040 look

Angela Johnson’s Future of Sport 2040 look

She also created her own look, a piece she refers to as multi-purpose with a sleek form accompanied by breathable panels. “The technology involved is in the fibre, in that the fabric acts like a video screen. The fabric will show video of the athlete’s name, number, team logo, sponsor logo, etc,” she explains. Typically an eveningwear designer, she describes the best part of participating in the event as “pushing [herself] to think outside of [her] usual box”.

Designer Miqala Salinas meanwhile, constructed football (soccer) uniforms that include pulse-controlled heart monitors and dual temperature controls. Cristy Auble – who is otherwise a fashion merchandising teacher in Arizona – designed cheerleading outfits that are completely flexible, breathable and waterproof. She did so incorporating present day Gore-Tex or PUL fabrics, which she believes to be impressively futuristic. “This fabric is so lightweight, I can’t believe it would be as warm as my heavy wool letterman’s jacket,” she says.

Anya Melkozernova by comparison fabricated her outfit on a truly futuristic concept: “In the year 2040, humans have made it to Jupiter and have employed its magnetic surface for an obstacle course game designed to use magnets to aid the athlete through the challenges. The player will be wearing a magnet plated suit, a space helmet with oxygen supply and LED light-up shoes for the underwater parts of the course,” she explains.

Sketches of Future of Sport 2040 looks

Sketches of Sharane Dorrah, Anya Melkozernova and Miqala Salinas’ Future of Sport 2040 looks

Some designers borrowed from personal experience in coming to future solutions. Sharane Dorrah for instance designed a sleek hooded jacket in direct response to her personal battle with Lyme Disease in 2011, incorporating insect repellent into the fabric.

And industrial design grad student Jacob Sarradet, recalled his time running cross-country and track and field in high school: “I’d feel the pain in my body and wonder what it was. Was it a result of pushing myself or was something wrong?” He devised a wristband that would monitor oxygen levels in order to track the level of performance to answer some of those questions for athletes. Coming from a non-fashion background, he’s left the aesthetics of his piece up to others. A basic LED screen will be customisable, with the true styling of the garment available for download from any number of online retailers.

Joel Garreau, founding chief of imagineering and provocations at the Emerge festival, says: “[The aim] is to invent futures in which we can thrive. Not the ones we fear, but the ones we can love.”

If you happen to be in Phoenix this Friday, step into the future from 5pm to 10pm at Emerge 2016: The Future of Sport 2040.