A sense of style, shape, hues, texture, and a degree in aeronautical engineering is all it takes to become an award winning designer these days. And when you are this smart, you can either use your intelligence to exploit the gullible masses, or actually do something with it to make lives easier for the less smart. Luckily for us, Ryan Yasin – a student from Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering – chose the second option.
Ryan is a student on the Global Innovation Design course, and also the creator of Petit Pli, a line of clothing for children which, get this, grows with the growth of the child’s body! Were I a parent who considered the fortune such a wardrobe would save me from the economic struggle of updating my child’s closet every few months from infancy to toddlerhood (not sure if that’s a word), I would hunt this designer down to personally hand over the James Dyson Award to him. What is that, you ask? It is an international design award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers, jointly run between Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering and the Royal College of Art. He did win the honour, by the way.
So what does Aeronautical Engineering have to do with this, you may wonder. It so happens that Ryan focused his master’s thesis on deployable nano-satellites and explored how to pack as much material as possible into a 2mm space. It was during this project that he learnt about auxetic materials, clothes made of which can even be folded small enough to fit in pockets.
A product so utilitarian (and desirable at an age when expenses are on an endless rise) seems like a financial boon, but the probablility of it surviving the crushing competition of the fashion world is actually very thin. It is actually quite silly to expect a market (of childrenswear) worth £5.6bn, according to Euromonitor in the UK alone, will give a chance to a line that could challenge, even in the minutest scope, its legitimacy.
Social factors such as a rapidly increasing birth rate, parents having children later in life and a glut of baby-boomer grandparents with more disposable income at their fingertips than at any point in history have combined to make childrenswear a highly lucrative business.
Add to this the barrage of images force fed by the internet of snazzily dressed offsprings of international celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Victoria Beckham (parents who publicise their own fashion brands via these mini-models in most cases), the pressure mothers feel to keep their kids style in vogue, regardless of how comfortable of practical it be, is a difficult one to escape.
Doesn’t mean Ryan’s work should be tossed in the bin, though. People like me who have missed the train to grow any taller but boast of a frequently fluctuating waistline (with an ever increasing trend) could find place for Petit Pli products in our closet.
Someone has to pitch this idea of an alternative market to the designer, eventually.