Mom And Son Lighting Up The Fashion World

By Pam Kragen
The San Diego Union-Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The mother-son duo has created five fashion pieces that incorporate LED lights, fiber optics, hidden batteries and tiny computers that create streaks of lightning on pieces of clothing that grow brighter whenever its wearer moves.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

What do you get when you combine a mom with a passion for fashion design with a son who’s a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at UC San Diego?

In the case of family entrepreneurs Rachel Merrill and Devon Merrill of San Diego, you get Lighted Clothing, a new company that is pushing boundaries in the field of illuminated fashion.

Since they started their collaboration about 18 months ago, the Merrills have co-created five fashion pieces that incorporate LED lights, fiber optics, hidden batteries and tiny computers that create streaks of lightning on a dress, moving bands of color and pictures on a vest and waves of glowing light on a skirt that grow brighter whenever its wearer moves.

Last month, the Merrills won a national “Textiles in Technology” award in the Surface Design Association’s Future Fabrication: Exhibition in Print 2017. They were among seven winners chosen from a field of 250 entries by jurors Richard Elliott, a textiles expert and professor at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, and Cathryn Hall, from the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Elliott said the concept of illuminated clothing has been around for at least five years, but the Merrills have taken the technology up a notch in a visually striking way.

“Their work really exemplifies the optimal combination of sheer fabric to diffuse the light, so it’s not so gaudy and bright, and the element of motion that mimics the movements of the wearer,” Elliott said. “What’s fascinating about their collaboration is that it’s cross-generational. I haven’t seen that before and their abilities are so compatible with one another.”

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