frog x Machina
Human impact is causing unprecedented damage: from rising temperatures and humidity to more frequent and powerful natural disasters. In the face of widespread chaos, the climate crisis must be thought of like any other design problem: as a series of challenges to be understood and solved.
We’re on the brink of a new era of wearables. Soon, clothing and technology will become indistinguishable. In collaboration with wearable technology brand, Machina, we’re navigating the big topic of climate change using one of the more intimate product categories as a starting point: clothing. Our capsule collection “Clothed in Chaos,” includes four looks, and reimagines clothing as an extended support system offering protection from new and unknown elements.
This project involves an approach to creative provocation that highlights frog’s renowned capability to imagine and illustrate disruptive futures together with its clients, including celebrated speculative design explorations into selfie drones, moon scooters and augmented reality face masks.
Launched at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023, “Clothed in Chaos” explores our climate-change affected future through provocations crafted at the intersection of design, artificial intelligence, fashion and storytelling.
A problem shared
Our collaboration emerged from a shared sense of urgency to meet the climate crisis head on. We wanted to create speculative fashion designs that raised awareness and debate about the realities of a not-too-distant future. For this reason, we felt that the designs should explore a more dystopic future reality and begin to imagine how clothing could help us survive in that world.
Four is a magic number
The climate crisis is a vast topic, and to ensure messaging doesn't get lost in the noise, the right framing is crucial. The team decided to navigate the potential outcomes of the climate crisis according to the primary material elements: fire, air, earth and water—a familiar and instantly recognizable four-part structure. From there we created provocations and prompts to help us explore “what if?” scenarios, then used generative AI to expand into rough visions and first design impulses.
Entering the material world
From the initial low fidelity renders created by AI, through development and iterations, the team moved into making high fidelity renders and finally, clothing production. The resulting collection includes four looks that each respond to extreme conditions and scenarios related to the four elements. We exhibited the collection at Cannes Lions 2023, including a media showcase with insights into the creation process.
Furious Heat and Hostility
The garment is a transformable piece; in outdoor situations the user can respond to different heat conditions, adapting the hoodie in order to partially or fully cover the head as needed. A set of two micro fans work to create a bubble of cooler air inside the garment around the lower waist. When the wearer wants to take advantage of natural ventilation, the loose skirt encourages air flow. The skirt has a mechanism that can be pulled to create pants, bringing the fabric closer to the leg.
Made from a water repellent fabric, this garment can help with the constant precipitation that comes with storms. In these scenarios, wind will also create disruption for everyday movement, so the jacket comes with hidden straps that can be pulled out to use as anchors on fixed objects around you. The straps can also be used to secure family members like children and the elderly in order to help protect them from danger.
Borderlands of Civilization
We have created an all-conditions ready jacket that has a shelter attached to the back that can be extended when needed. The shelter has a quick and easy build mechanism that only needs three interactions to get it ready to use. The colors used in this scenario are dark and non-reflective to keep the user as hidden as possible. Graphics that serve as mental notes are attached to this garment, including two instructions on how to find True North and True South depending on the hemisphere the user is traveling in.
Watery World Order
The garment is made from a fully water repellent fabric from neck to toes. Users can remove the sleeves and gloves from the suit in situations where the upper body won't necessarily be in contact with water, perhaps indoor scenarios where the wearer needs to move freely. The suit includes an inner cotton tank top that helps the user breathe and keep away the deep moisture from their body to prevent fungi and other external health factors.
‘Clothed in Chaos’ represents the kind of creative exercise that leaders around the globe need to embrace to internalize the reality that sustainability is already a business imperative.
Speaking about real conditions, in real places, needs to substitute this distant image of a “dystopian” outcome that won't necessarily affect our generation, only the next ones. People are already living in these conditions, and humans are already dying in them.
Meeting Machina’s goal to merge fashion and technology in functional and visually appealing ways, the collaboration explores and imagines how high-tech garments and wearables can be braided with progressive new mindsets. We want to show ways to protect humans around the world from what may become a more hostile planet—while contributing to protecting the planet itself. We continue to explore the power of provocation in how we think, work and engage with our clients, anticipating the future together with them and together taking bold steps to embrace change and opportunity.
The “Clothed in Chaos” collection debuted at Cannes as part of our “End of the World vs End of the Month” content program dedicated to sustainability. frog will be joined by our partner, the UN SDG Action Campaign, with commentary from special guest Marina Ponti, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign. Together we will discuss the communications campaign that the UN SDG Action Campaign is launching in collaboration with frog. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are an urgent call for action by all countries, developed and developing, in a global partnership. We believe that the “Clothed in Chaos” collection provides a platform and jumping off point to further the conversation in this space.
NYC photoshoot credits
Kebei Li (photography & art direction), Krishna Rammohan (design support) and Denice King and Drake Ryans (models).
We’re presented with the opportunity to weave deeper meaning into clothing design. It’s time to arrive at the place where the hard truths about climate science meet creativity.
Check out the Designing for Hazard-Proof Living
report to go deeper into the themes raised in this collaboration.