"Your day-to-day life has become so much more dependent on this device," Christopher Bevans says over the phone between casting appointments for his upcoming New York Fashion Week: Men's presentation for Dyne. "How could your apparel, your outfit, your look work in conjunction with your life?" He's recalling a time when he flew from Portland to New York City without his wallet. Luckily, he had his passport on hand for his flight and he managed to depend on his phone for payments, staying in touch and getting around for the duration of his trip.
"Why does my phone have to have that data? Why can't my apparel have that access, too?" Bevans continues. "Why can't I pay for something by swiping my sleeve, or simply being in a position for the reader to read what I have on and know it's me?"
This type of innovation is what Bevans explores with Dyne, his athleisure-leaning, function-and-fit-focused apparel line. Each garment is embedded with a quarter-sized chip with NFC or near-field communication technology — the same connectivity that powers mobile paying services like Apple Pay and Google Wallet — which is known to work faster than Bluetooth. It's also often compared to RFID, another technology heavily used in the fashion industry for identifying counterfeit goods and interactive fitting rooms. What sets NFC apart from RFID, however, is its ability to store data and share it with Android-based devices.
With Dyne's NFC-activated pieces, wearers can learn more about a garment using their phone, view lookbooks and videos, plus listen to a playlist. "We're finding it very useful to communicate abroad with sales associates where English might not be their first language," says Bevans, as Dyne's biggest retail presence is currently in Japan. In addition to NFC technology, the brand's offerings are made up of high-end, smart fabrics with antimicrobial and wicking properties, waterproof fibers and reflectivity. Long-sleeve shirts go for $195 while sweatpants start at $245 and jackets can go for more than $500.
Dyne was a concept that Bevans incubated for a while before he launched the line in late 2014. "It's really everything about my love of sport, technology and fabrics coming all together in one brand," he says. "I wanted to make clothes that are functional but still very tailored and stylish — and that you can still wear it out and still be on the pitch if you want to." The grandson of a seamstress and the son of a professional soccer player, tailoring and sports are in Bevans's blood. He grew up in Rochester, always surrounded by sewing machines and fabrics, and apprenticed with a tailor while he was in high school. When Bevans moved to New York City, one of his first jobs was at the famed Mood Fabrics, where he learned about textiles, sourcing and how to put fabric stories together. By the early 2000s, he earned a design gig at Sean John (where he met designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne who would later found Public School), eventually moving on to work with celebrity clientele, like Kanye West, while at Rocawear.
By 2006, Bevans was poached by Nike and moved to Portland to design direct its global urban apparel, spearheading projects with athlete greats like LeBron James and Roger Federer, as well as starting the global brand's subdivision Nike Sportswear, or NSW. Currently, Bevans runs Dyne alongside a slew of consulting projects out of his own design studio in Portland. "I really enjoy being there and I love the outdoors that Portland has to offer," he says. "We're testing a lot of our gear in all of the conditions out there. We have snow in the mountains, it rains and we have hot summers. We really push the limit."
On a snowy Tuesday afternoon, Bevans made his New York Fashion Week: Men's debut, fittingly held at the Samsung 837 space. Models showed off Dyne's fall 2017 collection while each holding a Samsung phone to highlight the clothing's NFC capabilities. Some models also had what appeared to be flash tattoos — though they looked less flowery and more like the type of gold outlines you'd see on computer chips. It's a collaboration with DuoSkin, a temporary on-skin user interface from students of the MIT Media Lab where Bevans is a director's fellow under Joi Ito. Similarly to Dyne's garments, the metallic tattoos can share data with your phone via NFC technology.
Despite its smart capabilities, don't label Dyne as wearable tech, which Bevans says is a phrase that's "thrown around a lot" in the fashion industry. "Wearable tech should seamlessly integrate in our lifestyle versus being an added feature that impedes your daily movements and things that you do," he says. "I see it as clothes becoming more intuitive to our surroundings, our wireless devices, our homes, our cars. We're challenging textiles to become smarter. The time is right for us and what we're doing."
See Dyne's fall 2017 collection from New York Fashion Week: Men's in the gallery below.