Film Review: The New Black (Sweden, 2014)

the next black

The Next Black is a fashion documentary that doesn’t look at what’s in style now; nor does it examine what will be fashionable in a year’s time. Instead, it looks around the corner at what is coming next by interviewing the pioneers and innovators within the industry who are using technology and new ideas to create garments that are stylish, environmentally sound and forward-thinking.

This 40 minute film is directed by David Dworsky and Victor Köhler, the pair who are also responsible for directing the documentary, PressPausePlay, which looked at how the digital revolution is impacting on the arts world. The duo use a combination of voiceovers, talking head interviews and footage of the actual outfits in action to tell the story with both black and white and colour film. Nancy Tilbury from Studio XO describes how fashion and technology intersect. This was done especially well with the 3D printed dress that Studio XO made for Lady Gaga, which also shot out bubbles.

Lady Gaga’s outfit may have looked amazing but it is Matt Hymers from adidas who is developing the smartest clothes. The company is working in consultation with various athletes worldwide to develop sports uniforms that monitor performance (such as heart rate). Suzanne Lee on the other hand, is helping create sustainable fabrics with cellulose-producing microbes in a practice that is closer to food and drink manufacture than producing traditional textiles.

Other areas helping with the sustainable fashion movement who are featured here include Sophie Mather from Yeh Group where dyes that use no water have been developed and Vice President of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia and activist, Rick Ridgeway who is leading a crusade by encouraging people to recycle and fix clothes. Another pair helping with the latter movement is Kyle Wiens and Brittany McCrigler from iFixit who show people how to sew and repair clothes.

The Next Black is all about challenging the idea of clothes, as some players in the fashion industry go through dramatic shifts towards sustainability and exploring new technologies and practices. The film is an interesting one that will have a broad appeal and impact, especially in this current environment of fast fashion and consumerism. This documentary is perhaps best summed up with the quote by the late Coco Chanel that is delivered in the opening scene, “Fashion passes, style remains”.

Review score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Next Black will be available for free on iTunes, Playstation, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, and Hulu from May 22.