Unexpectedly Intriguing!
08 November 2019

When it comes to the world of fashion, maths are often relegated to a behind-the-scenes role. Designers use math to transform fabric into three-dimensional garments to fit anyone from say size 2 to size 3X while making the design affordable for consumers. The bottom line is there wouldn't be an apparel industry if fashionistas didn't also pay attention to the retail math needed to keep a business afloat.

Some designers also use math as inspiration in their designs. Senegal's Diarra Bousso incorporates a considerable amount of maths into her designs for her Diarrablu label. Here's a short video introduction to her work:

In the video, you can see how she applies combinatorics to develop a wide range of potential combinations and permutations from a limited number of pieces to appeal to consumers for her swimsuit line, a philosophy she extends to Diarrablu's convertible jumpsuit, which can be worn in 19 different ways to create a uniquely personal fashion statement from a single garment.

But the fashionable maths don't stop there. She also directly utilizes math equations to develop her print designs:

The main print for Diarrablu’s SS19 collection, titled “Ndar”, was obtained from the graphing of various equations (linear, quadratic and absolute value) to recreate randomized shapes. The shapes were then filled with colors and the patterns were cut into various shapes and went through geometric transformations such as dilations, rotations and reflections in order to create a final motif, printed on crepe and chiffon fabrics. The main equations are parabolic of the form y = ax² + bx + c.

Here's a sample of one of her print templates, where we again see the influence of combinatorics for enabling the variety of color patterns that might be developed from an otherwise simple sketch:

Diarrablu print template

Would you ever have expected something you might have had to sketch in a high school math class could become the foundation for something you could buy in a global fashion label's flagship store?

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