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What will humans wear on Mars?

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

18 Oct 2019


The ‘Moving to Mars’ exhibition, which opens today, October 18, at London’s Design Museum, explores humans ambitious to live on the red planet and explores some potential design solutions, including a full-scale prototype Mars habitat and the high-fashion clothing that the Martian pioneers might be wearing.

The exhibition is structured into five parts: Imagining Mars, The Voyage, Survival, Mars Futures and Down to Earth, covering everything from the design of new spacesuits capable of keeping astronauts safe during the seven-month voyage to Mars, to what it might look like to live on mars inside inflatable living pods, as well as farming and clothing.

When it comes to Martian fashion, London fashion label Raeburn, with it’s remade, reduce, and recycle, launched its spring/summer 2020 ‘New Horizon’ collection, including pieces remade from lightweight insulating material designed by NASA for space exploration, including solar heat blankets and parachutes, taking inspiration from the “make-do-and-mend” approach on Mars, in response to the lace of resources on the planet.

“There will be limited amount of resources” explained Raeburn performance director Graeme Raeburn to FashionUnited. “The idea is that New Horizon is all about repurposing materials that might already be up there and reinterpreting them for another life, as there is no restock coming.”

Raeburn added: “It is also about asking questions, what waste material can be repurposed from the journey, will there be a sewing machine on board, to make repairs, as well as the fact that clothes are a personal intimate expression and can become a hobby/craft project.”

These pieces are displayed in the full-scale Mars habitat, designed by London-based architecture firm Hassell as part of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, which will allow visitors to walk around, sit on the 3D printed furniture, as well as try on the Raeburn designed clothing using material designed by NASA for space exploration and engineered for temperature regulation on earth, in space and on the red planet.

Raeburn showcases SS20 ‘New Horizon’ collection as part of Mars exhibition at Design Museum

Other highlights include the ‘On Mars Today’ multisensory experience, which allows visitors to experience what conditions on Mars are like today from the radiation to the freezing temperatures, the lack of oxygen and the frequent dust storms, including a Mars-inspired dusty mineral scent ‘Utopia Planitia’ from French perfumer, Nicolas Bonneville of Firmenich that has been made especially for the exhibition.

While designer and researcher Anna Talvi showcases her lightweight, flexible “wearable gym” garments, which have been designed to stretch the wearer's muscles to prevent them from wasting away in low gravity. In addition, the prototype NDX-1 spacesuit designed specifically for use on Mars, is on display for the first time. Created by the University of North Dakota, the spacesuit is designed to withstand the planet's gruelling conditions with soft fabric-joints improve mobility, when compared to the suits used on the moon.

‘Moving to Mars’ exhibition runs until February 23, 2020, at the Design Museum in London.

Images: courtesy of the Design Museum - Raeburn models in the exhibition by photographer Felix Speller, NDX-1 spacesuit by photographer Ed Reeve