Henry Holland's shoppable runway, Chromat's bio-responsive garments, and more.

Global fashion weeks in recent years have become not just a showcase for design talent, but also a window onto future trends at the intersection of fashion, technology and retail. Here we spotlight three designers who pushed the envelope at this season’s shows.

Henry Holland and Visa Europe

In the age of Instagram, the long gap between the burst of publicity around a new collection and the opportunity to buy it makes less and less sense. Brands like Burberry have created “shoppable runways” that allow show attendees to preorder certain pieces from a collection in advance, but the process can take well over a month.

Henry Holland's Spring 16 collection

At London Fashion Week this season, designer Henry Holland took the concept further in a collaboration with Visa Europe. The designer distributed NFC-enabled rings to front-row attendees and gave them an opportunity to approach models at the end of the show, tapping their rings to purchase selected items. Payments were processed and the items were packaged and delivered as the attendees exited.

“The idea was to take all of the obstacles in the way of buying goods consumers love, like having to queue up, and moving them out of the way,” Jon Downing, innovation partner for emerging payments at Visa Europe Collab, told Forbes. “It’s about taking the current friction out of the payment experience. We did it with a bit of theatre and magic for tonight to illustrate what could happen in the future.”

Henry Holland's Spring 16 collection

Chromat and Intel

Designer Becca McCharen, who uses her background in architecture to design “structural experiments for the human body,” collaborated with Intel on two tech-enabled pieces for Momentum, her SS16 collection shown at New York Fashion Week.

The first, the Adrenaline Dress, uses an Intel Curie Module to measure body heat, perspiration and respiration, which can indicate elevated levels of stress. The readings prompt the dress to change shape under stressful conditions, allowing greater comfort for the wearer. The second item, the Aeros Sports Bra, also senses sweat levels and opens special 3D printed vents to offer extra ventilation.

The designs reference the concept of biomimicry, which sees fashion as a biological extension of the wearer. “It was designed to respond autonomously and move like living things do in our natural world,” commented Todd Harple, an experience engineer at Intel’s New Devices Group, on Intel’s blog.

Iris Van Herpen

Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen is known for her 3D printed concept pieces, and she continued to experiment with medium for her SS16 collection. This time, her presentation at Paris Fashion Week centered on a model lying as a dress is woven on top of her using a combination of laser cutting, hand weaving and 3D printing.

In contrast to some of Van Herpen’s previous 3D printing experiments, which could produce hard and brittle designs, the effect this time was delicate and flexible.

“The beautiful potential of plants and other organisms to form living architecture inspired me to make a collection that is tangled like a maze around the body,” Van Herpen wrote in her notes for the show. “Inspiration came from the way plants and their roots grow, and how roots have been used to grow living bridges in the forests of India.”