Smart Clothes

27 Jul

“I did not get this high in the clothing business by dreaming up fanciful or original garments,” said the wealthy old clothing manufacturer named Bryan Right to his only son and eventual heir, Daryl. “You will never go wrong, my boy, if you stick to providing the American buying public what they want, what they happen to be craving for. That is the secret of success in the business I’ve been in for over forty years. That was the rule that my own father, and his as well, followed when they laid the foundations of Right Clothing.

“I don’t see any reason for changing how I operate at this late date of my lucrative career in the rags racket, Daryl.”

The latter, a callow-looking young man, tall and lean as an athletic manikin, said nothing in reply. He merely looked at his father and nodded his long head three times. Daryl knew from experience when to keep silent and listen passively, obediently to his parent, the renowned entrepreneur on New York City’s Garment District.

“The designers can talk to me till they’re blue in the face,” concluded the multi-millionaire. “Clothes are nothing but clothing, and nothing more than that. Nobody can turn suits and dresses into carriers and holders of nano-electronic gadgetry. With all their science and technology, dreamers like Jason Dot are going to get slaughtered in the bloody competition of this industry of ours.”

Daryl watched as his father rose from his steel desk and exited his tiny working office. He was obviously glad that the older man had left him alone to his own convoluted personal thoughts.

A few blocks away, on busy 34th Street, stood the old brick building where the Dot Company designed and manufactured men’s and women’s casual but up-to-date apparel. Like a commanding general, Jason Dot directed every act and important decision of the successful firm. His huge, bulky figure strode among the designers and tailors, the mechanics and seamstresses, like a Roman Emperor of some sort. Only one person dared contradict or talk back to him, his daughter and only child, Mara.

“I am planning to go all out,” Jason informed her one day when he stopped by her little private office where she designed dresses for the company. “We are going to astonish the fashion world with the new computerized, internet connected suits for both men and women. Communication through the nano-threads of technologically advanced clothing will tie the individual to every existing worldwide web. We are going to be the pioneers in the field of electronic clothing that is perfectly mobile and transportable.

“Human living will never be the same again, Mara, once people begin to carry about memory and intelligence in the new smart clothing manufactured here at Dot.”

“You are very confident about it, then?” said the slim young woman, gazing across her drawing board at her parent.

Jason grinned like a cat that could tell the future. “This is going to produce the magic to make us number one in the industry. It will be the natural progression, a kind of evolution of what we are already putting on the market. It was only a couple of years ago that we were the pioneering innovators with electrical nanogenerators as part of the fabric of pieces of clothing. There were loads of buyers of our power suits. We have proven that the American public can learn to wear clothing that creates electrical charges from their movements, motions, stretching, or twisting.

“We put men and women into garments that are like batteries, that are able to power their electronic equipment and applications with personally generated piezoelectric energy. They can power all of their hand-held electronic equipment, tools, instruments, and media. This assures them of maximized personal freedom.”

All at once, the daughter frowned. “But won’t you be taking on an enormous amount of risk, father?”

He continued smiling at her. “You worry too much, Mara. The problems will be small enough to manage with ease. As long as those like us continue giving people what they want, our business will prosper. I have no doubts about that at all.”

“I pray that you are right,” mumbled Mara in a slow, low tone.

Mara had long realized that she was spending too much of her time at her design table, and this over-concentration was dulling the creativity of her imagination. She discovered that strenuous physical exercise and intense exertion restored freshness to her mind. Frequent visits to the private, exclusive gym located near Herald Square always reinvigorated her thinking, the young designer strongly believed. In addition, the place was an excellent site at which to meet up-and-coming athletic bachelors.

After learning about her father’s speculative plans to market smart clothes that contained e-fibers and were capable of accomplishing multimedia computing, the daughter decided that a fast workout was just the right thing to allow her to wind down and restore herself.

Twenty minutes of hard motion and stretching ended with Mara breathing heavily and deciding she had grown very thirsty.

An exotic fruit smoothie occurred to her as just the remedy she needed. A short, slow walk took the exhausted young woman to a little snack bar in a corner of the hall of treadmills. She took a tall stool seat and asked the female attendant for a mango-kiwi-passion fruit cooler. It was quickly made and served. As soon as she had her first refreshing long sip, Mara noticed that a tall male in running shirt and pants had sat down on her left side.

“That looks good there,” smiled Daryl Right. “What is it called?”

Mara turned her egg blue eyes on the stranger and told him what she was drinking.

“I think I’ll order the same thing,” laughed Daryl. “It looks quite inviting to me.”

The pair began to introduce themselves to each other and in a very short time became newly discovered friends.

Jason Dot sought publicity in the mass media about the adventurous new course he planned to take in clothing manufacture. He invited a number of reporters and editors from New York newspapers and broadcasting stations to a midtown Manhattan restaurant that he hired for demonstration and display of prototypes of the suits and dresses that he planned to offer the American buying public.

He stood behind a rostrum, gazing out at the men and women who had the power to shape popular perception of the new smart garments that his company was on the eve of producing.

“I have called all of you here today so that you can see what I am presenting to the world. This is often referred to as smart clothes, apparel that holds multimedia connections and computing capacity with its two-dimensional nano-threads. A molecular grid built into the cloth of these items will be able to provide five to thirty millivolts of electrical power per fiber, with the potential of satisfying any electronic instrument an individual may be carrying.

“I predict that clothing which applies the new science of fibertronics shall revolutionize the entire garment industry here in New York City and throughout the world. We are on the cusp of a new way of living for humanity. There will soon be organic polyvinyoidene materials that contain fibers of semiconductors like barium titanate.

“People will have available to them forms of ambient intelligence in what they wear. Smart textiles and fabrics open the door to infinite dimensions of communication and imaging.”

Jason Dot looked out at his audience of media persons in amazement. He realized that though an indifferent public speaker, the content of his presentation had mesmerized every person present.

His sky blue eyes caught sight of his triumphantly smiling daughter in the rear of the restaurant.

It did not take long for the media in New York City to recognize and celebrate the fact that the Dot Company had started an unforeseen mass fad for the new kind of garb for both men and woman. There had been nothing similar since the advent of personal computing and mobile telephony. The limitless prospects ahead for him thrilled the far-seeing Jason Dot.

“Everyone in the Garment District wants to follow our example and move into smart, electrified clothing that contains two-dimensional conductor-fibers,” he told Mara over the breakfast table in their exclusive apartment overlooking Central Park. “But I am confident that we can keep ahead of the rest of the pack in the rag business.”

“Do you expect that there will be many bankruptcies among those in the industry who refuse to keep up with the new trend and stay in the past?” As she said these words, Mara realized that she was referring to the firm of Daryl Right and his retrograde father, among many other clothing companies.

“Yes, there will be an avalanche of collapses and ruin for those who refuse to change. Not only will millions of Americans demand smart clothing, but foreign lands are going to jump in as well. Individuals will try to collect complete wardrobes with electronic fibers in them.

“I can predict the fall of dinosaurs like my old rival and enemy, Bryan Right.”

Feeling uneasy and embarrassed, Mara swiftly changed the subject under discussion to something completely different and distant.

Bryan Right had always been a business operator who valued possessing as much information as it was possible to obtain. All of his close associates and assistants were aware of that. They knew the value to themselves of reporting things about others in the organization to the man at the top and frequently did so.

That was the way that news about the dating patterns of Daryl came to the young man’s father. One of the latter’s trusted office secretaries mentioned that she had by chance come upon her boss’s son at a drama theater in the company of the daughter of Jason Dot, the individual who was setting the Garment District on fire with his venture into making and marketing smart clothes of all sorts.

What he learned about the social behavior of his son added even more worry to his troubled life. Why had Daryl kept such a connection secret from his parent? Had he done so out of some sense of embarrassment, or even shame?

The reason does not matter, Bryan told himself. Yet the fact that his son had some relationship to the daughter of his chief rival might open up certain undefined possibilities and potentials.

The father thought over and over about this surprising situation. He decided that it would be worthwhile to bring the matter up by informing Daryl that he knew what was going on out of sight.

He summoned his son to the personal office he still maintained in the manufacturing plant of Right Clothing. It was in the early evening and most of the work force of foreign immigrants had left for home somewhere in the city.

Bryan looked over at Daryl as soon as the lanky youth had entered. “Are you going out anywhere tonight?” he inquired. “Do you happen to have a date with anyone?” He looked trenchantly at his sons face with his shrewd, sharp dark brown eyes.

Daryl gave a look of surprise. “Yes, I had plans to see someone tonight for a little light dinner. Nothing big or too formal, though.”

The pair waited as if expecting something that would be hard to gauge or evaluate.

“I have heard an office rumor about the young woman you have been seeing, my boy.”

Daryl gave his father a blank look. “You know who she is, then?” he asked.

“What I am going to tell you is not going to be something you never heard me say before, my son.

“A person must always take care with the friends he makes. No one is perfectly trustworthy, even the best of us. There can be disloyalty and betrayal from even the closest of other persons. It is just the nature of our particular species, with all its human frailties.

“All that I am advising you is to take great care with this young woman who happens to be the daughter of Jason Dot, our family’s mortal enemy. There is no way that anyone can predict the evil she may be capable of committing.”

“I do not reveal any secrets to her, father,” said Daryl in a slow, heavy voice. “She has not probed me about anything in our business, not at all.”

Bryan grew visibly excited. “I know that you have enough intelligence not to do any harm to our business. But there are matters concerning her father’s firm and its operations that could be of immeasurable value to us, if we could find out about them.”

Daryl gaped in astonishment. “What are you getting at, father?”

The latter gave him a cynical smile. “You know what I have always tried to teach you. It is necessary to outwit the foe, by attacking him before he can do that to you. Never exclude any method or manner before deciding what must be done, my son.

“What if you were able to receive information from Miss Dot through clever conversation, when her guard was down? It would benefit our company immensely to learn the details of how fiber grids are woven into their company’s products. If we are going to enter the area of smart clothing, wouldn’t it be best to begin with the newest, most advanced technology? Why not avail ourselves of the know-how already there for the taking?”

Daryl seemed to be seeing deep into his father with unprecedented vision. There were ugly features to his mind and character that his son had never clearly noticed or perceived.

“I cannot promise specific, tangible results,” muttered the bewildered young man. “You can thrust me to do my best, I swear.”

A decisively new, different course had now become necessary, no doubt of that in the mind of Daryl Right.

First of all, he renounced any attempt to uncover any Dot Company secrets from Mara. The idea was revolting and disgusting to his conscience.

What he now determined to do was face Mara with the truth about what his father had commanded that he accomplish with her. This was not at all going to be easy to relate to her.

Daryl invited her to accompany him to a deluxe seafood restaurant near Battery Park, below the hubbub of busy Wall Street. He realized that her favorite variety of cuisine would be available there.

Only after the two of them had enjoyed meals of imported ceratodus did he begin to talk about the troubling subject that his father had raised for him.

“There is an important matter I have to talk to you about, Mara,” he began with a sense of a lump in his throat. “It has to do with your father’s sensational development of smart electronic clothing items. He and those who cooperate with him have flooded the market with advanced nanofabrics, no question of that.”

She smiled at him. “Yes, our firm grows richer and richer each day. But I’m unable to understand why your father is such a hidebound traditionalist and stays away from electronic fibronics. It will surely dominate the future of the garment industry, I should think.”

Daryl frowned, lowering his voice. “My father wishes me to become a sort of industrial spy, an informant in his behalf. The source of information that I am to bring him is to be you, dear Mara.” His brown eyes focused sharply on her face.

After a short silence, she asked him a question. “What are you planning to do?”

He answered slowly, making up his mind in a non-reversible direction.

“Early tomorrow, I am going to inform him that I intend to quit working for the firm. If he wishes, he can go ahead and disinherit me. I really don’t care about that. His reaction will be his own business. Do you understand what I am telling you, Mara?”

All at once, several tiny tears appeared in her egg blue eyes.

“I will talk to my father at once,” she said in a whisper. “He will have an opening for you with the Dot Company, I am certain. He will bring you in on the ground floor of what the clothing industry will become.”

He replied with difficulty. “I am different from my father,” he declared. “Trust me on that, my dear.”

“I have always known that, Daryl, so I have profound trust in you.”

Soon the two left the restaurant near the Battery. Both sensed that they knew what their futures held.


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