INTERVIEW | ROSH GOVINDARAJ, FOUNDER, ISSARA

INTERVIEW | ROSH GOVINDARAJ, FOUNDER, ISSARA

Meet Issara – the fashion brand on a mission to make luxury-quality leather goods accessible, while engaging in socially conscious business practices. The startup, dreamt up by avid traveller and corporate escapee Rosh Govindaraj, produces stylish functional pieces for travel and work such as bagpacks, purses, clutches, briefcases, sleeves and wallets. To do so, Issara mixes minimalist designs and premium materials. Social responsibility is a key part of the startup’s business ethos. The brand works closely with artisans in India and Indonesia to produce beautiful, long-lasting leather accessories that benefit the communities making them. And the leather? It’s free from AZO and disperse dyes (water insoluble dyes that escape conventional wastewater treatment processes), while Issara’s accessories are nickle free too. We sat down with Rosh to chat about Issara’s new connected collection, the rise of the conscious consumer and why sustainability makes good business sense. Tell me a bit about your background. I started working full time after high school as I was accepted into a competitive cadetship program at KPMG. I worked full time while completing university. Then I moved to PwC and before I knew it 8 years had passed in a corporate career! While I’ve enjoyed my various roles (consulting, technology risk, tax) and the money was good, it wasn’t the fulfilling career I’d imagined. I desired more freedom and flexibility. I love to travel, far more than the average 4 weeks of annual leave will allow and really wanted to feel like the work I did was meaningful. I wanted to be proud of what I did for a living, run life on my terms and help...
INTERVIEW | MORITZ WALDEMEYER

INTERVIEW | MORITZ WALDEMEYER

We first met Moritz Waldemeyer while planning INTERLACED 2015. When we paid an introductory studio visit to the London-based designer – whose creative capabilities span across everything, from art and product design through to lighting, fashion and entertainment – we became keen followers of the world that he creates, built on a philosophy of playful experimentation. One of the most recent project of Waldemeyer, who has previously worked with fashion pioneer Hussein Chalayan, is what he calls ‘the most precious piece of electronic couture to date.’ The Topaz Catsuit is an elegant body suit covered in illuminated Topaz stone with subtle waves of animated light running through the gem stones. The work is the result of a collaboration between Moritz Waldemeyer Studio, Deborah Milner and Ostro Minerals and was created for fashion icon Daphne Guinness, who wore the dress during her appearance at the Natural History Museum celebrating the unveiling of the world’s largest cut Topaz. We caught up with Moritz to talk more about the project. Tell me a bit about the Topaz Catsuit. How did the idea come about? We were approached by Deborah Milner‘s studio with the idea to make a Topaz outfit to be worn by Daphne Guinness during the unveiling of the world’s largest cut Topaz at the Natural History Museum. The design came from Deborah and we helped with the detailing of the Topaz integration. We worked closely with Deborah and Ostro Minerals to find a solution for the floating gemstones. You describe the garment as the most precious piece of electronic couture to date. What are the technical aspects of the outfit? Does...
SEE BENJAMIN JOHN HALL’S HI-TECH SHOE COLLECTION IN LONDON

SEE BENJAMIN JOHN HALL’S HI-TECH SHOE COLLECTION IN LONDON

Avant-garde international award winning footwear designer Benjamin John Hall is bringing back his newest work to London. Laboratory 12 is an experimental seven-piece collection of highly functional footwear involving 3-D printed components and embedded technology combined with artisanal shoemaking. With the help of his collaborators, Nanda Khaorapapong, Richard Beckett and Martyn Carter, from the fields of wearable computing, material science and 3-D printing, the shoes are operated wirelessly from afar to perform tasks such as detecting radiation, recording sound, releasing a gas and even remote ignition. The technology is covert and skilfully embedded inside each of the shoe’s designs, resulting in a complex yet seamless marriage of hand-made shoemaking and advanced technologies. How far should or would our government go to secure its best interests? Laboratory 12 takes its name from the secret poison laboratory of the KGB and was inspired primarily by the high profile assassination of Alexander Livinenko, who in 2006 was poisoned with the radioactive material Polonium. This led to the question: How far should or would our government go to secure its best interests? ‘We did deeper analysis of covert operational techniques used by security services to manipulate and control certain individuals. Many of the shoes were inspired by or reference these techniques,’ shared with us Hall. Each of the seven pairs of shoes highlights a specific notion or concept unearthed through extensive research into documented tactics used by various security agencies worldwide. For example, the Zersetzung platform sandals house a mechanism that can be activated by sending a text message to a defined phone number: the letter ‘x’ sets off an atomiser emanating a...
INTERVIEW | CHARESE EMBREE, CO-FOUNDER, FYND.ME

INTERVIEW | CHARESE EMBREE, CO-FOUNDER, FYND.ME

Retailers are gasping for air: Neiman Marcus is seeking a buyer. Macy’s just suffered its largest quarterly sales decline since the Great Recession. Nordstrom is buying a stakes in software to boost sales. Retail businesses are yet to grasp the ins and outs of tech. The latest from the digital side of things is the chatbot hype and forward-thinking brands are jumping on board to stay afloat. One such player in the space is NYC startup Fynd.me, which is connecting shoppers to retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. Since launching its personal concierge online shopping site in May, Fynd.me also released its very own chabot and it’s driving serious sales. Fyndbot is able to chat with users via Facebook Messenger on the fly to help them find exactly what they are looking for from big-name retailers. We spoke with Fynd.me’s co-founder Charese Embree about the way brands are using this emerging technology to differentiate among competitors. Hi Charese! To start off, can you tell me a bit about your background?  I have a Merchandise Marketing degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and have been working in the retail industry for the last 15 years. For the past 10 years I’ve focused on luxury retail and worked for companies including Agent Provocateur, Valentino, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Neiman Marcus, Tory Burch and DVF. I spent my days helping others find their perfect item. I’d learn their shopping preferences by showing my customers a few items to better understand what they were looking for, and started to identify what they liked when they saw it. I founded Fynd.Me to bring my personal...
INTERVIEW | KATE UNSWORTH, CEO, VINAYA

INTERVIEW | KATE UNSWORTH, CEO, VINAYA

Kate Unsworth needs no introduction to the fashion tech community. Since 2013, she has been using technology to help people find digital balance. Back then, under the name Kovert Designs, Unsworth and her team unveiled a smart connected jewelry, Altruis, which is undoubtedly created with the fashion-conscious crowd in mind. Last November, Kovert Desings rebranded to VINAYA and split the company into a Lab and a Studio. The researchers in the Lab look at academic papers and scientific articles, boil down the main findings and present them to the Studio product team, who use them as a guide for VINAYA’s upcoming products. And it looks like this approach has proven successful. When the startup announced the launch of its second product– the first emotion tracker – it smashed its crowdfunding goal of $100k in 41 hours. We sat down with Kate to hear more about the inspiration behind Zenta and trends in fashion, tech and wellbeing. What triggered the creation of Zenta? Our first product, Altruis, was all about using technology to help you silence the noise and still stay connected to the most important things and people in your life. A year in, we started digging deeper and asking “Why are we doing this? Why do we care about helping people disconnect from their phones?” What it really came down was emotional wellbeing. So, for the past 18 months we’ve been diving deeper into that and what we’ve created is the first emotion tracker that comes to market. It’s really cutting edge technology and the reason it doesn’t exist yet is because the technology hasn’t been advanced enough...
ONE YEAR ON: THE PROGRESS OF GOOGLE JACQUARD AND LEVI’S

ONE YEAR ON: THE PROGRESS OF GOOGLE JACQUARD AND LEVI’S

Technology giant Google has come a long way in the realm of fashion tech. After learning the hard way that you can’t just collaborate with a designer once to give a tech invention trendy status, the company has devoted significant resources into getting right the blend of fashion and technology. A testament to that commitment was last year’s announcement of Project Jacquard in partnership with clothing company Levi’s. To recap, Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms, thus enabling everyday objects such as clothes or furniture to be transformed into interactive surfaces. At its annual I/O conference last week, Google and Levi’s shared progress of the project and announced their first interactive item – the Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket. “This is going to be absolutely game-changing for fashion design.” “I am so fascinated by this project, and I’m really excited to see what Google creates. Through the utilization of conductive threads, it will be possible to create textiles that can recognize computation interfaces, opening up countless opportunities for further development of fashion tech,” said fashion tech designer Alexis Walsh when we reached out for a comment on the project. “This is going to be absolutely game-changing for fashion design.” HOW IT WORKS The fabric includes conductive yarns, made of a combination of natural yarns and metallic alloys. The jacket includes a detachable smart tag, which makes it possible to function. While the tag needs to be removed to charge or when the wearer needs to wash the jacket, the actual fabric of the garment...