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...
INTERVIEW | SAIF SIDDIQUI, FOUNDER, ISHU

INTERVIEW | SAIF SIDDIQUI, FOUNDER, ISHU

Ever wished that your friend, little brother, stranger wouldn’t take a picture of you? Bad hair day, hangover or just not feeling your best. Whatever the reason, sometimes we can’t control the digital content people put of us online. In a world where the choice to remain anonymous is no longer a choice, the ISHU scarf comes handy. Officially launched in October 2015, the product combines fashionable prints with technological functionality that black out the wearer. Think of it as an invisibility cloak. Whenever you don’t want your picture to be taken just wrap yourself with the ISHU and the final image will be just a black silhouette. Five months into the market and the ISHU has gathered a bunch of celebrity fans. Nick Jonas, Nina Dobrev, Cameron Diaz and Paris Hilton have already been spotted wearing it. We sat down with Saif Siddiqui, ISHU’s founder to chat fashion tech, privacy and entrepreneurship. Tell me about your background and how you started the ISHU? I came up with the concept six years ago. Within those six years, I joined IMG William Morris, where I worked for four and a half years and also started my own company – Access All Brands – an online product placement platform which helps brands reach celebrities and influencers. Five months ago I launched the first ISHU scarf. It’s an antiflash scarf, which means if someone takes a picture of you, your face blacks out so you don’t see anyone in the picture apart from the scarf. Do you have technological background? No, I have no professional background in anything that I’ve ever done....
INTERVIEW | DR. BEN WILD, FASHION HISTORIAN

INTERVIEW | DR. BEN WILD, FASHION HISTORIAN

We first met Dr. Ben Wild back in January. On a chilly Thursday morning, the fashion historian packed a room in Shoreditch House with early risers who came to hear his talk, Heritage: A paradox and a potential, part of the monthly event series Rising Minds. His captivating presentation introduced us to the notion of neoteny, which refers to the persistence of juvenile traits in adult (older) members of a species. The guest lecturer at Condé Nast College of Fashion & Design and Sotheby’s Institute of Art also considered the appeal of Heritage for companies and consumers throughout luxury and how to create it in a contemporary context. Needless to say his talk left us wanting more. Today we speak with Dr. Ben Wild about the changing state of the fashion industry, key historical moments from the last 15 years and his newly published book. Tell us about yourself and how you went into fashion history. I have always been interested in history and how people dress, so I suppose there was a strong likelihood that I would look to make connections between the two areas in my career. I am more interested in the ‘why’ of people’s dress, so an academic route was always more appealing to me than something more practical, but I have been fortunate to work with fashion brands and entrepreneurs who want to share the history and heritage of their products and services with wider audiences. My research and lecturing enables me to reach people who are keen to understand how fashion’s past continues to exercise a strong influence over its present, and future. What...