Image credit: Brooke Roberts
Wearables London and INTERLACED came together this month to host an event exploring the intersection of fashion and technology to enhance user experiences. On Wednesday evening, we gathered in the stunning Kingsway Hall Hotel for an inspiring discussion on the latest in the fashiontech space.
The event kicked off with Dr. Camille Baker, media artist, curator and researcher, focused on soft circuits, DIY electronics for smart garments and haptic interfaces for performance and mobile media. Baker went back some 15 years and shared some of her initial projects, as well as her latest work, which looks into ways in which performers can benefit from wearables. ‘Dancers are the hyper users of this technology,’ said the UCA reader. She referred to her MIND Touch project, which looked into new understandings of the sensations of ‘liveness’ and ‘presence’ that may emerge in participatory networked performance, using mobile phones and wearables.
Another direction in which we can look at wearables is by fusing technology and biology, said Baker. As examples of this, she pointed to Giulia Tomasello’s Bioconductive Skin and Future Flora projects as well as the work of Anna Dumitriu and Kasia Molga.
Next up, award-winning digital knitwear designer Brooke Roberts spoke about the need for us to see technology as an enabler and not the whole purpose of fashiontech products. Roberts, who has over a decade of experience as a diagnostic radiographer within the NHS, uses inspiration from scan images of the brain and sinuses to create knitwear using the latest digital knitting technology and yarns. This truly shows how fashion and technology can exist in symbiosis. The designer mentioned Google’s Project Jaquard, Nike’s Flyknit and Y3 x Virgin Galactic project as examples of work that combine fashion, technology and the user experience in a complementary way.
Marija Butkovic, founder of Kisha, shared her entrepreneurial story on starting out in the wearables space. ‘We didn’t want to create something without there being the need for such product. We wanted to solve a problem people have,’ said Butkovic. Kisha, which is a 100% wind proof and corrosion proof, connects to the user’s phone and notifies them if they get away from their brolli. On questions from the audience about startups in the space Butkovic said that ‘fashion is old-fashioned’ and that startups, unlike heritage fashion companies, can be as agile in their practices. She also advised other entrepreneurs not to rush their operations. ‘We had many retailers which wanted to get Kisha into their stores but we don’t want to enter retail until we are fully ready for it. And that takes time – to build our brand, to make the product better, to market it successfully.’
Following Marija was Albert Kim, founder of VR / AR software company Double Me. Double Me provides capturing technology to generate VR / AR content for augmented reality headsets such as Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap. Their first foray into fashion is a big one. The company is collaborating with designer Martine Jarlgaard for an exciting holographic fashion show at the W Hotel during the upcoming London Fashion Week. What’s more, Double Me is also opening their studio here in August, which will be free for the public and let people use Double Me’s technology to convert themselves into dynamic 3D models in real-time.
We hope the evening was informative and inspired you all. We would also like to thank Marks and Clerk for providing our gorgeous venue at the Kingsway Hall Hotel.
Head to Wearables London meetup page for more of their upcoming events.