Blog by Nicole Dahlstrom
Women of Wearables Bay Area gathered wearable innovators from across the globe for an informal round table discussion on scaling and sustainability held at The Garage, Microsoft. The founder of Women of Wearables, Marija Butkovic, along with the WoW New York Ambassador, Amanda McIntyre-Chavis, joined the founders of Studio Twins Paris, Nancy and Lou-Anne Boehm, in a live stream portion that welcomed their insights on the wearable ecosystems in London, Paris, and New York.
The Garage is a space equipped with a wide variety of tools from standard sewing machines to 3D printers. Kitty Yeung, Senior Program Manager and Creative Technologist at Microsoft, explained that the space is designated as a maker's space for Microsoft employees interested in creating, and that she is ready to offer the space as a resource and innovation hub for the group to come together again and work collaboratively on projects.
There was a lot of excitement in the room as the group included some major players in the ecosystem that rarely cross paths in their day to day work. Technology experts joined fashion design experts and everyone in between, all to solve the problems that exist in the emerging field of wearables.
Kyle Chan, designer, maker, and instructor, shared several insights the fashion world has to offer to wearable innovators. She even shared a graphic that she co-created with Jen Costillo that clearly maps the intersection of functionality, comfort and durability for wearable technology that is both fashionable and useful.
Chan also connected with Yvonne Cagle, a NASA Astronaut who brought along her current wearable project to share with the group, and they both exchanged ideas about the structure and design.
We caught up with one attendee, Sahrye Cohen, co-founder and chief designer of the tech couture design group, Amped Atelier, after the event. Cohen had this to say about the future of wearables:
"Wearable technology can make functional, useful, and beautiful garments that become an interface, connecting people to other people and promoting meaningful interactions between individuals and the whole of the world around them. Clothes become another part of the digital world, interacting with smartphone applications and social media views and giving onlookers a glimpse into your personality, your mood, and even your thoughts."
Cohen and her cofounder, Hal Rodriguez, created Amped Atelier in order to "design projects that combine electronics with modern fabrication technology such as 3D printers and laser cutters to produce wearable projects that a few years ago were only accessible to major designers and fashion houses."
With their new book, “Make It, Wear It: Wearable Electronics for Makers, Crafters, and Cosplayers”, the creative authors and cofounders want to "teach makers, costumers and cosplayers to use home machines and shared makerspaces, to make personalized clothing and accessories that bring the imaginings of a science fiction future to today."
Despite the obvious impact that innovation in the wearable space could offer to the fields of health and wellness, one of the major pain points for the individual creators is the difficult process of having their creations manufactured, and especially at scale. The participants at the round table discussed how they currently work with small scale manufacturers who are interested in trying something new and integrating technology into their standard garment production process. Long term solutions were also explored and a clear need for collaboration between individual creators was discovered.
Attendees left the meetup feeling empowered by being part of a global think tank for wearable innovators. The Garage at Microsoft offers a perfect space to come together and collaborate again in the future. With the support of Women of Wearables and Studio Twins Paris, this was no doubt the first in a series of meetings that will take place to support wearable innovators and to connect the entire ecosystem for the emerging field.
If you're interested in participating in the next Wearable Innovators Meetup, you can join Women of Wearables Bay Area community and be a part of the movement. Sign up for our local newsletter, or talk to the global network in real time on our dedicated Slack Channel.
This post was written by Nicole Dahlstrom, Women of Wearables Ambassador in San Francisco, USA. She has been providing marketing and project management services to non profits for the past six years. Passionate about women's health and fem tech, Nicole decided to leverage her network of established feminine health companies, industry professionals, and leaders in the women's health space to develop a network of support for founders of female health focused tech startups called FemTech Collective. Their mission is to shape the future of healthcare through technology that meets the needs of women. Connect with Nicole via Twitter: @nicoledahlstrom or LinkedIn: Nicole Dahlstrom