Interview by Michelle Hua @MadeWithGlove
Thushara Sabreen holds a Master of Arts from London College of Fashion (UAL) in Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Distinction). She is a specialised product developer with a creative vision for innovation, recipient of the Fashion Matters award from the London College of Fashion, selected candidate for Project Jacquard (Google) and collaborated with UCL (University College London) on actualising her project proposal on wearable technology.
Thushara's background in Product Development and career training was gained working with international brands, manufacturers and retailers such as The Limited – Victoria’s Secret (US), Brandix (Sri Lanka) Li & Fung (UK). Her experience in wearable technology, fashion, retail, product development and understanding of different market needs offer a unique set of skills. Thushara thrives on cross-disciplinary approach to innovative, sustainable strategies for business development.
What is your idea and how did it come about?
Tinker is an interactive massage shoe created to:
Aid tired feet to help relaxation;
Provide a customised massage experience controlled via a mobile phone; and
Designed for comfort, healing and relaxation.
The project developed during my MA at London College of Fashion was a collaborative opportunity with University College London (UCL). This, spurred my interest to explore the field of wearable technology by experimenting with the potential of fusing craft with technology. My time spent in Sri Lanka (made possible by the Fashion Matters Award) helped develop the project by identifying the need to sustain heritage and traditional skills but with new innovative ways in development. My final project involved creating a pair of ballet shoes with the integration of technology for comfort combined with beautiful artisan indigenous fabrics. I wanted to create an aesthetically beautiful product which benefits the user, where value is offered in the form of comfort and convenience for the user.
What are the challenges in your wearable tech start up?
Seeking out a team with multi-disciplinary skills across design and tech, access to funding and really getting to know the market: the readiness of consumer acceptance, is this the right timing?
What trends are you seeing in wearable tech?
A lot of wearables in the present market are very gimmicky and shortsighted and there are many misconceptions as to what is wearable tech. The market is beginning to see the gradual evolvement from being gadget based to seamless integration of technology i.e. within fabrics as Googles project jacquard is just a stepping stone of unexplored possibilities. Smart garments and IoT is an area for wider scoping and we will begin to see a lot of new and interesting developments emerging in the near future specially looking across other sectors.
Do you have a mentor? If so, how did you find him/her and what value does he/she give you?
Presently, I don't have a mentor, but I am collaborating on a project with the Digital Anthropology Lab at London College of Fashion. The opportunity to engage and explore with an interdisciplinary team offers invaluable learning and insights for further exploration.
Who are your inspirational women in fashion tech?
For me personally, being closely linked with the Digital Anthropology Lab and London College of Fashion, I would say Lynne Murray, (director of DAL) for her unique sense of direction and thought provoking intuitive insights.
I wish there are many more women involved in fashion tech and hopefully through WOW Women of Wearables we will begin to see the emergence of a lot of inspirational women out there.
What are your plans for next year?
I am looking forward for the launch of Tinker next year and a few other developments are in the pipeline.
What do you need to help you achieve your goals?
It will be nice to build a team, build connections with manufacturers who have an understanding of wearable technology and of course secure funding!
Linkedin: Thushara Sabreen