FASHION FOR THE FUTURE
It is the last couple of seasons that the wearable tech industry has been sizzling with excitement and energy. Enter Interlaced, an organization dedicated to inspire, educate and communicate the developments around the next wave of fashion. Through insightful events, industry reports, educational activities and news content, the team aspires to bridge the gap between the industry, academia and the wider public by bringing them together and acting as a catalyst for consumer adoption of wearable technology fashion, smart clothing and apparel. We caught up with Kristina Dimitrova, founder and CEO, to discuss the team’s impressions on their first event and, the importance of education for the sake of the success of the future of smart fashion.
How did you come together?
The three of us knew each other because we are from the same city back home, but never thought we will be doing something like this together as our backgrounds are quite different from one another. We started working closely together at the end of 2014, when we decided to combine our skills and work towards this concept that can make a difference in the area of fashion and technology.
What is is about wearable tech that you find interesting?
The evolution in the space – how it is moving from accessories like smartwatches and fitness trackers, that you can live without, to technology being integrated into clothes which is something each and every one of us need.
Tell us a few words about the event you just hosted. What has been the feedback, and how did you select the guest speakers, the venue, etc?
INTERLACED 2015 had two distinctive parts. The first part of the day was a conference with panel discussions and keynote talks around the future of fashion from leading experts, academics and designers. The second part of the event was a fashion tech catwalk where we showed both fashion tech products (garments and accessories) as well as original fashion brands.
The feedback so far has been overwhelming – people are asking us when we are doing the next one already, and saying they had no idea this was the first event we’re hosting. They thought we’ve been doing these for years!
Of course, we know there is so much room for improvement and we will be working to make these events much better.
How is the fact that you are based in London helping your business?
London has a great potential of becoming the fashion tech capital of the world, because the crowd here really understands the value of aesthetics. I think creatives here know that your wearable doesn’t necessarily have to do something, it can just complement your lifestyle or personality. London is also better connected to other fashion tech hubs such as Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.
How easy will it be for up-and-coming designers to compete with established ones in the wearable tech field?
I think it might be the other way around actually. Emerging designers doing fashion tech products don’t have boundaries of what it is possible, and are not limited by processes from the past and established practices. They’re just not scared to experiment. For established designers, this new field requires of them to rethink everything – from designing to production and manufacturing – which they have used as a selling point until now.
What are the challenges designers tackling wearable tech must overcome to make it mainstream?
As with any emerging industry, there are many challenges designers are facing. From price to battery life to washability, there are issues that need solving before fashion tech products become truly mainstream. One of the biggest challenges, in my view, is educating consumers on why they would need such products in the future, and communicating their value.
How is wearable tech evolving since the Apple watch launch, which made it popular?
Apple is doing a great thing of raising awareness of the wearable tech movement, however, I don’t find the Apple watch particularly exciting. As mentioned before, the shift from wearable tech accessories to clothes and fabrics is a much more interesting area for us. If we look at the catwalks from New York and London fashion week this season, there are some really great collaborations happening. These include Chromat and Intel’s collaboration for the Adrenaline Dress and Aeros Sports Bra and House of Holland and Visa Europe’s partnership for their fashion tech rings that double up as credit cards.
Is wearable tech evolving quickly or steadily? Is there time for consumers to catch up with all developments?
We see a lot of companies that try to get into the space but not necessarily for the right reasons. Don’t do it if your aim is just to monetize on a hot trend – this might result in getting a product out quicker but will likely fail to keep consumers interested once the trend has faded away. There’s definitely time for consumers to catch up with all developments if they know where to find the information of course. We have now started seeing both fashion and technology companies declaring that they will be in the wearable tech space but taking their time to create products that people will want, rather than rushing to get something first.
Wearable tech is equally aimed at both women and men, but will there be enough opportunities for product design to appeal to both of them?
Absolutely! It’s the same as with traditional fashion – the scope is limitless.
What is your ultimate goal for INTERLACED?
The aim of INTERLACED is to bring together the key audiences shaping the future of fashion through technology through events, news content and other educational activities. These are the pioneers and startups, the established companies that have the resources to scale innovations in the field, the academics and emerging talent and the end consumers. Educating and communicating the notion of fashion tech to the people who will be the buyers of all these emerging products is essential for us and dictates everything that we do.
Photography by Liya Ye, Hikaru Suzuki, Martin Radev