This week, Calgary-based MakeFashion unveiled StitchKit, a new Kickstarter campaign to make fashion technology available to everyone! Consisting of a custom Arduino board and sensors, StitchKit was built to provide students, teachers, designers and cosplayers with the components they need to be successful designing their next wearable project.
To celebrate the launch of the StitchKit campaign and better understand the world of MakeFashion, co-founder Chelsea Klukas (@chelscore) was kind enough to share answers to a few of our questions. Read on!
I have an arts background, but my career focus has been in technology as a UX design professional. The intersection of arts and technology has always been my passion, and MakeFashion is the perfect expression of that intersection.
MakeFashion was founded by Shannon Hoover, Maria Hoover, and me in 2012 in Calgary (where I lived at the time). Shannon and Maria owned an art gallery together, and we were having casual conversations around coffee about technology and clothing. The arts college I attended (The Alberta College of Art and Design) had a fiber arts program, so I knew a number of wearable art designers. This combined with the network from the gallery and our technology network gave us the right community to start thinking about developing some pieces for a fashion show. We had our first runway show within a year of those conversations, and have continued the tradition of doing an annual runway gala since.
MakeFashion is “hacking the runway” bringing storytelling, design, technology, and innovation to the runway. We are also an advocate for diversity and inspiring young creators to get into STEM through fashion.How does MakeFashion go about its mission?
The past five years we’ve focused around an annual runway event in Calgary that takes place every spring. We lead up the event for a call for ideas, and work throughout the year with the teams to help them create their pieces. We also lost workshops and hands-on events. This year we have a bit more focus on scaling to a bigger audience, and that includes creating some new wearable tech tools that we will be announcing soon.
At the time we founded MakeFashion, there wasn’t a lot going on with the intersection of tech and fashion. That was back in the Google Glass days, where the market wasn’t very fashion-forward. Now we’re seeing a lot more attention to design and details: and both the big tech brands and the big fashion brands are taking notice. The recent Google X Levis collaboration on a smart jacket is the perfect example of this.Why should an “average person” care about or be aware of MakeFashion?
I believe in creativity and self-expression as a lifestyle, and getting involved in the maker scene is a gateway to generating ideas and connecting with a creative community. Clothing is an extremely visible means of self-expression. Our goal is to be an inspiration to the “average person” that will possibly lead to some not-so-average ideas and initiatives.
We’ve recently launched a product called “StitchKit” that allows anyone to integrate wearable technology into their clothing. This opens the door to a lot of possibilities for individuals to make their own “smart clothing.”
I’ve personally started to integrate more wearable technology into my own outfits. For example, I have a jacket with light-up shoulder embellishments that is always a conversation starter!What compute platforms are common with MakeFashion?
Most of our projects run on Arduino.
Common technologies out designers and engineers gravitate to are low-cost sensors, modular systems, Arduino, Autodesk applications (Fusion 360, Tinkercad, etc), and SLA 3D printing (Formlabs).What are the technical areas designers struggle with?
One of the exciting things of being a part of MakeFashion has been observing our designers grow and expand their technical capabilities. When we started, a lot of designers were intimidated with the technology: those same designers are programming and soldering today. Wearable technology is very unique and has a lot of specific challenges, which is why MakeFashion is very hands-on with training and supporting our designers.Are there any interesting upcoming developments you want to share about Make Fashion?
StitchKit will be available to the public soon. We are also working on creating more online tutorial and how-to content.What are the differences between a “MakeFashion” designer and a “regular” fashion designer?
Our designers need to have an understanding of technology and the unique challenges of wearable technology. In addition to the technical expertise, there are a few fundamental considerations like how the garment will be cleaned, where to place batteries and bulky components, and above all else, safety.If I am a designer interested in bringing MakeFashion to my city or joining MakeFashion, how do I go about that?
We have an international presence, and are always looking for designers to join us! Interested designers or event hosts can email us at .If you are interested in learning more, here are some useful links to stay up-to-date with MakeFashion, Chelsea Klukas and StitchKit:
- Follow Chelsea on Twitter (@chelscore) and Medium (@chelscore).
- Consider backing the StitchKit Kickstarter.
- Visit the MakeFashion website.