„Berlin is on the best way to become the Wearable Tech City. “ – An Interview with Thomas Gnahm

FashionTech
Time

Friday 12.01.2018
17:04

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In June, the Wear It Festival, which is all about the development of innovations in the Smart Wearable and e-textiles department, will be held for the fourth time. During an interview, the initiator Thomas Gnahm explained to us, why Berlin is the ideal location for the festival and why he got a chip implanted in the last year.

„Berlin is on the best way to become the Wearable Tech City. “ – An Interview with Thomas Gnahm
In June, the Wear It Festival, which is all about the development of innovations in the Smart Wearable and e-textiles department, will be held for the fourth time. During an interview, the initiator Thomas Gnahm explained to us, why Berlin is the ideal location for the festival and why he got a chip implanted in the last year.

Can you quickly describe, how you got the idea to bring the Wear It Festival to life?
Die people behind Wear It Berlin are designer, techies and makers. In 2013 we founded the first DIY-LED-Jacket-Community worldwide with Trafo Pop. What started as a personally driven Open-Source-Maker-Project quickly turned into a trendsetting topic and immediately blogs like Creators Project, brands and other designers came up to us to work together. We were curious to see what others were developing in this field, but other protagonists were located from Australia to Canada and the communication just with aid of the internet simply wasn’t enough for us. We needed to meet to start new projects and that’s how, in 2014, we connected the international community to the wearable technologies. The event was a massive success and it was obvious that this kind of an international platform for Wearables, where visitors could exchange, develop joint progression and discuss what innovative clothing could look like, was urgently needed.


Picture @Wear It 2017

That’s how we decided to continue to professionalise the event and include our partners from the industry and researchers. Today the wear It Festival is one of the most important events in the field of design, digitalisation and wearable tech. On the 19th and 20th of June 2018, the most successful innovators and entrepreneurs of the Wearables and E-Textiles industry will meet to present a new generation of digital clothing. A prime conference, exhibition and a hackathon will be held there.

How has the Wear It Festival changed in your opinion since the beginning? Can you observe particular tendencies?
We experienced raising interest in the subject of digitalisation of clothing. Wearable Tech has arrived in the mainstream and people have a use for it. Now it’s all about showing how the new products can truly support us. For many questions, such as how washable Wearables are, there are answers by now and it’s worth for companies to join this area now. It’s not just about presenting prototypical ideas anymore but we want to show real products for tomorrow’s community and the relevancy of this industry.

Wear It Berlin also is an agency for product development in the field Wearable Tech. Who are your clients and how do you shape the working connection?
Due to our long-term work in the field of Wearables, Wear It Berlin is an ideal partner for companies and brands that are interested in this area.
On one hand, we work with brands on new kind of campaigns, like the first Fashion Tech Party in weightlessness. On the other hand, we accompany partners, e.g. from the area of work wear, on their way of developing new products starting with the first idea up to the serial production. It’s very exciting and inspirational to discover uncharted territory with every project.

Where does your passion for fashion, technology and their combination come from?
Clothing always tells us something about its wearer, the human behind it and the society in which we live in. In a rapidly progressing world of internet and digitalisation, in which we live, I think it’s striking that my clothes aren’t much different to my granddad’s clothes. I think fashion is behind and sooner or later a progression will happen. To help shape the future and influence this has a big appeal to me and is also the task of the designers. My background is the design department. In the past, I’ve worked for a fashion magazine in Barcelona but I was also interested in electronics and the maker-scene. It was interesting to use new technology, such as laser cutting or 3D-printing as a new design tool for my work.

What does an innovative design idea need to impress you?
Creativity has barely any limits. We have seen radiation-resistant-menswear and dresses that visualise political activities with aid of cloud-services to communicate the connection between fashion and identity.
As a start-up or company, the question arises: Are there customers for this product? Would I buy it?

What, in terms of the tech-fashion industry represents Berlin?
Berlin is the ideal location for our events and agency work because the city has very good conditions for innovations in the subject of design and tech such as: innovative young companies, excellent research facilities and an agile, international start-up culture, that is able to quickly take on technologies as part of Wearables.

With formats such as the Wear It Festival or the Hack Day, you provide space and opportunity for innovations in the fashion tech field. Do you think Berlin is doing enough or is there an unused potential?
The capital isn’t lacking ideas or prototypes in the fashion tech department - Berlin-based designers consistently present modern pieces with decorative elements such as LEDs. However, these pieces can’t be individually developed to products which would then add value to the Smart Wearables scene. This is why the potential of innovations of the creative capital isn’t fully used, despite the number of individuals. This is when our initiatives step in to take ideas and prototypes to product development and make them ready for the market. This is what we need co-operations for. Brands and companies can cooperate with start-ups and develop final products together. We need to prove that Fashion Tech and Wearables are relevant and that enquiries such as data security, etc. are all answered. For this, we need partners from the industry, that have an honest interest in using ideas. Exactly for this, the festival is a great initiator, which we need to keep up and strengthen.

How digital and smart is your everyday life? What is your most used favourite Smart Wearable?
I myself use a lot of smart objects, ranging from a bicycle helmet with an indicator to our self-developed waistcoats with an integrated twitter-navigation. At the Wear It Festival 2017, I got a chip implanted live on stage, which connects me with the environment Over-The-Air. I could unlock doors or make payments with it but to be honest, it isn’t really usefully integrated into my daily routine but the subject of bio-hacking is for me personally very interesting.

What can we expect from the future and where will the fusion of modern technology and fashion design bring us? What is your personal vision of „Future Fashion“?
My vision for the tech and fashion industry: Technology will bring us, humans, closer together again. The next big innovations will not just happen online but also in the „real life” and put the individual human in the centre. The technology itself will become more and more invisible and haptic, materiality and sensuality will define the interaction with the new gateways to the internet of clothing.

More information about Wear It Festival
https://www.wearit-berlin.com/

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