#FASHIONTECH Berlin was not only about talks, but also about making; credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After a brilliant kick-off during the Berlin Fashion Week in January 2015, part two of #FASHIONTECH BERLIN was launched from May 5th to 7th 2015. The sub-conference is aimed at fashion houses, designers, technologists, buyers and distributors. While the lab was open on all three days of #rp15–uniting gadgets, hacking and fashion, and creating a junction between technology and design–the one-day fashion and technology conference was held on May 5th, 2015. Topics covered included material science, design thinking, alternative financing, Wearables, IoT and other emerging technologies for fashion design, or consumer awareness.

Despite joining forces with PREMIUM and SEEK International Trade Shows, "Projekt Zukunft", an initiative of the Senate Department of Economics, Technology in Berlin, was also a cooperation partner of re:publica, #FASHIONTECH BERLIN.

 Anita Tillmann (CEO of PREMIUM and SEEK), Andreas Gebhard (CEO and co- founder of re:publica), and Tanja Mühlhans (Projekt Zukunft) at the opening of #FASHIONTECH BERLIN; credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0).

There was a time where fashion was merely a matter of combining contrasting fabrics, colours and textiles, of bringing an outfit to life. Nowadays, the interplay of fashion and technology is literally changing our everyday life. Just looking good is no longer enough in the fashion industry – a "fashion-forward" approach increasingly means integrating the appropriate technologies to sell, purchase and create fashion items. Designing cutting-edge wearable technology, using big data to match the right outfit to the right customer, or attracting consumers with Bluetooth, iBeacons or interactive displays–these are all part of an ongoing fashion / tech revolution. Fashion is massively impacted by technology and questions such as if e-textiles will begin to gain major markets in a few years' time arise. 

This is where #FASHTIONTECH BERLIN comes into play. It aims to tackle these interactions of fashion and technology. During these three days of talks and workshops, attendees could try out different techniques, like sewing LEDs onto clothing, 3D printing, designing solutions for Wearables or IoT applications, pitching concepts for fashion magazines, or trying out alternative financing models for fashion tech designs. The #FT Lab space included different workshops and an exhibition, with contemporary photography solutions by Fast Forward Imaging, the "illation jacket" by Teiimo, handcrafted LED jackets by cyclist group TrafoPop, and desktop 3D printing solutions by Formlabs.

 Sara Bonami (Formlabs) teaching attendees how to print accessories using a high-resolution 3D desktop printer in the #FT Lab at #rp15; credit: Sara Dacci (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On May 5th the sub-conference was kicked off by Julia Kümmel's talk "The Woven Internet". She works at the Berlin-based design studio Making Things Happen, and focuses on wearable electronics and IoT. In her day job at Zalando, she also works on innovative and process-oriented digital marketing. Her talk questioned how traditional industries incorporate new technologies into their own ecosystems without disturbing procedures that have been successful so far? Can the incorporation of technology into textiles and other Wearables be used to improve the overall quality of living? 

Julia Kümmel, co-maker at Making Things Happen, discusses the Woven Internet; credit: Dorothea Tuch (CC BY-SA 2.0).

In a more digitalized world fashion labels also need to identify digital solutions that complement their own products and services. Consumers want to participate and co-create fashion and other commodities, while the workforce is seeing the lines blur between their job roles and responsibilities. Tobias Ulmer of WERBEWELT talked about the importance of creating brands and campaigns representative of what consumers want, and the way fashions are presented. He stressed the relevance of identifying and getting to know your clients, and creating unique messages for different platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Tobias Ulmer, CEO of WERBEWELT, presenting his “Digital Strategies for the Future of Fashion and Technology”, on the #FASHIONTECH BERLIN Stage 11; credit: Sara Dacci (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Also Fashion designers are becoming more conscious of the working conditions under which their products are manufactured, and related design aspects. Carina Bishop and Annett Borg conducted the workshop "Letʼs Start a Fashion Revolution", which highlighted the processes involved in garment production, and the impact of waste and social inequality. Thorsten Deutrich, a VP at Global Dots, approached the issue of Wearables, big data and cloud storage in his talk. He believes that when creators decide to incorporate technology into Wearables, they should also consider how to store and protect the data that is created through their designs.

Company infrastructure, leadership, and product adoption cycles all have a huge impact on business success nowadays. Berlin has seen a rapid increase in technological advances and start-ups in the last few years. As the city of Berlin starts to invest more into the creative infrastructure, understanding innovative processes becomes ever more important. Dr Danny Krautz of Berlin Partner discussed regional technology development as pertaining to material science and Wearables. 

Pietro Oluyede and Mirko Gaverini of RePulse; credit: Sara Dacci (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Italy is home to the world’s most famous fashion designers and labels. The Italian style is highly celebrated, and competitors look pale in face of its unmatched creativity and innovation. So we were glad that Pietro Oluyede, co-founder of RePulse, came from Italy to talk about the emergence of fashion design labs in Italy, and about their Re:Pulse app that helps consumers design clothing made-to-order of their own.

Many of the available Wearable apps were created for the health and fitness industries. How many of those are fashionable while still providing other benefits for the wearer? Fashion and design is now becoming a big part of this process, and it is time for designers to align with technologists to create better and more stylish items. Founder Nicholas Caporusso of INTACT, in his talk called "Making it Wearable for Good", talked about his passion for creating wearable solutions for people with disabilities without increasing the visibility of their disability.

Are you eager to hear more? That was just the start! Save the date for the third round of #FASHIONTECH BERLIN, again taking place during Berlin Fashion Week on July 8 2015, details soon. 

photo credit top image: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY-SA 2.0)