[Monozukuri Hub Meetup vol. 5] Fashion and Technology Event Report

On August 23rd, 2016, I had the pleasure to attend the Monozukuri Hub Meetup: “Fashion and Technology” held by Makers Boot Camp, a global leading hardware accelerator, collaborating with Fab Foundry from NYC. This time, two startups (The Crated, Bonbouton) came to Japan to join Monozukuri Boot Camp and they have shared their actual prototypes and findings during their stay in Kyoto in this event. Gathering in MTRL Kyoto on Tuesday evening, it was nice to see people with different backgrounds but interest in innovation and technology. Presenters fastly getting into the topic of the event: “Fashion and Technology”, which was refreshingly insightful thanks to their diverse experiences:

Meisha Brooks, Chief Product Officer of The Crated, Isao Kitabayashi, CEO of Cos Kyoto, Yuya Kikukawa, CEO of no new folk studio, Thuy Pham, Chief Designer of BonBouton and Linh Le, CEO of Bonbouton

The event focused on sharing their prototypes and their insights of combining fashion with technology in the near future. Breaking the event into four topics –Cultural business coordinator, IoT Shoes, Smart apparel, and Bon Bouton–French words for good button. Ever since wearable technology has developed, we’re always looking to find better ways to solve the problem of uncomfortable wires and expecting to “wear” them just like normal clothes, so I was pleased to hear the presenters share their perspectives on these ever-evolving challenges.

Furthermore, the fact that traditional cultural business (or we can say local cultural business) is lacking direct connection with their customers is also an important issues for all of us to think about. Here we saw how Kitabayashi creates his value circle:
 “The wall of industry is the main problem for “cultural business”, a barrier between supplier and customers. To connect them, I create the value circle by establishing a platform for suppliers to get direct feedbacks. For example, open factory events for people to participate directly and meet the local cultural business community. By this kind of monozukuri community, I can create value circle. And I introduced traditional arts with modern fashion.”

Also discussed by presenters were trends of smart apparel for the coming year. Here’s what they see happening in the industry:

no new folk studio: “I have successfully raised my fund with Indiegogo, and I am going to launch my IoT shoes: Orphe this year. 50% of my backers are from the States, and 25% of my backers are from Japan. Orphe targets global users. And I think smart apparel is being a trend now.”

The Crated: “Major players in the fashion industry are starting to realize that there is a big chance for them to combine fashion with technology. Clothing applied with technology is beginning to provide more solutions for users based on the needs of security or their medical situation. For example, our LED light running jacket can avoid dangers while you jogging at night. In addition, with our wireless technology, smart apparel is durable, flexible and washable: just like normal clothes but they are smart. I predict within four years, smart apparel will be a big trend, and I am looking forward to see people wearing them attending the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”

Bonbouton: “We connect software apps with fashion industry. There is a great chance to apply solutions combined with clothes that we have to wear every day. However, there is no direct platform for them to communicate. Our sensor in buttons can attach to any kind of clothes and we already think of the first wave of use stage: military use, sports use and medical sensor use. For example, sport players can quantify their performance and hospitals can sensor their patient’s temperature. Smart apparel is a great opportunity to make the world a better world. And I see the trend within four years.”

A big thanks to Makers Boot Camp and Fab Foundry team who put on the event. We’re looking forward to the next meet up on September 12th!

By Chi Chia Huang

Originally published at makersboot.camp.