It is a unique thing to find a a fashion tech startup that focuses entirely on community building and supporting the artists and makers, rather than on making a profit. MakeFashion is doing just that–along with creating a platform where fashion, technology, and the runway all intersect. Chelsea Klukas, MakeFashion’s co-founder and marketing director, fills us in:
MakeFashion is an initiative bringing wearable technology to the runway. We pair makers and engineers with designers and artists to build one-of-a-kind projects. Our annual runway gala takes place in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada and features new innovative and inspiring pieces. We have toured with our work around the globe including CES Las Vegas, New York Fashion Week, Rome, and MakerFaire in Shenzhen, China.
What was your inspiration behind creating MakeFashion?
Our founders Maria Hoover, Shannon Hoover and Chelsea Klukas were involved in the local maker community and arts communities. We saw great innovation and energy in both places, but there wasn’t a lot of overlap between the two groups. We started brainstorming on ways to bring them together. Maria and Shannon owned an art gallery, Endeavor Arts, and Chelsea had a fine arts background and worked in tech startups. The team reached out to their connections including artists, designers, engineers, and makers, and MakeFashion was born. In our second year Catherine Hazin joined the team as an Artistic Director and we’ve had the support of countless volunteers and partners. The art gallery Endeavor Arts has now been transformed into ARCHEloft, Canada’s first wearables lab.
What sets MakeFashion apart from other fashion tech companies?
Unlike other wearable technology companies, MakeFashion’s goals aren’t based on selling products or manufacturing. Our current goals are around community building and elevating artists and designers. All of our fundraising goes directly to our artists and engineers. As organizers we see it as our role to eliminate obstacles and let our makers and designers focus on building the pieces. In most cases we take care of the funding, marketing, events, and travel. This is a unique differentiator from other fashion and arts organizations, which often take trademarks and rights away from designers or have a pay-to-play model for events. [Editor’s note: We loathe pay-for-play events.]
What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?
Because we aren’t selling products, funding has always been a challenge. We’ve been fortunate to have generous sponsors in the past few years, including OnConference, Seeedstudios, and Absolut Canada. Our organizing team each has a different area of expertise: Shannon is our technology evangelist, Maria and Catherine run the events and choreography, and Chelsea runs the marketing and visuals. Each of us have enjoyed the opportunity to grow our skills and networks as we build MakeFashion.
What can we expect next from MakeFashion?
We will continue to produce an annual collection of runway pieces (call for entries will be in summer 2015, so check our website for details). We are also hoping to do more international expansion and tour our pieces globally. With ARCHEloft opening we will have a dedicated space for wearable experimentation, which we hope will attract international talent. MakeFashion has grown organically and we are always open to ideas, opportunities, and partners. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the video below and MakeFashion’s website to learn more!
Feature image credit c/o Justin Poulsen.
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