I'm delighted to begin the coverage of the Smart Fabrics conference by highlighting the wonderful talk by fashion technologists and assistant professor in Fashion Design at Kent State , Margarita Benitez.
Ms. Benitez's work lives in the intersection of wearables, smart fabrics and rich media. It is her focus on rich media that offers a paradigm shift in how garments will be made in the near future and the new emerging relationship between designer and consumer.
Ms. Benitez is interested in building community-based online tools for small scale "ready to make" (prêt-à-faire) fashion.
Along with her colleagues, Ms. Benitez has organized the TechStyleLab, an affordable on-demand printing service aimed to support small designers/companies. The service is run through the fashion school at Kent State.
In four easy steps, anyone can create their own custom textiles. So what sets this apart from other on-demand printing services like Spoonflower?
The TechStyleLab is being groomed into a complete fashion lab, hoping to offer future on-demand services such as digital embroidery, digitally driven-looms, laser cutters and whole garment knitting machines. Think Fab LAB — just for fashion.
In another project titled "Coded::Fashion", Ms. Benitez adds digital construction patterns to the mix of custom design software and laser cutters. The web app takes an image and translates it into a vector file that can be laser cut.
The designer can either (A) order the garment fully sewn or (b) as pattern pieces that she can sew herself.
I see Ms. Benitez work as the future of BurdaStyle: community-driven, small scale production for designers and DIY enthusiasts alike.
Will this be the next stage of the democratization of fashion?