Calgary

MakeFashion brings fashionable wearable tech to the runway

Calgary-based fashion show highlights wearable tech that extends far beyond an Apple Watch or Google Glass.

Designs combine fashion and function, all about 'augmenting the human experience,' says co-founder

MakeFashion pairs high-fashion designers with engineers, hackers, and makers to create functional wearables, such as this Illuminated Vintage collection from the 2014 show. (Justin Poulsen)

Designers and engineers from around the world will showcase some of their most cutting-edge wearable technology this weekend in Calgary, bringing to the runway clothes that combine the best of function and fashion.

Launched in June 2012 by a trio of Calgarians, MakeFashion returns to Telus Spark this Saturday for its fourth annual gala.

The runway show features awe-inspiring responsive runway dresses and scientific wearables with practical applications — from clothes that can alter their shape and colour depending on your mood, to pieces that are able to measure your brainwaves and reflect how focused you are.

This Jewel Labyrinth piece by Erina Kashihara was featured at the 2014 MakeFashion showcase. (Justin Poulsen)

"You end up with a piece that looks amazing, looks beautiful, but has the technology that you would expect to see in wearable technology," said co-founder Shannon Hoover. 

Hoover said the designs on display are focused on "augmenting the human experience," and allowing people to interact with each other in more meaningful ways. 

"Your FitBit, it tracks your motion and your activity, but it doesn't do a lot about telling human stories," he said.

"That's what's amazing about the pieces we see on the runway, is they do a very good job of expressing an experience, or expressing a story that people are telling through the clothes they wear."

From humble beginnings to international fame

MakeFashion began as a side project between friends, but has since garnered so much international attention that those involved are now "trying to figure out how to turn this thing that began as a hobby into a proper business," Hoover said.

Over the past four years, the show has produced dozens of wearable tech garments and showcased at over 20 international events in fashion capitals such as New York, Rome and Shenzhen.

The show has also been generating buzz in the Bay Area of San Francisco and will head to Paris in the coming weeks.

"It's interesting because most of us have full-time jobs as well," Hoover laughed.

This is the Dragon Queen, which was presented at MakeFashion 2014. (Justin Poulsen)

Hoover believes this is a critical time for Calgary to make its mark on the wearable tech industry.

"There's a lot of talent in Calgary that you kinda see overshadowed by the oil industry," Hoover said.

"I think we're entering into a time now where people recognize the importance of diversification. We're starting to get people to be really creative and look at expanding what types of products are developed in our city."

Calgary's annual MakeFashion explores the potential of merging high fashion with cutting-edge electronics in a functional way. (Supplied)

With files from The Homestretch

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