Fashionably tech

The fashion industry is a rapidly growing one and even if I have no clue when New York Fashion week is, at least I know that no matter how blasé we claim to be about shoes and such, the tentacles of this world are far-reachingas evidenced by the trends and fads that we adopt everyday, the amount of money spent every year and the volume of imported second-hand clothes from Mombasa.
 Alline Akintore
Alline Akintore

The fashion industry is a rapidly growing one and even if I have no clue when New York Fashion week is, at least I know that no matter how blasé we claim to be about shoes and such, the tentacles of this world are far-reachingas evidenced by the trends and fads that we adopt everyday, the amount of money spent every year and the volume of imported second-hand clothes from Mombasa.

Where is the innovative Rwandan-customized fashion industry? In fact, is there a college major at say, KIST, to breed Rwanda’s next Versace? As a nation bent on self-reliance, I can see so much potential in this-from the designer all the way up the chain to the consumer level.

The fashion industry has evolved over the years and one interesting development has been the integration of technology into the design process and the products as well.

Being a designer is no longer about having the right pencil and hand; fashion-designing software for pattern making and embroidery is prevalent now and allows the designer to edit and customize the designs hustle-free.

Or for the tailors in Rwanda, Archetype has developed an online ordering process that enables the customer to create a garment based on their size and style preferences, which translates into efficient operations for both tailor and consumer.

Wouldn’t you love to own a white suit that was engineered to be dust-proof? (Then you don’t have to worry about the dustier parts of Kigali) Or instead of trying on all your clothes before you buy them, use size prediction software at the store.

This uses technology called Body Scanning whereby measurements are extracted using white light to capture a person’s silhouette and then linked to a virtual fit engine that tells you which clothes in-store are your size!

I realize that Rwanda needs a booming clothing retail industry first before such technology makes sense and yet, this begs the question, why don’t we have one?

Innovative clothing is a new and uprising trend. I am not talking engineered athletics wear, I mean everyday garments such as the ‘Cool shirt’ which has active cooling systems to help manage body heart using circulating temperature controlled liquids (the month of July doesn’t have to be hell again).

Or the ‘SeV’ vest that has up to 42 hidden pockets and a Personal Area Network (allowing you to use your electronic devices without the mess of wires). There are many interesting cool garments but my favorite is the ‘SmartShirt’ that acquires physiological and movement data from the body and relays heart rate, body temperature, distance walked, etcetera, all in real time.

My point is, we are in the perfect position to create a fashion revolution in a part of the world that hasn’t made its mark yet; as the ICT hub of the region, we are in an even more interesting position to merge fashion with technology to address different needs. There is potential for job creation, and the concept of customized apparel for our environment/cultural heritage makes this look like a win/win from every angle!

akintore@gmail.com

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