Last week marked Toronto’s second annual WEST conference, a conference exploring Wearable Technology for Entertainment and Sports. WEST took over the MaRS Discovery District for a full day of keynote talks, panel discussions, and exhibitors forging the future of how we create and consume both entertainment and sports in light of new technologies worn on the body.
While fashion and sport may seem like odd bedfellows, earlier exhibits in Toronto demonstrated the link between what we wear on the court, field, or track and what we wear on the street. Not only does sport stretch the limit of what we demand from our clothing, it also signifies lifestyle and inspires fashion well beyond the tennis court or yoga studio (think Lacoste and Lululemon).
From a fashion perspective, there were three main takeaways from WEST:
1. VR is coming, VR is here
Presentations from the virtual reality community from Toronto and beyond hinted that VR, like mobile technology, will soon touch everything and won’t just be for gamers. Talks from cinehacker Elli Raynai and Curtis Hickman, Founder of The Void, showed how this new medium is opening up opportunities for immersive experiences and storytelling that pushes the boundaries of film as we know it.
When it comes to virtual reality, fashion brands aren’t sitting on the sidelines: Earlier this month, Tommy Hilfiger announced it’s offering in-store VR experiences for customers, while earlier this year Dior released a behind-the-scenes VR experience called Dior Eyes.
2. All design is emotional
Garment engineer Billie Whitehouse doesn’t see the difference between sportswear design and streetstyle design. “All design is emotional” she said in her keynote presentation at WEST. Whitehouse is the founder and creative director of Wearable Experiments, a socially driven wearable technology company. They’re best known for projects such as Fundawear and Navigate.
The lovely & talented @BillieWhouse at #WestConf talking about human-centered design #FashTech pic.twitter.com/cavV9kg3fR
— Electric Runway (@Electric_Runway) November 3, 2015
3. Company to Watch
Vagalume, a Toronto-based startup creating apparel & accessories with embedded light for visibility