WoW Eindhoven follow-up (now with Tzarina)

I’ve already written here about the Women of Wearables movement, and a very interesting inaugural event of their local chapter that I managed to attend last November (Women of Wearables Eindhoven). The program of this first gathering was excellent and rich (though I have to admit that my presence had a bit weird slant, too, as I was the only man in the 30+ audience of WoW ladies back then).

Never mind. In fact, quite opposite, the event lead to many other interesting developments, including our conversation with Marija Butkovic, the WoW’s founder, and with many other interesting people from this network. All these contacts keep enriching Summ()n’s own Future of Fabric program, and we also hope that Summ()n can inspire the WoW-ers, too.

Guess what? The next development turned to be ‘curiouser & curiouser’, as I was invited to the next WoW gathering in Eindhoven, but already as a key speaker! I was invited by Yelena van Kharitonova to talk about the future of… well, basically, of everything: women, fashion, wearables, and what not.

Ok, jokes aside, the invitation was not about making a ‘formal speech about everything.’ Yelena asked if I could think of an opener, a few talking points for an informal conversation of the members of the WoW’s Eindhoven chapter and their guests. Yelena herself was going to make a ‘surprising announcement’, so I decided to also put a few ‘surprises’ into my story as well.

This posting is a short ‘field report’ about the event itself and what I have learned there; I will write a separate posting about my own short talk (I didn’t even presented any slides, so I will have to inventively emulate it, somehow).

The event was held in an interesting place called Wall Street Eindhoven: a combination of a co-working space with an avant-garde rebellious (?) social design (??) collective headed by Lucas Maassen, a renown designer from Eindhoven. And yes, the Wall Street Eindhoven is about new (financial) models, too – in short, the very right place for the WoW (below you see a magical entrance to the place).

The event was kicked-off by ever-energetic Yelena van Kharitonova

who enthusiastically welcomed a small crowd that gathered there in this late evening, in the eve of the Super Blue Blood Moon. Yelena explained the rationale behind Women in Wearables movement in general, and the goals of its local chapter – but she also presented new her own ‘new invention’, a Female FashTech Platform called TZARINA. The platform doesn’t have a website yet yes, it now does, and it also has a wonderful logo:
{here was my talk – read the story about it here: The Future of (Futuring About) Wearable Tech}

Yelena then gave a word to Helena Beks, who was presented as the Honorary Ambassador of the new Tzarina (the role that apparently made Helena herself a bit puzzled):

In ‘real life’ Helena is a designer (she runs her own studio BeksDesign) and also a legal researcher, with a specific focus on legal issues related to fashion (and wearables, by extension.)

Here we all witnessed the power of networks: among the guests was Maxim Hodak, a partner with an Eindhoven-based legal firm Law & More, who at this very moment was looking for a professional advice on the matters related to… law and fashion! Click.

The next presenter, Bruna Goveia, told a very personal story about the place that women have (or rather don’t) in a typical process of designing and developing of wearable technologies – including wearables for women!

An industrial designer who works both at the TU/e and University of Maastricht, Bruna frequently witnesses quite kafkian situations, for example, when the developers (who still tend to be male, white, and angry Dutch – or at least European) who are supposed to develop wearable technologies for women may easily be shocked by the very existence of such concept as b.r.e.a.s.t. Needless to say, these gaps and omission in their worldview often lead to fairly awkward results.

As a final treat we had a presentation by Viola van Alphen – who not only came from Utrecht to join the event, but also brought her own beamer, and a lot of slides to tell the story of her Manifestations!

Manifestations is one of the most interesting platforms in the Netherlands that works on an intersection of art and technology – and Viola happens to be a creative director of this hurricane of the possible futures! (I thought that my intro of the Manifestations could be short: we’ve seen – and massively enjoyed! – their latest exhibition during the Dutch Design Week, and I believed that I wrote a lengthy review of all the interesting concepts that we’ve discovered there. Alas, this report is still ‘in the making’, I was swamped into various projects soon after the DDW and never completed it 😦

In this sense, the presentation by Viola was a good re-collection and re-enactment of some of the concepts we’ve seen during the DDW – and many more that we haven’t! Viola has presented a lot of cases, but many more are also available at their rich and informative website:

All in all, the event was very nice: it was smaller and more intimate than the previous gathering, which in turn helped to have more informal and friendly conversations.  Kudos to Yelena for compiling this interesting professional / social program!

Head image credits: An advertising of ‘Electric Corset’ by Dr. Scott; Bubelle e-dress by Philips Design; logo of Tzarina.

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