Skip to content

interview

Interview with Kate Unsworth – Kovert Designs – Wearable Tech

From Google glass to apparel with built-in sensory devices, the fashion world is experiencing a transformation towards wearable technology.

Kovert Designs is a fashion conscious company focusing on Wearable Technology by uniting aesthetics and technology. They create ‘Smart accessories’ through the combination of electronic sensors and wireless connections. Formed by Kate Unsworth, Dan Möller, and Fabio Pania, this start-up is based in London (Shoreditch).

This summer they are launching the first 500 units of the “ring”, a wearable and connected device in the form of a piece of jewelry. At first the product will be available only to a select group of influencers in the industry, but a collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces will be available to the general public for the Christmas season and will be on sale at the Kovert website and on Net-a-Porter.

By Spring 2015 Kovert will add additional selling points in all mayor cities and are also planing collaborations with contemporary designers and brands such us ACNE and Rick Owens.

Kate Unsworth, Founder and CEO, took some time to answer our questions and explain her vision to us.

kovert-design-wearable-tech

El Fashionista: Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did to kick-start this project.

Kate: The idea was born in February 2013 when I was working as a technology consultant. I used to write gadget review newsletters on a weekly basis, and about a six months prior, I had begun reviewing wearables products. There were a number of reasons why I felt Silicon Valley was getting it all wrong, both from an aesthetic design perspective and a mass market usability perspective. They were still in the innovation phase, and hadn’t yet begun to think about interesting use cases or commercialization. I knew from day one that this was the product I wanted to build, I just needed to validate that there was actually a market for it.

I spent five months or so doing market research and focus groups, as well as making sure I really had a handle on the technology required to build a wearables product. What I learnt was that there are a number of people who like me, instead of wanting to add more gadgets to their life (such as the new wearable tech products that were coming to market), actually wanted to find a way of managing their existing gadgets so they were less invasive. In fact, they found their technology somewhat annoying and constraining. They wanted to remain connected, but without being distracted from real life interactions. I had found my market.

E: We have all heard a lot of talk about wearable technology but we do not have a very clear idea of what it is apart from Google glass. Please explain to us a little about this concept.

K: The concept of wearable technology is not a new one – it’s been around for 10+ years in some form or another. The difference is that now, battery duration and processing power have vastly improved, allowing us to produce much more useful applications (rather than simply inserting LED lights into clothing). Broadly speaking, at this point in time, wearable tech can be divided into two categories – garments or accessories.  In the accessories space, the majority of players are focusing on health and fitness, and this is likely the direction Apple will also go in with their “iWatch”. The products tend to be worn on the wrist or embedded into clothing and worn near the chest/back, and they monitor everything from heart rate to stress levels and blood glucose levels. At Kovert Designs, we’re taking the concept in a different direction altogether, we want to build social features, that essentially enable you to live a better life.

E: What is the idea behind the Kovert ring?

K: We want to empower people to be able to take a step away from their mobile phone, so that they can stop being distracted, concentrate on real life and live in the moment. Our consumers are sick to death of being overly connected, and want to snap out of autopilot and engage with their technology only as and when they really need to. It’s about making the conscious decision to incorporate your smartphone into your life, rather than letting it force its way in and dominate it. The Kovert jewelry collection (rings, bracelets, necklaces) connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It connects to the Kovert app, which allows you to set different profiles for you to activate, e.g.: “Meeting Profile” or “Dinner Profile”. Within each of these profiles, you can choose the notifications for which you want your Kovert jewelry to vibrate and alert you. The idea is that you only choose the most important notifications to filter through, then put your phone in your handbag and go about your day.

E: What is the ring made of and how does it work? 

K: Different precious metals (depending on the collection) and a bespoke ‘tech pack’ with electronics inside (which includes a PCB, battery, bluetooth and a vibration motor).

E: When are you launching the ring and is it going to be available to the general public?,  When and where can we buy it?

K: We launch this summer. The first batch will be sold to select individuals only. Those interested can apply to VIP@kovertdesigns.com and state their reasons for being considered.

E: Are you working in collaboration with other brands or designers?

K: Yes – we are currently in discussions.

E: Looking ahead 3 to 5 years, where do you see Kovert Designs?

K: Collaborating with a number of big designers to produce a vast array of beautiful connected devices that inspire people to live a more fulfilling life.


kovert-design2
kovertdesign

A beautiful dress and interview with Danish designer Laura Baruël

When I saw the work of Danish artist and designer Laura Baruël for the first time, I was intrigued by the organic quality of the ideas and designs. To mimic and connect with nature is a concept that has been explored by many artistic movements along the years, from Art Nouveau to the hippie days. Today when we talk about nature and design it always has an “eco” label connected to it somewhere, but in Baruël’s case it is more about a truly and profound inspiration to work between the boundaries of design, craft, set design and art.

Her experimental pieces and ready wear garments have above all an aesthetic and spiritual virtue. Her last spring collection, Flora 1, has beautiful prints in silk dresses, inspired by her fascination with botanics and the Scandinavian summer landscapes. One way of getting your hands on a dress is through the fashion platform Muuse, who’s selling one of them on demand (they have to receive at least 20 orders to produce it) at €235. A great way of having a unique piece at a more than reasonable price.

I asked Laura Baruël some questions about her inspiration, and here is what she said:

(TRADUCCIÓN AL CASTELLANO DESPUÉS DEL SALTO)

Laura Baruël - Camille Silk Dress - Pre-Order- 235€ (was 335€) muuse.com

As a designer and artist, we’ve seen that your work is always inspired by nature, for example in your last collection “Flora 1”. Can you tell us more about what you find fascinating about translating the world of nature to your designs?
I grew up in the country side in a beautiful island in the southern part of Denmark. I always felt very confident and alive in the natural wilderness and with animals. I still have the feeling that all the senses are very awake in a natural environment and somehow I keep being inspired by nature, both visually and intellectually.

Could you tell us more about your work process? Do you go places to get inspired? Is there a story behind the collections?
I very often get inspiration from travelling. The collection FLORA is a part og a larger project that has to do with Nordic flora and landscape. I did the print motives while I stayed in Fiskars in Finland. A wonderfull little creative place in the middle of the woodlands. Very inspiring :)

What are your preferred materials to work with and why?
I love to work with silk. Its just amazingly beautiful and it is a great material to use for print motives.

What is your opinion on trends?
Trends are in my opinion interesting signs that tells about what people think and feel at certain times – for better or worse. Clothing can be a really important tool for self expression. I take it quite seriously.

Could you tell us your most inspiring place in Copenhagen?
At the moment I am very fond of the Museum of natural history in Copenhagen – geology, but Designmuseum Denmark in Copenhagen has a new exhibition called ” Rococomania” and thats the place to go if you have time in Copenhagen.

Plans for the future?
Right now I just finnished a huge installation project “Mountainscape” and I am gong to take a rest! I am very satisfied, and very tired from working hard, even though I have had great assistants. I will be going to Finland again this July to focuse on my work with Nordic flora. Can’t wait!

Last week was the inauguration of the exhibition “Rococo manía” at the Design Museum Denmark, an exhibition that “reflect on the commonalities in the past and present” for which Baruël presented an interesting installation among other two Danish designers Anne Damgaard and Nikoline Liv Andersen. From May 3 until September 2012.

"Mountainscape", Laura Baruël, 2012. Exhibition ‘Rokoko-mania’ at Designmuseum Danmark
"Mountainscape", Laura Baruël, 2012. Exhibition ‘Rokoko-mania’ at Designmuseum Danmark

Backstage photos by Amanda Hestehave

TRADUCCIÓN AL CASTELLANO DESPUÉS DEL SALTO

A Couple SS12

Laia Garcés and Núria Martí are A couple, a brand new label from Barcelona. They were meant to work together, as Laia explained me at the last edition of El Ego, at Madrid Fashion Week. “We met  the first year of the Graduate inFashion Design at ESDi, and from the first day on we started working together. We were partners during the four years of our studies and to create a label together seemed to be a logical next step. We complement and balance each other very well”.

The upcoming summer collection, which is their second collection, have some stand out pieces like this white handknitted cotton sweater. I can feel the breeze of a sunset at the beach just by looking at it! It is a very sexy collection too, with sheer garments and suggestive cuts. The blue pleated dress is a good example of that.

“We used only natural fibers, like silk or cotton” continues Laia “And we put great emphasis on creating good patterns. To make easy garments, you need a good base. We want to create high quality garments that can be used for someone that’s 18 years old but also for someone whos 40. Garments that you can use and love for a long time.”
All the pieces are made in Barcelona. They are selling some of the pieces at buylevard.com and at special sales, like in next Changing Room.●

Laia y Núria de A Couple
More info www.a-couple.com

Three Floor – new online fashion label

threefloor_fashion

A friend tipped me about THREE FLOOR, a new fashion label launched this month and I instantly felt there was something interesting about their designs. The brand is inspired by  fashion insiders, editors, models, bloggers style and its debut collection has a lot of pieces that standout, like the block colour jumper, or the black and white D’VIL Shirt, a shirt/dress with a embellished collar. I like their idea of separates that can be added to your wardrobe and the hip and at the same time wearable vibe it has. All with a reasonable price tag (all garments costs less than £100 or €116 euros).

I asked Han of Three Floor a few questions about their vision:

How did you come up with the idea of the brand? 

We focus on the pieces that we are strongly feeling for at the time. Our style is cleverly seductive, echoing the female silhouette with luxe fabrics and hemlines to make legs look like they go on forever. We love pieces that can be reinvented to suit our mood, so if it’s toughening up a sheer shirt dress by adding a cape for ultimate impact, then so be it.

What is the background of THREE FLOOR’s team? 
THREE FLOOR is a collective brand who saw an opportunity in the face of a high street breakdown!

Are you in favor of doing seasonal collections?
As a small company with a niche clientele, we wanted to push the boundaries of affordable design by showcasing quality garments with timeless style. Our debut collection launched in November 2011, so we toyed with the styling to have some sheer pieces layered with warm textures for a wintery fix but enough colour to know that summer isn’t too far away.

Are you planning on selling exclusively online?

Right now we are exclusively online, but we have some ideas up our sleeves for the future to keep our customers updated and involved with the brand.★

Me topé con  THREE FLOOR, una nueva marca que se lanzó este mes,  a través de un amigo y enseguida encontré que había algo interesante en sus diseños. La marca tiene base en Hackney, Londres, y está inspirada en el estilo de fashion insiders, editores, modelos y bloggers. Su primera colección tiene muchas piezas interesantes, como el sweater bicolor o la camisa D’VIL Shirt en blanco y negro con un panel largo detrás. Me gusta sobre todo la idea de piezas separadas que se pueden añadir a tu armario, a un precio razonable (todas las prendas están por debajo de los £100 (€116) y con un toque divertido.

Le pregunté a Han de THREE FLOOR algunas preguntas sobre cuál es su visión:

¿Cómo llegaron a la idea de crear la marca?
Nos enfocamos en la piezas que nos gustaban especialmente. Nuestro estilo busca ser seductor, pero de una manera inteligente, realzando la silueta femenina, con telas lujosas y faldas que hacen que las piernas se vean larguísimas. Nos gustan las piezas que pueden ser reinventadas para que vayan con tu humor, así que si se trata de endurecer un vestido transparente con una capa para crear impacto, que así sea.

¿Quiénes están detrás del equipo de THREE FLOOR?
THREE FLOOR es un colectivo que vió la oportunidad en la ruptura de las marcas de grandes superficies!

¿Estaís a favor de crear colecciones por temporadas?
Como la pequeña compañía que somos con una clientela muy nicheada, queremos traspasar los límites del diseño asequible mostrando prendas de calidad con un estilo atemporal. Nuestra primera colección se lanzó en Noviembre 2011, así que jugamos con el estilismo para tener algunas piezas sencillas mezcladas con texturas más cálidas para que sea una mezcla más invernal, pero con color sufiente para que el verano no esté demasiado lejos.

¿Planeaís vender exclusivamente online?
Ahora mismo vendemos sólo por internet, pero tenemos algunas ideas debajo de la manga para que nuestros clientes se mantengan al día e involucrados con la marca.★

THREE FLOOR

Spinning into-Ana Locking

Por Virginia Fernandez

Deliciosa, así es Ana Locking. Porque deliciosa es su manera de transmitir su pasión por la moda. El detalle, la sensibilidad y el entusiasmo que traslada Ana Locking no tiene igual.

El pasado domingo, unas horas antes de que mostrase su colección Spinning Destiny en la Cibeles Madrid Fashion Week, tuve la enorme suerte de compartir unos minutos con ella, durante los que no sólo me mostró encantada la colección, prenda a prenda, sino que además charlamos sobre sus proyectos, la pasión por su trabajo y el destino.

El destino es inescrutable. No sabemos lo que nos depara. Pero es cierto que de una manera u otra, nosotros mismos escogemos nuestro destino.

Así, de esta forma tan trascendental, comienza Ana su explicación sobre la colección. Colores con fuerza y brillantes, como el fucsia, el naranja, el ocre o el azul tinta dan paso a combinaciones de tonos nude con rosas palo, formando auténticos puzzles en el patronaje de chaquetas, faldas y vestidos. El patronaje y la costura son dos de los imprescindibles de Ana Locking. “Fíjate en esta costura. Es un entredós, una técnica antiquísima que se usaba sobre todo en los bordados de la ropa interior. Está hecho completamente a mano, y ya a penas se hace. Permite que la prenda tenga movimiento propio ya que la costura se va abriendo y cerrando en función del movimiento de la modelo”. Y, ¿cómo consigues este nivel de artesanía? – “¡pues gracias a una bordadora estupenda, a la que le debo la vida, que si no! Ahora ya no encuentras a nadie que lo haga así, tan sólo máquinas, y para nada es lo mismo. El efecto que se consigue con esta técnica es inigualable”. Y tiene toda la razón. Al salir a la pasarela, le prenda cobra vida en el cuerpo de la modelo.

Ana continúa su explicación, cogiendo cada prenda entre sus manos, animándome a tocarla y a sentir la textura del tejido. “Es genial que podáis venir y ver la colección aquí conmigo. Así se aprecia realmente el trabajo y la dedicación que hay detrás de cada una de las prendas. La pasarela es un espectáculo maravilloso pero en el que se pierden los detalles y a veces no se valora el esfuerzo que hay detrás”.

Entrevista / Interview: Teresa Helbig

Teresa Helbig es una diseñadora barcelonesa, que ha ganado recientemente el premio a la mejor diseñadora novel por parte de la revista Marie Claire y una semana después, recibía el premio Barcelona es Moda. Su estilo es muy femenino, y trabaja de una manera artesanal, prendas de fiesta y vestidos de novia.

Teresa Helbig is a catalan designer, who recently won two prizes (Marie Claire / Barcelona es moda) for her career. Her couture gowns and wedding dresses are über femenine. Here is the interview.

Teresa Helbig (teresahelbig.com)
Teresa Helbig (teresahelbig.com) - ilustración elfashionista.net

An interview with Cecilia Sörensen

I hope you enjoy this meeting with the designer. A bit more about her new collections, her world, inspirations, her experience as an independent designer…and more…

Espero que disfruten de este encuentro con la diseñadora. Unas líneas que nos cuentan más sobre sus nuevas colecciones, inspiraciones, qué significa ser un diseñador independiente…entre otras cosas….

 

Cecilia Sörensen’s designs are always part of an intriguing and intimate world.

Born in 1976, this fashion designer graduated in tailoring in her native Helsinki. She then moved to the UK to pursue further studies at the Southampton Institute but finally obtained her BA with Honours from EATM, Barcelona/Southampton University. She stayed in Barcelona, where she currently works.

I talk to her in a warm Barcelona’s afternoon, in a park and between kids, tourist and dog walkers…

Your fall collection has a lot to do with comfort, well-being… What was the inspiration for this?

The fact that my routine has changed a bit influences a lot. Having worked in a long time behind the shop and now in the home-studio kind of isolated me. I think that made the clothes much more relaxed and much less formal.

Also comes from an old picture I found in a gentleman’s tailoring book, where there was a cigar jacket, the former smoking lounge jacket and I loved it. That was the kick for more than a pajama style… In fact, now for the summer 2010, I’ve noticed that the clothes can be used both to be at home -but well dressed-, and at the same time the street, depending on how you combine it … It is between the intimate and the public.

Perhaps it is a new mid-point you’re looking for?

The truth is that this is not something you think at the time, but you see it a little bit after having done it. It is, yes, completely opposite to the current trends of great shoulders or highly structured clothing…

I think your new lifestyle must have something to do with this …

Living in the mountains, surrounded by nature greatly influenced, of course. Everything is soft … I do not know … the whole city is much harder and hectic, the atmosphere around me now is much more fluid and relaxed. And that it may be noted in the final result …

Recycling has always been part of your collections, mixing or as a single line (Pequeños Heroes). What’s organic and what’s poetry in this election?

At first everything was recycled. When the brand grow, I realized that it wasn’t entirely feasible to do everything like it… Then I decided it was better to mix, because there are garments that “need” new fabrics to look better… In addition the material has been increasingly difficult to find…

Even before it become a profession, when fashion was just a hobby, I liked going to flea markets and find beautiful clothes …

That is a mystery to me, how to choose clothes in a place where there are thousands… For example, those crochets that are part of your shirts!

I just look for the things I like… Cotton fabrics and of course made by hand in these parts … Is that feeling when you walk into a flea market and find a garment that you like… then you start to think what will have been it’s previous life…It’s a bit like when you adopt a dog of the street, got the dog, but you can never know what live or how was it before …

Like your dog Skipi!

Yes, yes! It had a life, and you can only imagine… You’ll never know, nor will it tell you… The piece itself is a little independent … so you can handle from now on, but never before that … That is very nice …Then again I do pieces where the past is known. I do custom shirts from old shirts that customers bring to me, like a husband, father, or a grandfather…Nothing is softer than worn cotton, and if worn by someone you love… So much nicer than a stone wash…

Designing you also get inspired by the past… What era inspires you most?

The photos that most interest me are those of the late nineteenth century, early 1900. But the atmosphere conveyed by the photos was what caught my attention. There is a lot of intensity in them. At that time you had taken  a picture in life … There was great expectation for this… Sometimes I try to escape it, but it really move me so much I do not the clothes exactly that appear in the pictures of course, but there are details, or even sometimes I think I saw it one way, and really when you return to the photo does not have much to do with the final design… It is nothing more than an emotional kick to start.

Do you have current references?

Not really. Of course that anything that surrounds me can affect the designs…Maybe is not a muse, but what inspires me are stories…Like, how did it now for next summer… Did I tell you?

After being under construction for the new house, I have seen many pictures of old wooden houses, which reminded me to a Finnish television series, which I was perhaps a little young to see it, because it affected me a lot … It is the story of a woman who lives alone on an island, always paddling to reach anywhere, going slowly crazy…and after all she commits suicide…

I’ve reworked the story for me, and reinvented it. Is the history of  the wife of a fisherman, who when to work one day and never came back … maybe he died at sea. But she is still waiting,  because she thinks he have been gone just a few weeks … She lives on that island, in her universe… in the midst of nature. Nature is also invading the house … And that is in the clothes, I have many items that are inspired by this idea of “invasion of nature.” She has long hair because it does not cut it in years ..

Perhaps is the idea that, although she lives in the country, every day she dress up to her husband. That feeling of dressing up alone, intrigues me and inspires me a lot.

Photos Wai Lin Tse

It is very romantic and sad at the same time …

Yeah, well, sometimes I notice that what I do is very nostalgic. You might see the influence of Eastern Europe. You know the literature there is very sad and beautiful at the same time.

That is what’s new now, and am very happy with it. Clearly influenced me greatly iconic designers like Vionnet, but not something current …

Being an independent designer today is a difficult decision. Now you have done it for seven years, with no support from investors and pushing forward alone. What motivates you to go ahead?

This is a dream I’ve had since I was really little. Although we are now passing through difficult times, I cannot quit. If I quite, it would be for something else and not because the economic crisis …

Many people work for their own line and for others too. I have had many offers, but the retail world is something I want to be away as much as possible … I prefer to teach and continue completely independent with my brand, than having to make a line to another brand … of course it would be great to work with a team, but it is a world now I’m not interested …

Pages of Cecilia's Sketchbook

How is the teaching life? Do you bring them your own vision? How do you give them tools to enter the job market?

Yeah, well, many of them finish the school to go to work in large companies. But in turn, they will also have many teachers in their career to learn some skills for it. My part is to teach fashion design.

The most important part is teaching research. The hardest thing is to make them understand that design is a lot of work, a lot of research … I think we focus more on the process, of course. Then when they pick it and begin to work well in the projects, it’s incredibly interesting…

Everything in the creative work takes time and a lot of work, two concepts that now may be not as important as the immediacy or the economic …

My concern is how devalued is fashion sometimes … And I had not thought of it before, but perhaps it is the work of small brands to return the sense of fashion. In Finland I’ve seen now that there are many small shops that has not been in years … I hope that little by little we get back to a more human world, a more human scale.

Photos: Cecilia Sörensen / Wai Lin Tse / elfashionista.net

 

 

 

 

 

Los diseños de Cecilia Sörensen siempre son parte de un universo unico e íntimo. Nacida en 1976, esta diseñadora se graduó en sastrería en su natal Helsinki. Después de haber estudiado en el Reino Unido, termina sus estudios en EATM Barcelona / Southampton. Cecilia decidió hacer de Barcelona su ciudad, donde actualmente vive y trabaja. Hablé con ella una tarde, en un parque entre niños, turistas y paseadores de perros.

Tu colección de este otoño tiene mucho que ver con el comfort, el saber estar…Cuál fue la inspiración para esto?

Influye bastante el hecho que  mi rutina ha cambiado un poco.  Después de haber estado trabajando mucho tiempo en trastienda o ahora con el estudio en casa,  me he aislado un poco. Creo que eso hace que las prendas sean mucho mas relajadas y mucho menos formales.