Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Madison Maxey, Creatively Taking Smart Fabrics Beyond The LED Dress

Meet the woman who is building prototypes, writing code and boldly experimenting at the intersection of design and technology.

FashNerd.com managing editor Mano ten Napel had the pleasure of getting to know Madison Maxey over a cup coffee in Amsterdam. The Brooklyn based smart fabric engineer had flown to The Netherlands to speak about smart textiles at The Next Web. On meeting her, Mano later shared that the 20 something New Yorker was so affable, that they easily fell into conversation about Maxey’s pioneering work in high tech fabric and the new concepts she was working on.

Madison Maxey
Madison Maxey

Listed as year Forbes 30 Under 30, Madison Maxey is in high demand. Demonstrating leadership and a strong belief in her vision, the journey started when Maxey bravely quit Parsons School of Design midway through her studies to pursue a venture that had come calling. With the ability to hustle, Maxey was only 23 when she became the first fashion designer to win Thiel fellowship worth $100,000. With the need for independence driving her forward, the young entrepreneur used the money she won to kick start her company The Crated.

ALSO READ: Printed Circuitry Makes Sleeker Wearables

As a new business woman, Maxey quickly found her niche, inventing fabrics that conduct electricity in a patterned way that enables the fabric to fuse together without the need for a sewing machine. Embodying persuasion and perseverance, Maxey targeted soft goods product manufacturers, especially ones with innovation labs, with materials that function like a circuit board.  Perfecting her craft of developing materials that could be intertwined with fabrics soon led to Maxey building prototypes for the likes of Goggle x  Zac Posen, Flextronics, VF Corporation and North Face. More recently, her company collaborated with  Strong Arm Technologies to introduce Armor, a new type of smart apparel that will function using printed textile circuits.

Madison Maxey with designer Zac Posen
Madison Maxey with designer Zac Posen

With such noteworthy achievements under her belt who are The Crated? The Crated, now known as Loomia, is a technology company that focuses on seamlessly integrating electronic circuitry into textiles. With an eye towards supply chain integration, they invent solutions to help companies whilst building bridges to the future of truly intelligent textiles. Along with Maxey, the Loomia team has expert knowledge of fashion, diligent prototyping and dedication to a seamless user experience.

The Crated Team
The Loomia Team formerly know as The Crated

When it comes to the backbone of her work, Maxey admitted to Mano, during their meeting, that she prefers to concentrate on creating the kind of technology that will creatively take smart fabrics beyond the LED dress. In order to do this she works with proprietary ink-based, rather than thread-based. Mainly centered around creating core technologies, Maxey uses conductive wire trace replacements to make stretchable materials like Lycra into smart fabrics. She does this by infusing fabric with electronic circuitry.

Maddy Maxey at work
Maddy Maxey at work

All about experimental research and development within the smart apparel space, Loomia, was recently named winner of Topshop‘s first-ever wearable technology program, Top Pitch. The win means that Maxey will be working alongside Topshop’s design team to develop a heated garment prototype. On her win, she told Wareable “We’re excited that big, high-street retailers like Topshop are seeing wearables as something that’s more than a gimmick but as a true and useful consumer product sector. Being part of the Top Pitch program allowed us to understand how Topshop is viewing the smart clothing market and how start-ups like ourselves can create tools and technologies that feed into that view.”

Maddy Maxey
Maddy Maxey

Inspired by the likes of Sabine Seymour, Amanda Parkes and Billie Whitehouse, Maxey passionately continues to find new ways for fabrics to enable technology. Not seeking the fashion tech limelight, she is happy to quietly stand out in an industry that is still defining itself. Acknowledging the innovation taking place within the smart textiles space, Madison Maxey doesn’t feel the pressure to build a consumer product yet. Instead, she enjoys the freedom that allows her to continue bringing her love of technology and apparel together under her own rules and in her own time.

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