On the run up to Women’s Day on the 8th March, we are paying homage to 7 women who have made a name for themselves in the world of technology. The names behind the women we are honoring might not be commonly known, but there is no denying that they are quietly making a difference in their field. In this series, the women personally share their experiences and challenges whilst also giving us a glimpse into the lessons that they have learnt along the way. In her own words, Marta Waydel shares her story.
When it comes to the industry that I am in, I must admit that it was quite a natural progression for me, although not so straightforward. My first choice of studies was Computer Science; I guess I was always a little bit geeky. However, after the first year I was scouted to the modeling agency. Despite that I wasn’t much into fashion, then, I took a chance as I saw it as an opportunity to travel the world and meet a variety of people. I have to admit it was a great school of life and not always as glamorous as shown in the shiny magazines.
From modeling I moved to the photo shoot and show production. This was the time when I have noticed fashion industry really changing. The huge amounts of cheap and poor quality clothes started flooding the market. The ever-accelerating trends seemed like simple moneymaking machines. I didn’t like that change, so I decided to educate myself further. I undertook various postgraduate studies in fashion buying, marketing and management to understand the wider spectrum of the fashion industry. I started to realize how ruthless and often not ethical fashion industry is. Thanks to gained knowledge I become really passionate about consumer behavior and I started researching the ways to motivate people towards more sustainable fashion consumption. It was quite obvious to me that it has to be done through some kind of a digital platform.
When I am asked how did I get into the industry that I am in, I am always keen to first point out the reason. The fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluter, 2nd only to oil and if we continue to consume as we do now, our planet will run out of natural resources within 30 years regards World Wildlife Fund. These problems sound overwhelming, but it is time to take a good look at the harmful processes that we collectively support as consumers… especially that we are far more than just consumers; we make choices and those really matter. Even small changes in our personal habits have an effect on a larger scale. I really want to make those positive changes easier for everyone including myself. I feel obligated to at least try to change this broken system for a better one. These are the main reasons why I co-founded iKLEID.
iKLEID is a project where we are designing an experience space to build myriad innovations upon. We concentrate on methods based on exploration, co-creation and collaboration that foster more sustainable fashion consumption. We believe that it’s very important to encourage a stronger relationship with our clothes and understanding of true value and cost behind what we wear. We also aim to activate new concepts and abilities to experiment how to better use and extend life of our garments.
If someone wanted to follow in my footsteps, I think it is important for them to concentrate on something that they believe in and care about. It is necessary to recognize what is really important to you, your own mission and goals. Constant education is also required, especially within the technology sector, as there is always something new.
Sustainability subject wasn’t very obvious for me at the beginning. I think my interest in consumer behaviour and aggressive marketing were the starting point to learn more about it. Nobody around me ever spoke about pollution caused by fashion or clothes, over-consumption problem. This subject didn’t exist and I believe there is still not enough information. However, there are some great sources out there like, Fashion Revolution movement, books by Safia Minney “Slow Fashion’ and ‘Slave To Fashion’ or Kate Fletcher; ‘Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys’ and ‘Craft of Use’, an amazing movie by Andrew Morgan ‘True Cost’.
As cofounder of iKLEID where I hold a role of a creative director. I am responsible for the overall look and feel of marketing, media, branding and user experience. I also need to ensure that the design and functionality combine harmoniously. I am constantly researching innovation in fashion tech sector and analyze trends. Besides, I am in charge of building strategic partnerships with industry players.
I have learnt a lot in my role, but my biggest challenge continues to be how to connect sustainable fashion with the fashion tech sector. I truly believe that technology and innovation have the potential to help us shop and use clothes more consciously as well as make supply chains more transparent. Besides, The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2030 over 10% of apparel will be connected to the Internet. With available data, we will be able to recognize our needs much better. Brands will be able to customised and personalised garments directly for our requirements. With help from sustainability focus virtual platforms, we will be able to build beautiful wardrobes that showcase our values. It can be a fun and enjoyable process to invest in pieces of clothing that not only serve our needs but also have an engaging narrative. Moreover, this could spell the end of unnecessary, high-volume merchandise production. Digitalized clothes and smart textiles could also contribute to shared, repaired and circular economy growth. Despite that, I still can’t see much of an interest in tech when I speak to people concentrated on Sustainable Fashion and vice versa Tech people are rarely interested in sustainability. These seem to be two separated communities, even that both are working on the future of the same industry.
The other more personal challenge is that I am a rather introvert person. Yet, I have to put myself sometimes in situations that are not necessarily the most comfortable for me. I am thinking here about public speaking, for example, especially that English is not my first language. However, it is unavoidable in my role, so I am doing my best.
My experiences have become lessons that I would you like to pass on. One of those lessons is that you need to travel the world. This is something that will help you understand people and their culture. Be open-minded, patient and don’t be afraid to try various things to discover you intrinsic motivators, experiment in order to find your flow. By flow I mean when you are performing an activity feeling energized, focusing with the full involvement. I believe this is how you can discover what is best for you, what is your real passion. It is also worth to remember that it is never late to learn and don’t be afraid to change your career if it will help you feel accomplished and true to yourself.
Lastly, when it comes to the women around me that inspire and drive me. I must admit that I have always admired intelligent and knowledgeable people. There are a couple people within Fashion Tech sector that inspire me. For example Muchaneta (of FashNerd.com) enthusiasm and huge involvement in educating people about Fashion Tech really resonates with me. I also really like Kate Goldsworthy’s work and her contribution to material innovation, technology and transformation in the textile industry. Next is Amy Winters with her interactive wearable designs; she creates a touch-sense-sound multi-sensory experience. I admire Pauline van Dongen wearable technologies and her input into research in the human body in relation to its surroundings. I do agree with her that technology can add new value and meaning to fashion. Very inspirational is also Iris van Herpen and how she is fusing technology and traditional Couture craftsmanship. Her beautiful designs combine the most traditional and the most radical materials and garment construction methods.