2019 Wearable Tech and Maker Gift Guide

It’s the season of giving: which can also mean the season of stress over finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Our 2019 gift guide offers ideas for the tech-savvy makers and fashiontech fans on your wishlists. Wearable tech gifts for everyone! As a bonus, these gifts support independent creators within the MakeFashion community.

Behind the Scenes Spotlight: Zyris

This week we wanted to take a break from the sneak peeks of our 2017 gala and take a moment to showcase our friends and sponsors, Zyrisfor all the behind the scenes work that they do to ensure MakeFashion goes off without a hitch!

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MakeFashion and Lumen Couture on the Creator’s Project

Lumen Couture, a self-contained projector hat by Chris Corner and Chelsea Klukas featured in our 2016 gala, was recently featured on The Creator’s Project by Vice Media.

The Creators Project is a global celebration of creativity, arts and technology. Launched in 2009 with Intel as founding partner, the platform features the works of visionary artists across multiple disciplines who are using technology to push the boundaries of creative expression.

Video: Absolut x MakeFashion

Take a look at highlights from our 2016 wearable tech runway show, behind-the-scenes, and interviews with designers and founders. Huge thanks to Absolut Canada for their continued sponsorship of MakeFashion and the maker community.

Video: MakeFashion Designer Kathryn Blair

Learn more about Kath Blair, a returning MakeFashion designer since 2013, and creator of “Positive Feedback” in this video by Paul Spenard.

MakeFashion Butterfly Dress

The Orange Tip Butterfly dress by Rainbow Winters changes colour in response to water and rain. This wearable technology blends into any garden party, featuring cutting-edge wearable technology innovation.


Rainbow Winters for MakeFashion

Photography by Kelly Hofer: kellyhofer.com

Rainbow Winters (Amy Winters) is based in London, UK. The Irish/Swiss artist graduated from Central Saint Martin’s in 2006 with a BA in Theatre Design. Rainbow Winters gives the ‘wow’ factor to the entertainment, fashion and advertising industries with interactive wearable design. Rainbow Winters has a radically different approach to wearables, fusing the cutting edge of science with the high-art of fashion to create visually stunning pieces especially made for music videos, rock-concerts, award-ceremonies, advertisements, magazine editorial and red-carpet events. This is Rainbow Winters first year with MakeFashion.

Wearable Technology for Make Fashion by Laura Dempsey

MakeFashion Spotlight: Proxima

MakeFashion Spotlight is an insider’s look on our 2014 gala pieces. Follow us as we showcase each of our designers and the inspiration and technology behind their work. Photos by Edward Ross photography.

The Proxima Team is Laura Dempsey,  Hannah Newton, Ben Reed, Dan Damron and Chris Zaal at the SAIT RADLab. Laura Dempsey grew up in Calgary and has lived in Europe and the U.S. She is currently completing a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University in Toronto.

“I came across Calgary’s maker community while on the hunt for a laser cutter I could use for an art project. Through contacts at Protospace (a maker space in Calgary), I attended MakeFashion’s launch event, and decided to apply as a designer. I couldn’t be happier to have stumbled upon this community!

My design partner Hannah and I have collaborated on wearable art in the past, and this is our second year designing for MakeFashion. During the inaugural year, I created a motion-sensitive dress for dancer Sarah Curts that lit up based on her movements, and Hannah hand-crafted an amazing head-piece. A video of the dress can be viewed here.

Last year I chose a simple concept of movement-based light, but this year we wanted to create a more sophisticated and interactive narrative.

Proxima is about a love story. We wanted to create a physical manifestation of the ‘electricity’ produced between two lovers as they move closer to one another.


Technology used in Proxima includes:

Thingmagic M6e UHF RFID Reader

Beaglebone Black

2x 5V 3A regulators

2x 7.4V LiPo Battery Packs

TP-Link WiFi Dongle

WS2811 Addressable LEDs

Teensy 3.0


The seed of the idea for this year’s grew out of an idea about proximity, and how a garment might react to the presence of another person. We (Ben Reed and I) had several introductory discussions about the initial idea, what was possible and the type of technology that might be appropriate. As I’m currently living in Toronto and the RADLab is in Calgary, we had to make the most of our limited collaboration sessions.

The jacket went through several iterations before I finalized the style, but once that was done we moved forward quickly. I couriered the jacket to Calgary (where all of the LEDs, wiring and equipment were mounted on the coat and tested) and – due to my school schedule – flew into Calgary just two days before the show to construct the rest of the garment with Hanna’s help. It was a marathon!

Proxima: Wearable Technology that interacts based on proximity.


Photos by Andras Schram

The jacket has been programmed to light up based on the proximity of RFID tags hidden within the male dancer’s costume, meaning that during the show it lit up only in his presence. The closer he came to the female dancer, the more the lights sparkled. The jacket was programmed to respond not only to proximity, but also directionality. So, when our dancers Megan and Ben faced each other, the front of Megan’s jacket lit up, and as she moved around him, the light would follow whichever part of her body was closest to his.

After the show, Ben Reed and his team re-programmed the jacket to light up with different colours based on the type of tag being held up to it. It allowed audience members to directly interact with the piece, which was really exciting.

Collaborating from a distance (I’m based in Toronto, Hannah lives in Vancouver and the RADLab is in Calgary) was challenging, as was my lack of sophisticated technical knowledge. It was also hard to conceptualize where all of the technology could fit into the jacket without ruining the aesthetic. Everything came together in the end, though!

Working with Ben, Dan and Chris at the SAIT RADLab was incredible. They made this piece come to life in a way I could never have done on my own. They also had great insights into possibilities I had not previously considered. It was really inspiring working with people whose skill sets are so different from my own.

I see great potential for wearable technology to be incorporated into dance performances. I always knew the performance would be a duet between two dancers. I think part of the beauty of wearable technology is in the story it can tell onstage, so that was a huge focus for this piece.

I like the idea of people connecting through spontaneous interaction – that something you’re wearing might light up based on the proximity of another like-minded person (whom you not have even met yet).

My advice to new MakeFashion designers is to jump in head first. Start with a simple idea, do research and ask for help often. You’ll find it.

Hannah and I are already scheming for next year’s show. We’re thinking of moving away from LEDs and looking into servos. That’s all I’ll say!”

– Laura Dempsey, returning designer for MakeFashion two years in a row.

Media on Proxima:

RFID Journal: Designer Has RFID Up Her Sleeve


The 2014 MakeFashion gala brought to you by OnConference in March 2014 had over 400 attendees and showcased an inspiring collection of local and international wearable technology. E-mail info@makefashion.ca for information on how to become involved as a volunteer, designer, tech enthusiast, or sponsor.

MakeFashion Spotlight: Illuminated Vintage

MakeFashion Spotlight is an insider’s look on our 2014 gala pieces. Follow us as we showcase each of our designers and the inspiration and technology behind their work.


Video by Paul Spenard


Illuminated Vintage was created by Amie Mae, Stacey Morgan, Kenzie Housego and Dan Demron.

“We are all originally from Alberta; Stacey Morgan and Amie Mae grew up in Calgary. Kenzie Housego is from Northern Alberta, and moved to Calgary in 2005 to attend art school. We believe Calgary is an exciting place to be right now for the arts. There is always new events and projects happening.Calgary seems to be a close net arts community, that is welcoming and collaborative.

MakeFashion 2014 was our first introduction to wearable technology. Amie, Stacey, and Kenzie all met completing their Bachelors for Fine Arts from the Alberta Collage of Art and Design. Amie majored in Jewellery and metal smithing, Stacey was in the Fibre program and Kenzie was in the Print Media department. Stacey participated in numerous wearable art shows at ACAD and Art Central, and continues to create event and wedding dress as well as other commission garments.

We created a collaborative four-look wearable art collection drawing inspiration from vintage styles, combined with 21st century wearable tech. This team looked to incorporate, accessories, feathers, light, sensors, and robots, all informed by a sophisticated, contemporary hybrid sensibility. Each piece used technology and design in a unique way while belonging together in one solid aesthetic collection.

We started with vintage inspiration images of styles, hats and accessories. Stacey drafted several dress designs and through multiple conversations we stream lined our concept and decided to focus on a featuring a specific colour per look. Which really help us as individual artists create a coherent collection .


MakeFashion Illuminated Vintage

The gold look is a romantic design inspired by the decadence of the 20’s. The dress created by Stacey is a bias cut satin design, based on the the popular lingerie style of the time. The gold created by Amie attempted to pick up in this romantic mood by incorporating transparency and light. This hat also includes a light feature is the brim of the hat that pulses to the wearers heat beat.

The red look represent a more 40s – 50s look with a classic shirt dress design with lily pad lights and an avant-garde hat featuring EL wire and multiple light accents. (Hat by Amie, Dress by Stacey)

The green look definitely inspired by a garden party 50s them. This dress has a sweetheart neckline decorated with the lily pad twinkles, and a sexy exposed mid-drift adding a contemporary sensibility. (Hat by Kenzie & dress by Stacey)

The pink look was inspired by the show Mr. Selfridges featured in the 1910s world war one. The multiple tears of the skirt were accented with under-lighting which created an individual spot light for the wearer. The hat for this look used audio circuit technology, which pulsed to in a pink/purple spectrum to music. This model carried a pink feather fan that used gyro scope and programable LED, that light up with the users movements. (hat by Kenzie & Dress by Stacey)

When we spoke to the team about using accessories and as a large component to our pieces, they mentioned that one of their engineers was building robots! The idea of accessory pets was interesting to us and we decided to partner up with Dan Demron.

As this was our first time working with wearable tech, there definitely was a learning curve, in that within our planning stage we did not initially think about concealing cords, housing batteries, while allowing for the movement of the wearer. We learned a lot through working with the technology, and there were several instances where we needed needed to come up with creative solutions, to keep the integrity of our concept.”


The 2014 MakeFashion gala brought to you by OnConference in March 2014 had over 400 attendees and showcased an inspiring collection of local and international wearable technology. E-mail info@makefashion.ca for information on how to become involved as a volunteer, designer, tech enthusiast, or sponsor.


Wearable Tech Wedding Dress for Make Fashion

MakeFashion Spotlight: Biomimetic Bride

Biomimetic Bride was created by Catherine Hazin, Kelly Hofer & Dianne Gibson.


Video by Paul Spenard
Catherine Hazin is originally from Edmonton and moved to Calgary to attend ACAD in 1997.

“I have an interdisciplinary BFA from ACAD, and my major was metalsmithing, and my minor was textiles. I have always had a passion for fashion design, in particular wearable art. I owned a jewellery design business for 10 years, and taught metalsmithing for 3 years before changing careers to work for the Alberta Ballet. I now work as Editor of Luxe, and Senior Writer for Calgary Bride. I am co-owner of Metalabs, an artistic production company.

I have been involved with MakeFashion since approximately November 2013, shortly after Endeavor Arts hosted an art exhibition which I curated for the Canadian Space Society titled “Revolutions”. I happily assumed the role of Fashion and Performance Coordinator for MakeFashion because of my love for performance art, fashion design, artistic direction and of course an interest in technology.

Bride Wearables Dress for MakeFashion

Photos by Andras Schram

Our piece had many sources of inspiration, and it transformed many times from its conception to its realization. It was at an el-wire workshop hosted by Endeavor where I first met and approached Kelly to form a design team. I (a novice to electronics) had a very basic idea for a space inspired garment that used accelerometers and proximity sensors. Kelly, who was more familiar with electronics, had an idea for a dress inspired by jelly fish, roots, and utilized modern fiber optic technology and a pulse sensor. Finally, after many inspired discussions and countless hours researching ideas and modern designs, we agreed that we would both really like to make a wedding dress! We promptly went to Cats Eye Vintage, and also to Cameo and Cufflinks, and we searched for dresses for inspiration, then we hunted down fabrics and other materials for weeks afterwards. Kelly designed 3D printed modules which were printed by Shannon Hoover to connect the high powered LED lights to the fibre optic bundles, and I designed a contemporary wedding gown, with feather flourishes. We asked Diane Gibson to join our team on January 17. She expertly built a beautiful white satin corset and belt for our ensemble, a foundation for us to create upon.


Technology used in this piece includes:

Fibre Optic Cable

High Powered, individually addressable, LED strips

Pulse sensor

LED strands


The final dress design was arrived at by Catherine Hazin, with couture corset and tech belt by Diane Gibson, technology design, assembly, and 3D printing by Kelly Hofer, Leaf shaped bustle by Lia Golemba, model Katherine Mandolidis.

The Biomimetic Bride was modeled by dancer, Katherine Mandolidis, from Trip The Light Dance and Performance Company. I do often love to use professional dancers whenever possible, as I find that they are dynamic and innovative and offer a storytelling element. I am a great supporter of performance art and dance in particular, and I love to find new ways to combine dance with other art forms.

Our biggest challenge was time, and trying to decide between too many amazing ideas. Other than that, we had the ultimate team and could not be happier with the entire process.

It was an amazing experience collaborating with an experienced and passionate technologist and an expert corsettiere on a wedding gown. I learned more in a few months than I could have ever imagined. I think it may have given me a false sense of power however, as I am now convinced that we can make anything….”

– Catherine Hazin is a 2014 designer and the MakeFashion Performance and Fashion Coordinator


The 2014 MakeFashion wearable technology show brought to you by OnConference in March 2014 had over 400 attendees and showcased an inspiring collection of local and international wearable technology. E-mail info@makefashion.ca for information on how to become involved as a volunteer, designer, tech enthusiast, or sponsor.