During a whirlwind 3-day visit to Shenzhen, China, MakeFashion shared a booth with Tricia Flanagan from the Wearables Lab. Tricia’s work (including Blinklifier displayed at our 2014 gala) was displayed along with Tech Tie (Jeff De Boer) and Illuminated Vintage (Kenzie Housego, Amie May, Stacey Morgan & Dan Damron). The pieces were a huge hit, described as the “coolest pieces” by Seeed Studio (a major 2014 gala sponsor).
The MakeFashion team explored manufacturing opportunities for future projects and connected with international members of the Maker and fashion scene.
“On our way here we came through Hong Kong – a true metropolis, with the diversity and range you’d expect from a world class city, from the seedy bits to the over the top luxury. Crossing into mainland China felt like a bit like we were inside of a dated movie on the communist state, that notion was quickly dispelled as soon as we exited the secure area and walked outside. We were greeted by beautiful architecture and a very modern urban city. The 40 minute drive to the Maker Faire venue was no different, it was like the whole city was an ultra-modern, urban downtown that sprawled over huge area – you can’t help but get the idea that Shenzhen is a happening place.
The booths were outdoor but canopied, which is fortunate since rain is common this time of year, and as a Mini Maker Faire producer myself I couldn’t help but look around and wonder at how much all the custom printed signage, scaffolding and draping would have cost if we were at a similar event in the US. When the Faire opened in the morning our booth was immediately swamped, my sense was the majority of the attendees were local families, business people and students, but there was plenty of international flavour as well. We were approached by app developers, incubators, crowd funders, and offers of international collaboration. We met plenty of people either from, or connected to Silicon valley as well as others from across North America, Asia and Europe.
Most of the booths themselves had a decidedly business bend to them – it was certainly maker culture, but there was a real awareness of the innovative potential and financial optimism pervading through the area. For most of the day our booth had people lined up about 3 layers deep with umbrellas colliding as people jockeyed for better positioning so see what it was we were showing. Even when the rain got really serious and the crowds lightened up a bit we always had at least one row of people asking questions and looking around.
I love going to Maker Faires – especially the minis where you always get to see creativity and ingenuity rarely influenced by consideration of financial potential, but I have to say I think I’m a bit in love with Shenzhen. There exists a feeling optimism that we aren’t only able to do cool things that can change the world, but that there are real economic benefits that come with it as well, and that things like borders and cultures aren’t impediments to collaboration, rather an opportunity for us all to share what we know and become richer for the experience.
If this event is any indication of what is going on here, China is not only welcoming Makers, but ready to lead as well!”
– Shannon Hoover
Maker Faire Shenzhen was the first full-scale Maker Faire in China, recognizing the international significance of Shenzhen as a hub for makers. Shenzhen is a special economic zone within China and a rapidly booming commercial manufacturing center.
MakeFashion plans to attend the Maker Faire in the Bay Area on May 17th & 18th.
Have an event you think is a good fit for MakeFashion’s creative and innovative wearbles? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. MakeFashion is also seeking sponsors and investors to support our designers and makers as leaders in the wearable technology space.