Fashion Magazine

MAKEFASHION: Wearable Technology Meets High Fashion

By Lesassorties @LesAssorties

MakeFashion began as a side project between a trio of Calgarian friends in June 2012 with the aim to explore the potential of bridging the gap between fashion and cutting-edge electronics. The show introduces designers, engineers, and makers to the exciting world of wearables through a series of informative, designer-lead workshops. During these four years, the show has produced over 30 wearable tech garments, and showcased annually at their own gala in Calgary, Canada, and at over 20 international events in fashion capitals such as New York, Rome and Shenzhen. Having recently staged their latest show in their native Canada on April 2, we caught up with Chelsea Klukas, one third of the team, to discuss putting together a show, innovation in their field, and their ultimate goal for MakeFashion.


Ex Machina for MakeFashion is an entire costume serving as a way to create a cyborg alter ego that is beyond human both visually and in terms of movement and sound creation.
Ex Machina | Designer: Angela Dale | Model: Christina Robertson | Photography: Kelly Hofer

What is your background and how did you become interested in wearable tech?

MakeFashion was founded by three Calgarians: Shannon Hoover, Maria Hoover, and Chelsea Klukas. We had a mix of art, tech and fashion backgrounds and networks. We noticed that wearables were gaining popularity, but that most of them were lacking creativity and fashion relevance. We gathered a team of engineers, makers, designers, and artists and worked with them to produce our first fashion show. Four years later, we have become an international leader, putting Calgary on the map as a leading wearable tech innovation hub.


Designs inspired by an ancient snow queen.
Flower Queen | Designer: Kiki for Ever | Model: Maria Korubska | Hair: Natasha-ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Janet Dyer | Photography: Zev Vitaly Abosh

Tell us a few words on your recent tech gala!

At our recent gala, we showcased over 30 wearable tech garments at Calgary’s Telus Spark. We highlighted a range of backgrounds, from students brand new to wearables to international experts.


A neo illuminated artwork that fuses technology and fashion.
Geometrical Cells – Contact | Designer: Erina Kashihara | Models: Alvaro and Alejandra Pereira | Hair: Jason Mellor-Love Hair By J | Makeup: Vjosa Asani | Photography: Kelly Hofer

Are there other ways you can promote your cause besides staging shows?

We have a large online presence, and provide inspiration to designers and makers across the globe. We are also looking at producing and selling accessories and DIY wearables kits in the future.


Lumen Couture is a self-contained projection-mapped garment featuring a fully-customizable projection interface controlled by an iphone, all contained in a hat.
Lumen Couture | Designers: Chelsea Klukas and Chris Corner | Motion Graphics: Michael Mateyko (KOMBOH) | Model: Michèle Wienecke | Hair: Jason Mellor-Madd Pretty | Makeup: Jade Brunes-ONE Beauty Academy | Photography: Zev Vitaly Abosh

What is the most inventive garment you have seen so far?

That’s a tough question, since the bar for our projects is that they all must be inventive! This year we showcased a piece called “GamerGirls” by Phi: illuminated designs that featured a playable videogame on the front of the dress. We’ve also showcased dresses that respond to water and temperature. Our shows and performances incorporate storytelling, and a number of pieces have included proximity-sensing technology that react to the presence of another individual.


Inspired by a Japanese Doll who loves to sing and dance for children.
Japanese Doll | Designer: Kiki for Ever with Stephanie Krause, Nabeel Khan and Zyris Software | Model: Angelina Korchagina | Hair: Natasha-ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Janet Dyer | Photography: Kelly Hofer

You have taken your project around the world. Where would you say you have seen the highest innovation spirit?

I would debate this between a few places, Calgary, Bay Area, Shenzhen and Rome. As far as wearable technology goes, we now work with several designers and engineers that have shifted their careers because of MakeFashion. I have seen the potential and the direction Calgary is taking towards innovation in wearable technology and the impact those pieces have on viewers when we travel with them around the world. Bay Area has a larger pool of designers and engineers doing residencies every year, there are more resources and funding available for R&D from large companies like Intel and Autodesk, not to mention the large maker community plays a big role in fostering a strong innovation spirit. Lastly, Rome and Shenzhen; the spirit of innovation on all maker-related projects shown at their Maker Faires and the involvement and support they receive from the government to move forward is mind blowing.


Flora by House of Light is a FashionTech collection that focuses on the intersection of music, lighting and beautifully handcraft garments.
Pretty Flowers | Designers: House of Light by Maria Orduz | Model: Stephanie Mosher | Hair: Ashley Fehr-Lommer-ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Gabrielle Foisy | Photography: Zev Vitaly Abosh

Since you started, you have hosted many shows. Tell us a few words about your process – from the initial idea to the fulfillment of the show.

As Artistic Director, Catherine Hazin’s role is to manage and direct a large team of creative professionals to create a spectacle that will showcase each unique MakeFashion piece at a high production level. Her process begins with the lead designer of each official design team. She begins to get to know each of our teams and their projects early on in the year, and see their projects develop and change throughout the course of the year.
By about three months before the show, we usually have a pretty clear idea of what each piece represents to the lead designer, and we are able to set the tone for the production. We will have also added several non-sponsored design teams to the production and we will start getting to know each of them, but the show is primarily designed around our official teams.
We organize an annual model and talent search, from which we hand-pick our talent for all of our local shows – this includes models, dancers, circus performers, singers, you name it. Catherine also works closely with the hair and makeup artists, the DJ’s, our amazing video production team, and the runway and lighting design team to collect and implement all of the designer’s wishes into one cohesive production.


Cosmic Carbon is created using a combination of carbon fiber, fiber optics and electronics.
Light Corsets | Designers: Cosmic Carbon by Matt LaPrairie and Kevin Handcock | Models: Becka Berze and Vanessa Wedge | Hair: Natasha and Jason Mellor-Love Hair By J | Makeup: Yemi Isiakpere-Signature You | Photography: Kelly Hofer

Are fashion tech shows just for showcase or are buyers actually interested in buying these garments? What do you hope to get through every show?

Our projects are currently just for showcasing, we refer to them as “prototypes”. We focus on creativity and artistic vision rather than commercialization of our garments.


Flora by House of Light is a FashionTech collection that focuses on the intersection of music, lighting and beautifully handcraft garments.
House of Light | Designers: House of Light by Maria Orduz | Model: Luisa Steen | Hair: Ashley Fehr-Lommer-ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Gabrielle Foisy | Photography: Zev Vitaly Abosh

MakeFashion is in its fourth year. How have you evolved since your early beginnings?

Since we founded MakeFashion, we’ve had incredible growth. The quality and level of innovation in our projects has improved every year, and we continue to set the bar higher. We’ve also improved on the production value of our shows. Our first show hosted under 100 guests and had a small runway; our recent event hosted over 500 people including attendees and volunteers, and showcased over 30 garments.


In the natural world, persuasion comes in many forms, like an animal changing shape or color. Mimicking the magnificent mantis shrimp in action, this masculine finery aims to persuade.
Soft Power | Designers: Dystropolis by Eric Boyd and Wendy Ng | Models: Matt Blais and Jen Allen | Hair: Natasha with Jason Mellor | Makeup: Jade Brunes | Photography: Kelly Hofer

Is there an important milestone in your industry that we may totally ignore?

Despite the increasing accessibility of wearable tech, we still haven’t seen it become mainstream in fashion. The next milestone is seeing wearable tech incorporated into mid-priced streetwear.


Stardancers | Designer: Catherine Larose | Dancers: Trip The Light Dance Co. | Hair: Kelsey Yule – ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Michelle Suffolk-Walsh | Photography: Zev Vitaly Abosh

What is your ultimate goal for MakeFashion?

The foundation of MakeFashion is in creativity and innovation. We will continue to incubate innovation with new projects and elevate our designers and engineers with our world-class events. We are also beginning to think about bringing some of our products to consumers. Stay tuned, as we have exciting initiatives coming up!


Flora by House of Light is a FashionTech collection that focuses on the intersection of music, lighting and beautifully handcraft garments.
Pretty Flowers | Designers: House of Light by Maria Orduz | Model: Stephanie Mosher | Hair: Ashley Fehr-Lommer-ONE Beauty Academy | Makeup: Gabrielle Foisy| Photography: Kelly Hofer

MakeFashion is led by Shannon Hoover, Maria Hoover, Chelsea Klukas, and Catherine Hazi. Read more about their project and mission here.
Images © MakeFashion

On the feature image: “Gamergirls” feature 2 sleek feminine party dress, consisting of two dresses where the wearers are able to compete in a video game played out on the opposite person’s garment.
Gamergirls | Designer: Phi: Illuminated Designs by Stacey Morgan, Kenzie Housego, Sofia Amin | Models: Carolynne Scoffield and Eloise Yaskiw | Hair: Allison-Love Hair By J | Makeup: Tara Smith | Photography: Kelly Hofer

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