Dr. Amanda Parkes
Chief Innovation Officer, Future Tech Lab
Dr. Amanda Parkes is a fashion scientist with over 15 years of experience in wearable technology, interaction design, robotics, smart materials and fashion innovation spanning research, development, and product commercialization for start ups and major tech and fashion companies. She is currently the Chief Innovation Officer of Future Tech Lab, a hybrid experimental lab, investment fund and agency focused on the future of sustainable and interactive fashion and material design. As an academic, she serves as a Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Lab and an Adjunct Professor in the Columbia University Department of Architecture. She received a PhD & M.S. in Tangible Media from the MIT Media Lab and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Art History from Stanford University. She is an international speaker & lecturer including TED, DLD, PSFK, the World Economic Forum and the New York Times International Luxury Conference. She has been named to the Business of Fashion 500 People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry, Vanity Fair’s 8 Wildest Women of Silicon Valley, The Glossy 50: Fashion’s Digital Front Runners, a Verizon Pioneer of Humanability and as one of Alleywatch’s 10 Most Influential People in Fashion Technology.
In this masterclass we speak with Dr. Amanda Parkes, Chief Innovation Officer of Future Tech Lab. FTL is a venture which gives investment, mentorship and valuable connections to start-up companies who “have the potential to lead the transition of the fashion and apparel industries towards a more sustainable future.” Dr. Parkes speaks with us about some of the most exciting actors in fashion and technology today and shares with us her predictions on the future of the field. Looking through both a science and fashion industry lense, Dr. Parkes offers exciting insight into the renewed intersections between these two fields, and what our own interactions with these technologies may be in the future.
Amanda’s ‘Top Five’
Learn about Amanda’s “model start-up” Evrnu, by visiting their website and for the latest on their upcoming collaborations: http://www.evrnu.com/#intro.
Check out Orange Fiber’s collaboration with fashion brand, Salvatore Ferragamo, and more about their fabrics, impact and future at: http://orangefiber.it/en/.
MycoWorks, makers of Mycelium leather, is a start-up which makes leather out of the root structure of mushrooms. View their process at: https://www.mycoworks.com/.
Bolt Threads harnesses “proteins found in nature to create fibers and fabrics with both practical and revolutionary uses, starting with spider silk” Learn more about them at: https://boltthreads.com/.
Through biotechnology, PILI creates natural dyes by merging the “performance of the chemical industry with the renewability of biology” to create a less toxic, cleaner future in clothing dyes: https://www.pili.bio/.
“New materiality [means] that we can program materials to know when they will ‘dissolve’. So if something needs to last forever we [should] build it out of a material that will last forever. But if something needs to be disposable, it should be [made] of something that will naturally decompose. Which is why plastic is such a huge design failure. It’s supposed to be disposable. But in most situations it’s the material that lasts the longest in the world.”
Technology in Sustainable Fashion
In Dr. Parkes’ lecture about sustainable technology, she cites a number of promising projects which academia, the private sector, among others are exploring to advance the future of fashion. Among these research ventures are companies exploring biofabricated solutions for complex industrial problems created when manufacturing and producing fashion products. Biofabrication for fashion is a series of scientific explorations to harness natural ‘technologies’ or ‘products’ without further depleting or harming the planet’s natural resources. Companies such as EvrNu, MycoWorks, Bolt Threads, Orange Fiber among others, are at the vanguard of biofabrication technologies for fashion, offering fresh and sustainable solutions to eliminating waste, reducing toxicity, promoting animal rights and beyond.
Dr. Parkes also gives a snapshot of the ebb and flow of progress towards a breakthrough in wearable technology and where the science stands today. Though products like FitBit and other wearable sports bands have become popular, this is among the only current marketplace extensions for wearable technology. She confirms that the technology has not yet “fully blended, seamlessly with textiles, and become soft” and that the current research is looking to advance the chips, fiber and nanotechnology developments to integrate into paradigm-shifting future products . She cites Levi’s x Project Jacquard as the “tip of the iceberg” into what wearable technology could look like in the future.
And finally, Dr. Parkes discusses her company, Future Tech Lab’s unique role in the venture capital space. Invested in fashion, technology and innovation specifically, it is working to promote connections between industries and fields and give funding to very worthy science-based companies working towards a better, brighter future in fashion.
How do you think technology will change the future landscape of fashion?
Which of the start-up companies Dr. Parkes mentions in her interview excites you the most?
Which of the products would you most like to wear?
What fashion and technology topic would you like to learn more about?
Continue Your Learning
To learn more about the awesome and important work of Future Tech Lab, please visit their website: http://ftlab.com/
Project Jacquard from Google x Levi’s. Learn more at their website: https://atap.google.com/jacquard/
A leading conference on “grown materials,” Biofabricate is a yearly conference in Brooklyn, New York which hosts some of the most cutting-edge thought leaders and companies in the space: https://www.biofabricate.co/.
Check out Yulex, a neoprene alternative developed by Patagonia.
Spinnova: http://www.spinnova.fi/ wood-based fiber which could prove a sustainable alternative to viscose.
Article abstract on Ioncell-F, a potential new alternative to viscose and Tencel
Pure Waste Textiles uses “textile waste… and recycles it into sustainable products”: http://www.purewastetextiles.com/
Worn Again has a “pioneering polymer recycling technology can separate, decontaminate and extract polyester polymers, and cellulose from cotton, from non-reusable textiles and PET bottles and packaging and turn them back into new textile raw materials.” Check out their website at: http://wornagain.info/
Infinited Fiber has “a technology that allows textile waste to be used again and again.” Visit their website at: http://infinitedfiber.com/.