The 2021 Fashion Tech Hackathon Goes International
The Fashion Tech Hackathon, a cross circular event hosted by the Kent State University School of Fashion, has been on an upward trajectory since its inception in 2013.
To comply with COVID-19 safety standards and procedures; the hackathon became a fully online, virtual event for the first time in eight years. The marathon-style competition empowers students to create a product in the form of a technology-enhanced garment or a wearable responsive web application. The ultimate goal of the event is for students to develop new skills in innovation and wearable technology that will help redefine the future of fashion.
Due in part to this year’s virtual premise, a record-breaking number of international students participated in the event, most from the comfort of their own homes. Over 160 students representing 34 countries and 119 universities worldwide took part in the competition.
“We were able to engage and collaborate with students and mentors around the globe,” said Fashion Tech Hackathon director, Margarita Benitez. “The networking and connections enabled through the virtual event became a highlight of this year’s hackathon, and we look forward to what the future holds!”
Teams entered themselves to be judged into seven award categories: The Connected Individual Challenge; The Connected Community Challenge; The LaunchNET MVP Award; CLO Best Use of Virtual Fashion; Best Domain Registered with Domain.com; The Eventys Partnership Mentorship Award; and Best Hardware Hack.
Any student enrolled in a college or university is eligible to participate in the hackathon. This year, each team consisted of two to five students; only one project per team was allowed. Students met and connected virtually using digital platforms like Slack and Devpost. Over $3,500 in prizes were awarded this year and split amongst the winning teams.
Winning the Connected Individual Challenge was team “c.a.r.e. bracelet” composed of Kent State fashion design and merchandising students, Phoebe Jane Alicardi, Venice Boysko and Leslie Sern. Said the team, “Our bracelet connects to the c.a.r.e. app which prompts the user to control anxiety symptoms through contacting a personal psychologist or loved one, supplying coping mechanisms, providing daily affirmations and giving personalized prompts.”
Team AMBEREX, made up of students Shahida Afrin, Esse Ogbaran and Nicholas Rocha, created “Calescent,” a connected glove capable of communicating with others, heating up the user, contact sharing and contactless payments. Their team won three awards: Best Connected Community Challenge, CLO Best Use of Virtual Fashion, and Best Domain Registered with Domain.com.
Students Asheq Ahmed, Gabrielle Hubert, Takuma K, Jingting Ma and Heeju Noe, won both the LaunchNET MVP Award and the Eventys Partners Mentorship Award, for their app “Fixable.” “Fixable” is an app that helps users connect with makers, such as designers, artisans, and seamsters, in local communities to mend, alter and re-design garments. Said the team, “The purpose of this platform is to reduce garment waste by extending the lifespan of clothing, and to create a strong community of like-minded individuals that value sustainability, slow fashion and making garments last.”
Also winning the Eventys Partners Mentorship award was team Life Patch. The team of Taylor Weaver, Lena Tirva and Klara Eleanor Underwood developed “Life Patch,” an upcycled coat that grows with the wearer for life. The coat features a basic bodice with extenders that can attach and detach around the waist, arms and torso.
The Best Hardware Hack award, sponsored by Digi-Key had two winning teams. “Smareable” developed by Arpita Mohanty, Sushree Satarupa, Dibyansika Biswal and Sayansree Paria, developed a smart, wearable heating pad that can be worn inside any type of clothing due to its slim fit technology.
“Buddy” created by siblings Jacquelyn, Ben and Will Sierzputowski, developed a fashionable, lightweight tech wristband aimed at helping anxiety sufferers. “Buddy” uses a heartbeat sensor that continuously tracks the wearer’s heartbeat to detect fast, abnormal spikes to notify the user of a potential anxiety attack.
To learn more about the winning products and teams, please visit the TechStyleLAB’s Instagram.
Each award was made possible by the 2021 Fashion Tech Hackathon sponsors Burton D. Morgan Foundation Grant, Kent State’s Design Innovation, The Kent State School of Fashion, TechStyleLAB, and LaunchNET.
The TechStyleLAB and the Fashion Tech Hackathon team will be hosting events throughout the year to harness that energy and promote further collaboration and exploration.
Said Benitez, “Together with many of our industry sponsors and partners such as Neural Trend and CLO 3D the options are endless!”
For more information on the Fashion Tech Hackathon, please visit their website, https://www.kent.edu/fashion/fashiontech-hackathon.
Image 1: c.a.r.e. Bracelet prototype.
Image 2: Life Patch coat prototype.