October 2, 2014

MBF Profiles: Amanda Parkes

A few weeks ago, we attended Manufacture New York's 2nd Anniversary Party and had the pleasure of speaking to the Chief of Technology and Research, Amanda Parkes. With over 10 years of experience in wearable technology as a Fashion Technologist and Biomedia Designer, Amanda and her team at Manufacture New York are making revolutionary breakthroughs for emerging designers in the fashion industry.

photo via Peter Roessler

MBF: What has Manufacturer New York evolved into?

Amanda Parkes: Tonight, we are celebrating our 2nd anniversary, and it’s the one-year anniversary of our pallet space in midtown. But, tonight we are really celebrating the future of our Brooklyn facility. So, things are underway to open a 160,000 sq. ft. down in Sunset Park. It will house 30- 35 emerging design labels, as well as 110, 000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space and a R&D lab for new textile and fashion research.

MBF: Since you are the Chief Technology Officer, can you talk a little more about new textiles relating to technology?

AP: We are seeing a new rise in wearables. But, right now they are limited to things like bracelets, things that are closer to devices like phones than clothing. There is a mismatch between being able to develop circuits that are actually part of fabric and fiber and incorporating components and batteries into actual clothing. And that’s where I see the next generation of wearables coming from, and that’s what our lab will be focused on. We have to go back to material science and fibers and develop from there. We are also looking at creating sustainable fabric and see what we can do with things like bacterial cellulose, all different kinds of cilium and all new kinds of materials as well as looking at fabric innovations. We hear a lot about 3-D printing, but it really hasn’t reached this whole area of soft materials yet. That’s an unexploited area as well. But, there’s no reason why we can’t start to think about shifting those kinds of machines and so there’s ideas to really look at advancing fabrication techniques and applying them into textiles.

photo via Manufacture NY

MBF: The start up we are working on is on the frontier of technology. What do you think of this big wave coming with fashion and technology?

AP: We need that innovation from the ground up around components. It cannot just be driven by large tech companies, we need some of it to be driven by designers to think about the innovation around aesthetics and the use and the functionality – which designers are so good at understanding the body, which technologists are not, as well as this whole body of materials which needs to be developed. I was at MIT for about 6 years getting my PhD, so I was entrenched in this area of new technology interfaces and infrastructures.

MBF: Are you funded?

AP: Yes, we are. We are under contract for a few different things, which we can’t quite announce yet. We are also doing a separate, private raise. And then we also will be announcing tonight, for example, that we have won a $50,000 grant from a growth accelerator competition from the Small Business Administration. So, we have a series of grants in play at various levels of government and then a private raise as well. 

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