Fashioning the Future With: Clare Tattersall

Image/Clare Tattersall

Image/Clare Tattersall

Thundering three-cheese dip, have we got an exciting interview for you today! Clare Tattersall, the founder and CEO of ThunderLily and FashionTech.Design is on the blog, and ZOMG, she has some amazing insight, advice, and even info about a rad summer opportunity to share with us! Clare is a designer, herself, and she's dedicated to transforming the fashion industry to make the world a better place through processes that will reduce waste—and more!

Video/ThunderLily NYC

#TechForGood is our ethos at Style Engineers Worldwide, so we are totally on board with all the amazing work Clare is doing in the fashion tech space. We also love that Clare is a STEM advocate and educator who shares her expertise and knowledge with the designers of today and tomorrow!  

Speaking of designers of tomorrow, Clare has created the 2019 Fashion Technology & Design Summer Camp which will take place in New York City from July 22 through July 26. The camp is for girls ages 11-14 and will be taught by Clare, herself! During this immersive day camp, girls will learn, hands-on, all about wearable technology from programming to design and more. Campers will even create a unique fashion technology prototype project they can take home after the camp.

Registration is now open for the 2019 Fashion Tech & Design Summer Camp. All materials are included, and students just need to bring a laptop. For more details about this opportunity, follow this link, and read on to find out more about this sure to be empowering experience in Clare's own words below!  

We were so thrilled to ask Clare about her work with ThunderLily and FashionTech.Design, what she says to people who falsely dismiss fashion as trivial, how she defines her personal style, and all about how fashion can change the world for the better. Meet Clare Tattersall!

When were you first drawn to fashion design?

Creating has always been an essential part of my life. I started sewing when I was 6—and taught myself to make patterns when I was 10.  

What was the first item of clothing you created?

A pair of pants that I made from a roll of curtain lining. They must have looked really awful, but I proudly wore my creations.

Image/FashionTech.Design - student using a multimeter

Image/FashionTech.Design - student using a multimeter

What inspired you to create both ThunderLily and FashionTech.Design?

I was inspired to create ThunderLily to empower all the people in the journey that a piece of clothing takes, to bring them all together in one place. Designers could interact directly with producers and suppliers on a global scale, shoppers could connect directly with the designers and suppliers to create a custom garment. The entire process would happen online until a purchase was made, and only then would an actual garment be sewn. By digitizing the process we hoped to take our own small step to address the incredible waste in the garment industry.

I started FashionTech.Design because I consulted with so many designers that I felt were not excited about the Math and Technology of fashion. I am firmly right-brained, but I love how Math opens up the world for you and Technology is just another tool to help you create your vision. We all know the stats on girls in STEM subjects, so I wanted to share my passion with girls and young women to show them that there are options for learning tech and engineering, that are fun and creative.

Image/Courtesy of Clare Tattersall - fashion made using software

Image/Courtesy of Clare Tattersall - fashion made using software

What do you love most about the intersection of fashion and technology?

I love how fashion and technology can make the world a better place. I am super excited about 3D printing clothes, bio-fabrication and how technology and engineering are being used to find a better way to produce fashion. Fashion and technology also intersect in the health and fitness industries—from creating more adaptive clothing to finding solutions for medical problems.

How do you define your personal style?

Haute hippie. For my shopping preferences I aim for at least 90% fashion from independent designers. I like everything I wear to have a story and to know the story of everything I wear.

Video/ThunderLily NYC - how the software works

Can you describe how the very cool ThunderLily Software works?

The software is still in the alpha stage as we iron out some bugs then we can beta test in the public space. It is a fashion design software in 3 steps. The first step is pattern-drafting software, then draping the pattern on a 3D model and thirdly producing a virtual 3D garment. Our goal is sketch to launch in 24 hours at zero cost.

What do you say to people who [incorrectly] dismiss fashion as trivial?

I have many answers that dispute this. Firstly, it is a 23 trillion-dollar industry which is not trivial—how we can improve this industry to make it a better player environmentally is significant, it will affect our fresh water supply, the problem of landfill, working conditions, use of paper and fabric. 

Secondly, if you look at the verb “fashion” it means to make into a particular or the required form. Developments in fashion technology and engineering are gaining traction in the medical industry as inventions help shape the way some patients rehabilitate after surgery or illness. It is a broad field and there is so much opportunity for change here.

Thirdly, how we dress is creative expression, as important as the music we listen to or the books we read.

Image/FashionTech.Design - designing a jacket and programming it to change color as the wearer moves.

Image/FashionTech.Design - designing a jacket and programming it to change color as the wearer moves.

What are you most excited about now in the wearable tech world?

Everything is changing so fast that my answer today will probably be different in a month. I am excited about 3D printing clothes to reduce waste. I am excited to see what bio-fabrics are developed, for example Modern Meadow is growing leather in Brooklyn—can you imagine how many animal lives this could save and how much methane can be reduced? I am a snowboarder, runner, and mountain biker so I am also excited for the wearable technology that can help athletes learn about their bodies and improve their performance.

What do you think fashion technology and wearables will be five years from now?

I think the focus on sustainability and health will be at the forefront. I think the dichotomy between technology and environmentalism will be reimagined—I see fashion technology as being a central player in the health of humans and the planet. Technology will be responsible for returning us to traditional natural techniques and practices, but they will have been improved, more accessible and faster to market. 

Sustainability is so important as we face climate change. What is your personal take on the fashion industry’s responsibility to create better solutions for clothing production?

I think that consumers have tremendous power, so the responsibility starts with us. We need to be conscious of the story behind everything we wear. I am not a fan of fast fashion, I don't think it benefits anyone, it gives us lower quality clothing that has taken a toll on garment workers, the environment and does not provide us with much of value. Less is definitely more.

I think the fashion industry needs to change production processes, make them safer and cleaner but as long as we keep buying fast fashion, the industry will find quick ways to keep up with demand and you have a downward spiral. Let's all take responsibility for our choices.

Image/FashionTech.Designer’s Instagram post on the upcoming summer camp

Image/FashionTech.Designer’s Instagram post on the upcoming summer camp

What can kids look forward to in your FashionTech.Design immersive summer camp?

I am so excited for the summer, I love the intensity of a full week with a group of children, we can cover so much ground. 

We are going to learn iterative design, how to draft patterns, sew, code, learn to use sensors and microprocessors and apply them to the clothes that we have designed and made. The kids will be real designers, learning each step of the process, documenting, collaborating and justifying their work. At the end of a week they will take home a piece of wearable technology that they have designed and made.

What other kinds of programs can young people enroll in through FashionTech.Design?

During the year we work in schools and maker spaces. We are currently developing more options for more classes that are open to the public, like online classes and hack-a-thons.

What advice do you have for tweens and teens who want to go into fashion technology as a career?

Learn to code, set up a maker space in your room where you can tinker, take risks, mess up—failure is a great way to learn and hone your ideas. The most wonderful thing about the movement towards tinkering is that it is teaching us that things are not perfect first time around, and we have to keep trying to reach our goals.

Who in the fashion world (historical or modern day) inspires you?

I am really inspired by the unknown individual, the girl tinkering with a soldering iron and some LEDs on her kitchen table, the girl who is learning to code. The girl who looks for a new approach when her project just won’t work. You don’t have to be famous to achieve progress and push your learning beyond your comfort zone. Everyone who tries and tries again is a winner. 

Do you have any favorite fictional fashion designer characters in books/movies/other art forms?

I love the characters and stories in Style Engineers Worldwide and Tilly Tailor is a fantastic leader and role model. The series is so in-touch with the direction the wearable tech industry is going and how girls are leading the charge.

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

Image/Style Engineers Worldwide

If you were a superhero, what would your go-to wearable tech device be?

I love downhill mountain biking—but falling off my bike is not so much fun. I wear a helmet and body armor, of course, but if I had a watch that could emit a protective bubble when I fell it would be amazing. The bubble would be made from plant extracts so it would be completely bio-degradable. Then, as a super hero, I could use it to catch the very old, the very young or construction workers when they fall. No more broken bones.

Where can people find you online? (Web, Twitter, Instagram, YT, Github, Facebook, Patreon etc.)

To learn more about Clare Tattersall and her work, connect with her online here:

Web: https://thunderlily.com

Instagram: @thunderlilyNYC

Twitter: @thunderlilyNYC 

Web: https://fashiontech.design

Instagram: @fashiontechdesigner

Twitter: @fashtechdesign

Find out more about the 2019 Fashion Technology & Design Summer Camp here!