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Loomia Looks to the Future of Textiles

It’s been a whirlwind three weeks for Loomia.

First, Topshop revealed the Brooklyn-based start-up (then known as The Crated) had won its wearable technology program, Top Pitch, and that the two would partner to make mass-market smart apparel a possibility. And last Wednesday Loomia announced it had begun manufacturing and selling fabric wires, moved into a new office in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab, and had paired up with Manufacture New York to launch the Textile Futures Initiative.

“Some things that we’ve found are challenges to this space are soldering and wiring for manufacturing some of the apparel. There are additional challenges, of course, with batteries, with different protocols, but we’ve been looking at different ways that we can use fabric in a traditional way of circuitry,” explained Maddy Maxey, founder of Loomia, speaking last week at an industry-only event in New York City called “Synthesis Symposium.”

That’s where the idea for the fabric wire replacements came from. The product, which will ship next year and comes in a box of 10, is designed to integrate around the body with curved geometries for carrying current and data signals.

“Simplifying problems is always a way to help everyone move forward and understand what’s holding our space back,” Maxey continued, explaining that bringing together people who are working separately in areas of fiber science and circuitry makes sense of it, too. “Any one person doing any one of these things isn’t terribly useful unless there’s a bunch of people doing a bunch of these things, where they come together and make really great products that our parents can go buy.”

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She joked, “I always use parents as the benchmark because I’ll tell my family what I’m working on and they won’t understand until they see an article and all of a sudden it totally makes sense. So it has to be the sum of all parts to make sense to a lot of people.”

And that’s where Loomia’s partnership with Manufacture New York comes in. Maxey will serve as director of the Textile Futures Initiative, a nonprofit under the Manufacture Foundation, which will support research in fabrication with an emphasis on sustainability, technology and apparel. The aim of the initiative is to create an ecosystem for wearable tech R&D, where creative technologists receive grants to help bring their ideas to fruition and large companies can subscribe to receive quarterly insights—the first of which will be published in Q3 2017.

“The goal of the Textile Futures Initiative is to bring together people who are working with fabrics and physical materials and make sure that they can get the money that they need to do research and development in the space and feed that information back,” Maxey said.

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