Muchaneta Kapfunde is a distinguished pioneer at the forefront of the convergence of fashion and technology. Her interest in fashion sparked during childhood but her fascination for wearable technology emerged during her 20s as she realized its potential. After graduating from the University of Arts, in London, she progressed to become a leading proponent of fashion technology, and was subsequently featured in Wareable, Elle, Huffington Post, and TechCrunch, and many more. She dissects the avant-garde wearable fashion technology in her website FashNerd, and presents it in a relevant yet compelling way. When asked about what the term “FashNerd” means to her, Muchaneta briefly explained how the common crowd commonly failed to comprehend the importance of utilizing technology in fashion: “The problem was that there was no one out there really translating all the great things happening in the fashion tech space in a way that got people excited. So FashNerd was born. In a way, we are like a bridge between fashion and technology.”
The Founding Editor in Chief at FashNerd.com took us through what had inspired her to launch the site, sharing that it was predominantly due to the absence of websites or blogs that successfully merged fashion and technology. Muchaneta also addressed the fact that the online fashion presence was extensively focused on retail technology, which is currently a booming industry. She addresses this using a simplified, yet engaging style of writing on FashNerd.com, the platform is able to reach consumers who might not have a tech background or know about wearable technology. FashNerd.com expanded rapidly and within a year, had a following of 60,000 readers. Consequently, the site has really high engagement and audience retention as FashNerd ensured the presence of a niche community and targeted them effectively. In her recent visit to Bangladesh, she attended the Bangladesh Fashionology Summit as a keynote speaker and delivered a remarkable speech about tech-driven apparel and successful manufacturing. In our conversation, she sheds some light on the boons of integrating technology in Bangladesh’s textile industry.
Presently, Bangladesh is the second largest apparel exporter in the world, after China. Do you think that might change if we are reluctant to embrace technology?
I think that would change. Anybody who is reluctant to embrace technology will be left behind because that is where we are headed. It is a little different this time but manufacturing technology has been implemented for decades. And those who don’t embrace it or the ones who stay the same will lose customer base because technology is a tool that people use to enhance their businesses. It's not replacing or taking over anything. It's simply a device that makes our life more convenient and that is exactly what wearable or fashion technology is. We're at the centre of this technological revolution and Bangladesh needs to revamp its manufacturing technology in order to have an edge in the international market. However, I also realize that finances make a substantial difference. It's obviously a huge investment and insensible for businesses to put into practice overnight. Having said that entrepreneurs should be open to change and progress will take place gradually.
Fashion technology is a very progressive field. New and better machineries are hitting the market regularly. Will a current investment in fashion tech be feasible in the long run? Since new and upgraded tech will be available in the near future, and possibly at a cheaper rate.
Yes, for sure. Since it is a heavy investment, businesses are uncertain whether it will be cost effective or not. To this I always say, think about the first cellphone which was very expensive; it was an investment and not everybody was able to afford it. Now, however, everyone has a phone no matter where in the world. That’s exactly what’s happening in the fashion space now. Not everything in fashion technology is affordable. Even though it is expensive, it’s showing us how fashion is proceeding, and that it will become affordable in the near future. In terms of manufacturing, it will become more accessible in time.
[caption id="attachment_258462" align="alignright" width="218"] Syed Zakir Hossain [/caption]
It's not replacing or taking over anything. It's simply a device that makes our life more convenient and that is exactly what wearable or fashion technology is
Do you think the implementation of fashion technology will increase the unemployment levels, especially when a large portion of our workforce is employed in the RMG industry?
No, I don’t think that. It is most likely that workers will not be replaced. It's all about retraining your staff and enhancing their skills. So, for me, it’s not about replacement but rather about making the job much easier and getting rid of human error. Training the staff in order to fit in with this technological change is essential to increase our efficiency. In retrospect, the advent of manufacturing technology 10 to 30 years ago did not lead to workers being laid off. So it’s not really about robots replacing the workforce but about the betterment of the employee’s work environment, with the motive of achieving the utmost productivity levels. After all, technology is a tool used to make our lives more convenient. I wouldn’t say unemployment would increase drastically in the RMG sector.
Muchaneta emphasizes that the application of this technology in our RMG sector would bring about vast improvements but the transition will have to occur gradually. The process would yield substantial results if utilized appropriately. To aspiring “fashnerds” she says: “Make mistakes and learn from them. It makes you better at what you want to do. Never let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do.”