Wild About Prints and Wearable Tech: Geek Chic Column

As a young woman growing up in the Middle East, I always dreamt of France and Italy as the true centers of fashion. It wasn’t until I lived and worked in Parisian luxury houses that I discovered just how magnificent Middle Eastern fashion truly was. Given this edition’s focus on World Fashion, I thought I would take a look at women in the Middle East who are making disruptive contributions to Geek Chic culture.

Let’s start in Beirut, Lebanon, where a 21-year-old entrepreneur, Hiba Kadri, is paving the way for fashion tech companies in the Middle East. Hiba founded Young Wilderness, a women’s apparel e-commerce, where she makes printed leggings, bodies, crop tops, exclusive sexy black and sheer leggings called the Black Pack and a large selection of authentic one-piece-only vintages. If you ask most Lebanese Millennial, the way Hiba and her partner Yasmine Kara got famous was through rather “geeky” methods!

Photos of Hiba Kadri and Yasmine Kara

Hiba Kadri and Yasmine Kara, Co-Founders of Young Wilderness

Young Wilderness started building hype on Instagram before knowing where the brand was headed or even having a product at hand. They posted fashion inspirations, items they wished they could have in Lebanon, along with quotes and behind-the-scenes images of what they were making – even engaging their newly-found audience in the choices of prints and cuts. With only four months in the market, Young Wilderness has reached more than 1,462 followers on Instagram and 4,527 likes on Facebook.

Young Wilderness Apparel

Young Wilderness Apparel and Instagrams

Young Wilderness Apparel

A key to their success includes their innovative approach to trusting their customers and providing a unique service. Young Wilderness clients can order items without any payment or commitment, and pay in cash upon receiving the goods.

Hard at work at expanding their collection into men’s and more variety in women’s wear, Hiba and Yasmine want to provide their customers with more choices in how they can make their outfits more unique at affordable prices. There is nothing Middle Eastern Millennial find more annoying than finding something they really want and not being able to have it.

Heading west in the Middle East, we reach Turkey where there is a strong presence of phenomenal fashion designers, and a recent shift in trend from virtually no female participation in technology to a growing number of talented women who are shaping the convergence of fashion and tech.

One great example is the chic and ever elegant Ayse Ildeniz. Prior to Ms. Ildeniz’s current role as vice president of the New Devices Group and general manager of Strategy and Business Development at Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, Ms. Ildeniz served as the Intel Turkey country manager, and marketing director for the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa region heading over 67 countries.

Ayse IldenizHer achievements could use an entire edition of FSHN to cover, but what is most exciting to us is that Ms. Ildeniz is currently heading up Intel’s collaboration with Barneys New York, Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and Opening Ceremony to create what I foresee as the most stunning wearable technology bracelet in the market. Since this collaboration was announced in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), many speculations have been made, so I took it upon myself to ask Ms. Ildeniz a few questions that I knew you would want to know:

1. Were you the initiator of this innovation? What made you think of the idea?
I was part of a very talented team who was behind the collaborations with Opening Ceremony, Barneys New York, and CFDA. Smart fashion is a long-term strategy for Intel. We live in a world in which consumers want access to data 24/7, and the most logical way to deliver a seamless experience is to integrate this into accessories and clothing. We also know that for a person to wear technology it must look good – people are passionate about what they put on themselves, they have a strong emotional connection to these devices. Thus, technology and fashion houses/designers must begin to collaborate to make the vision a reality.

Currently, much of the wearable technology revolution is driven by technology companies, and we believe fashion houses and designers should be in the driving seat in designing wearable technologies.

2. Do you think this will be a bracelet embraced by the tech chic fashionistas, or given that it is being designed by Opening Ceremony, will the main audience be the elegant corporate shoppers?
We admire Opening Ceremony’s philosophy in establishing new norms and its open, global approach toward design by embracing other design houses within their own retail stores, which complements Intel’s focus on innovation and support of open standards. We believe designs from Opening Ceremony will appeal to fashionistas and corporate users alike.

3. When can we expect our first bracelet?
The intent is to bring the smart bracelet to market later in the year. We are now working with Opening Ceremony on next steps of designing the product.

4. Will you and your team be personally involved in the design direction, or will your role focus purely on the technology?
Yes, functionalities of the design go hand in hand with aesthetics. For example, performance, battery life, size, and features will impact on the aesthetic design of the product. Our team of technology experts will be working with Opening Ceremony closely on coming up with a design.

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