After meeting in a Women in Technology course at the University of Washington's School of Information, Makenzie Pletcher and Sim Singh connected over the way in which technology can empower and advance women. The juniors soon launched Techplusplus—an organization focusing on education and advocacy to help women integrate into the male-dominated tech industry.
On Friday, December 4, Techplusplus follows corporations like Microsoft and Apple (plus the Met Gala's 2016 theme) with a pursuit to merge tech and arts—specifically fashion. Their Launch Event and Fashion Show will showcase wearables including a sponsored piece from New York designer Francis Bitoni and 3D printed accessories.
Where did the passion to help women enter the tech industry derive from?
Makenzie Pletcher: In high school I took a lot of tech related classes. There was graphic design and web design class taught by a woman named Mrs. West. Not only did she teach me the fundamental of design and how to code, she taught me the importance of being the person you want to be. Even at sixteen the idea that technology is a man's field was already ingrained in my mind, but I thought to myself, "If Mrs. West can wear heels and look beautiful while knowing how to code and and do all sorts of cool techie things, then I can too."
Sim Singh: In high school I took one computer class and swore I never wanted to be in front of a computer for the rest of my life. When I got to college I took an informatics class on a whim and I was hooked. Tech is way more than just coding, and that's empowering to know.
When did you become interested in fashion?
Makenzie Pletcher: When Sim and I started exploring how tech is being integrated into new fields, we fell in love with the idea of using fashion as a platform for our Launch Event. Techplusplus is about sticking to your passions and doing what you love. Fashion is about expressing who you are. I can't think of a more exciting way to launch Techplusplus.
What do you find to be most notable about tech's impact on fashion?
Makenzie Pletcher: I think algorithms, data and 3D printing will play a large role in the production of clothing and accessories. One of my favorite designers, Francis Bitonti, is already designing for the information age. Francis has donated a 3D printed accessory to Techplusplus. But I'll leave the product he donated a surprise!
Sim Singh: Tech is changing the way we wear our products and integrate it into our daily lives. Twenty years ago using technology and our personal lives were separate. Now everything is intertwined. We use technology in every aspect of our social, personal, and career life. Clothes and accessories need to catch up with that as well.
What do you think the future holds for these two industries in Seattle?
Makenzie Pletcher: Seattle is missing the high fashion element other large cities like New York and Los Angeles possess. We hope Seattle will find its niche in the fashion industry by utilizing technology.