The 21st Century Youth Project launches Haute & Smart: Girls in Fashion Tech Series

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I’ll be honest, I’m far from being recognized as a fashion maven. Give me a pair of gym shoes, a polo/t-shirt, and some jeans, and I feel well-dressed. But, no one can deny that technology is reaching into new and exciting areas. You can’t be in tech and not notice the number of “smart clothes” that are entering the market, blurring the line between what is considered purely fashion, or just tech. In fact, event at Fashion Week, tech stole the show.There are smart shoes, which send data to your smartphone, undergarmets which can measure heart rate, and even high-tech jackets that are more like full-functional computers than windbreakers.

In our latest 21st Century Open Hack, our phenomenal instructor, Kris Roberts demoed a hoodie that could be lit and was fully programmable. It received an amazing response from the young girls who participated. That was our aha moment! As with many organizations and programs, we’d love to have more girls participate and reap the benefits of our program. We’re not saying that every girl has to be into fashion OR enter our program only on this track, but the point is, we thought we could enter a completely new avenue of interest (and growth), particularly among young girls, that have a keen interest in fashion as well as technology. Every young woman can still signup for our regular OpenHack at BLUE1647 without having to pursue the fashion track! And if all goes well, and we have interest from young men, we may have a separate track, but for right now, we’re only piloting this with young women.

The challenge of encouraging students to learn something outside of school, is making it unlike traditional school. We must capitalize on the areas that interests the students the most and then use that as an opportunity to provide those transferrable skills. In response to the need of specific education programs designed to teach and train youth what could be called “Fashion Tech”, the 21st Century Youth Project has created a new series of courses. In essence, young girls (who already have an interest in fashion and/or technology) will be instructed in sewing, design, and software programming, culminating with a fashion show displaying the students wear-able designs and lessons learned.

The basic idea is to teach these students how they might be able to create fully-functional and “wear-able” pieces of technology. Not only is this a great opportunity for them to truly open up their imagination to new and exciting possibilities, it’s also a chance to learn real-world skills.

Currently, the program is slated to start on Saturday, April the 6th and will run until May the 4th. Afterwards, there will be a presentation/fashion show on May 9th. To sign up, go here. It costs just $30 total for the five weeks (yes, just $6/week for materials) and we’re limiting the class size to the first twenty that sign up.

Here’s a link to our press release.



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