Zoe Romano is a digital strategist, artist and the cofounder of a collaborative lab in Milan called WeMake Makerspace and Fablack that focuses on digital fabrication and digital social innovation. With a background in media science and technology, she was motivated to explore opportunities in fashion by discovering projects that utilised smart materials. By meeting the people working on these projects, her interest was sparked to use textiles for interactive projects.
With a focal interest in e-textiles, Zoe explains that compared to fashion-tech, the use of plastic and metal can be limited to create soft interactions in several fields, including fashion, interior design, and health care among many others. By reaching out and taking part of events around e-textiles,
she could mix it with basic knowledge of Arduino, she started experimenting on her own. Her first experiments with e-textiles resulted in a collection of laser-cut open design accessories to prototype electronics. Additionally, Zoe organised a workshop around soft sensors to involve more local people on the topic.
Her experience from training and R&D has mainly come through EU-funded projects, which further emphasises the importance of reaching out. While Zoe is continuing work on R&D and and developing prototypes, main difficulties come from the industry not being ready to move to a different production model. As her focus is on local on-demand production based on digital fabrication and is customised by the end-user, the approach does not fit with the mass production of fashion and design. Additionally, she explains that accessing materials was more difficult than expected, as not many people are interested in such resources. That meant participating in collective purchasing directly from producers.
Named as one of the 23 women leading the world of fashion technology, Zoe explores digital manufacturing and how to accelerate the process of spreading open-fashion, micro-social enterprise and P2P economies. By connecting the work of Wemake also to wearable technology and the development of local fashion communities by using open-source technology, her goal is to understand if innovation and an alternative production model can be sustainable independently from corporations.