LED lights, 3D prints, EEG devices: They all made a splash at New York Fashion Week in February 2016. Fashion tech has only just begun its reign on the runway. But it’s a trend that international model and fashion tech entrepreneur Anina Net envisioned long ago. While other fashion visionaries were playing with silhouettes, fabrics, and hues, Anina was building a network of fashion and tech professionals to revolutionize the space as we know it. As Queen of Raw prepares for the release of the 360Fash Tech Kit and LED Ribbons with Anina and a slew of other experts, we figured you should know know a bit more about one of the first fashion tech-preneurs. Here are five things that make Anina Net someone you NEED to know before New York Fashion Week kicks off.


1. Her family’s tech heritage almost took her down a different career path.

“My family [is made up of] all computer engineers, and so I was expected to follow in their footsteps. But then I took a left at the Paris catwalks and began a career in modeling. I used technology to help me network faster, communicate better, and promote myself across social media. I am the original “Model Blogger” and one of the first to ever share the backstage of modeling on a public platform.”

2. She’s the CEO and founder of 360Fashion Network.

“I started 360Fashion Network actually as a mobile blogging, 360 degree overview on fashion, and empowered people like Imran Ahmed from Business of Fashion and Diane Pernet from A Shaded View on Fashion with the latest technology. I knew their sites would grow into the new kind of news platforms. I moved to mobile apps and geo-location, and if I had to hear one more time in 2005 ‘who would ever make a mobile app’ from a fashion designer, I was going to scream. I was simply too early.”

3. She’s a big deal in the Chinese fashion world and the go-to expert on entering the market.

“I kept my passion [alive] for applying new technologies to fashion and in 2007 decided to go where there were 1.3 billion people with mobile phones, blogs, and an emerging market: China. I decided I would become China's number one foreign fashion model, and in two years I achieved that as [CCTV’s “China’s Top Foreign Model” in 2009]. My face everywhere, I decided it was the right time to launch my company in China and work from the top down.”

“[Today], the innovation coming out of China is phenomenal. Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, all are producing great apps, wearables, IOT—it's simply behind a firewall, and Chinese are not notorious for investing in marketing and brand communication. They are still on a practical sales level, so that is a great opportunity for brands to partner on design, ideas, and sales channels. Without Asia, fashion doesn’t work. And the China market is ripe for foreign technologies--they are starting to understand the value of high quality. There's a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their business. We are creating that bridge between east and west, fashion and technology.”

4. She attributes modeling for giving her an inside look into how fashion meets tech.

“Models are mobile, so I used my phone for EVERYTHING. Due to my tech background, I could do things with my phones that others could not do—configure it, hack it, and make it work for me in ways that are very common place today, but at that time it was near impossible unless you were the god of Nokia. In fact, it was thanks to Nokia that I was given technical support, training, and education on the latest tech. I knew about technologies that shape our world today before they even entered the marketplace so I could envision how they would be applied or could be used in the fashion industry.”

5. She launched the yearly 360Fashion & Tech Expo and “Startup Runway & Innovation Awards” to unite and celebrate movers-and-shakers in the field.

“The fashion industry is a tactile industry. We need to see it, touch it, feel it to then imagine how it can be and how it can be better...By bringing together the latest technology entrepreneurs with leading fashion brands in an interactive VISIONARY environment, it is an experience that lets everyone imagine how the future could look. It sparks new and better ideas. It allows them to play and try the new technologies, gather more information, learn, and for the entrepreneurs, they can create new partnerships, gain clients, and get valuable feedback.

“The events also create an atmosphere that is attractive to women. We really want to attract more women to the technology industry, and fashion tech seems to be a place where women feel powerful and non-competitive. Lastly, how do you get the whole eco-system in the room to talk about innovation? Most events are segmented: only engineers, only fashion, only IOT...to create the new digital lifestyle, all aspects need to work and think together to create our world...It's not a one-sided decision, we need to think together, the whole ecosystem, to find our way.”

For both aspiring and established designers, Anina is the reason why fashion tech is not only a reality on the runway but also accessible for your future creations. So all you have to do is focus on the art.