This month we shine the light, literally, on the Bahrain-based founder of Lichtspiel Fashion. Not heard of it? That’s no surprise – the company has only just started and is bringing something pretty innovative to our shores.
What does the future hold?
“First, I want to establish my brand in the market. I think this is a first of its kind for Bahrain. Later on, I would like to experiment with interactive clothing. European scientists have developed a new technology that allows a wearer’s clothes to adjust to their needs automatically by adjusting the temperature. The smart clothing takes care of the body’s thermal flow. I would love to design clothing that meets the needs of people who cannot escape the hot and humid summers here in the Middle East.”
German Sabine has been in Bahrain nine years, having come here to join her husband, who works in Saudi Arabia. The couple met in 2007 at a karate workshop in Japan and it was, pretty much, love at first sight. Sabine finished her studies in business administration and headed east.
Two children quickly followed and both karate and business administration fell by the wayside as the 38-year-old concentrated on being a mum until one day she was surfing the web and had a ‘lightbulb moment’. She explains: “I came across a picture of a wedding dress with LEDs [light emitting diodes] embroidered into it. It was like a piece of art! Fashion represents a very emotional, luxury event in your life, it doesn’t just fill a basic need. Integrating light elements into clothing never fails to attract astonishment and guarantees a ‘wow’ effect when people see it for the first time.”
Further research revealed that other designers such as Chanel and Dolce&Gabbana were also lighting up their collections, but only in the area of accessories. So, Sabine decided to try her hand in the fashion industry, designing and making her own LED pieces.
After several months spent speaking with suppliers, she was able to source light, flexible and washable lighting chains, which she stitches into her own designs of clothing and household pieces, from abayas to table runners.
Her first, and still favourite, production, was an evening dress – similar to a low-key bridal gown – which she both designed and then illuminated.
She adds: “The possibilities to integrate this technology into clothing are limitless.”
The lights are operated with a battery pack and can last for several hours, depending on how many bulbs are used. Good as it seems, this raises a question of energy sustainability, which greatly concerned Sabine.
She says: “I learned that the fashion industry is the world’s second-most-polluting industry! That really shocked me. And illuminated fashion is adding to it. In order to power your clothing, you need a source that provides the energy. I am using rechargeable batteries which can be charged easily at a USB port, like your cell phone charger.
“A possibility for the future to make illuminated fashion more sustainable is the utilisation of renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. There are projects to integrate solar cells into, let’s say, a jacket. You wear it for two hours in the sun and your battery will be charged. However, this technology is still in its infancy, and textile has a lot of properties not found in other materials, such as its flexibility – solar cells will need to adapt to those properties.”
For now, Sabine is simply concentrating on establishing her brand in the market and she will be at seasonal fairs across the island this month.
To see more of what’s available, visit lichtspiel-fashion.com