Whoever thought the fashionistas of AMS are to be found among the 22 professional women of the HR-class is proven wrong. Already in November, Spencer and Gilles won the design-innovation award at the FashTech event – a fashion weekend for young entrepreneurs. Today, their success is still noised abroad by attention from coaches and companies from around the world. But can they go from start-up to scale-up? A conversation with two of AMS’ finest.
“Our world goes from crisis to crisis”, Gilles immediately kicks off. This young Belgian innovator doesn’t lack any ambition. “I like the feeling to be in the vanguard of this generation. For me, it’s meaningful to try to procure the change this world needs by developing concrete ideas into projects like we did in the FashTech weekend.” Spencer, American and feeling at home at AMS concurs: “a friend of ours got involved in a car accident quite recently, so that was an immediate incentive for us to work on something that could improve safety and at the same time address some fundamental consumer pains.”
And what did they actually develop – I can hear you ask? Well, it’s very simple. Clothing.
Clothing – I can hear you ask again?
Yes, clothing with designed-in reflecting material.
And why do we need clothing with designed-in reflecting material? As you, as a reader, have a basic right to three questions, this better ought to be your last.
Well, I’ll let the guys answer for themselves: “we want to address both environmental change and consumer need to look good in every situation, also in traffic. When we design suits, school outfits or working costumes with reflecting materials, there no longer will be any need to use the fluo jackets who, admittedly, nobody really likes to wear.”, Gilles and Spencer combinedly elaborate. “And once we make bicycling more attractive, by adapting the outfits, maybe we can make a small contribution to making people shift from car to bike for movements in the city. In the end, you can look good, be sportive, be safe and contribute to a clean environment.”
The pitch they give me during our conversation makes me warm up to the idea. Especially because they not only combine consumer and societal pains, but they also seem to manage to combine their efforts and strengths to forge a one-of-a-kind-team. “You could say that Spencer is more creative and I more able to keep a good eye on the process we go through”, yet while saying these words, Spencer corrects Gilles by complementing: “he doesn’t give himself enough credit on the creative side. Our interest in the creative side of things reaches far for the both of us”.
And do they see any opportunity to really bring this to the market? Spencer does believe in its feasibility. “We could start off with small product batches. We have to stop overthinking some of the details and then we could start working on a prototype rather fast. It’s not a complex product, which is an advantage when you compare to other start-ups that for example operate in more technological sectors.” Gilles thinks the FashTech award itself was a good sign that it might work. “And besides the award, we also received a 2000 euro transport credit from UPS. So once we really start of, this is a good push in our back to finance shipments.”
“And in what part of the story AMS comes in?”, I ask the guys at the end of our conversation. “Well, actually we spent quite some time in class and the foyer”, both enthusiasts proclaim. “The FashTech event was a good eye-opener that we can really put the things we learn in class to concrete use. On the event, we went from a pitch to a concrete start-up project.” Gilles summarizes by saying both him and Spencer really had to laugh a lot once they realized – during the weekend itself – how much they actually learned in class.