Text & Interview: Alec Coiro
Photo: Olimpia Dior
Models: Nikolas Bentel, Lukas Bentel, Brian Hicks and Jenna Guarascio
I met Sabine Seymour in Greenpoint where she and Olimpia were shooting the very images of her Supa clothing that you see before you. Seymour has an enthusiasm and kinetic energy intense enough to shortcircuit the biometric sensors in her clothing. Although being on the cutting edge of wearable technology, your Fitbit probably has more of a chance of catching on fire than the Supa clothes do of short circuiting.
But what exactly is it that has her so excited? What is Supa? ““[It’s] very cool, lifestyle branded clothing that has integrated sensors, but you don’t see them, you don’t know that they’re there. The artificial intelligence reads all the biometrics in the background and is completely personalized to your life.” So it’s a completely non-intrusive way to analyze your biometrics that you can wear and forget. Although, given the boldness of the designs, you might forget that it’s working, you yourself certainly will not be forgotten.
Obviously my framework (and probably yours) for understanding this sort of product is the Fitbit, the Apple Watch, and that app on the iPhone with that little heart. For Seymour, the relationship to wearable tech goes all the way back to the ‘90s when she created a video gaming helmet. In terms fitbits and watches, the advantage of Supa is the precision and totality of the data. Seymour explains, “A Fitbit is a motion sensor that is on your arm and the Apple watch has an optical heart rate sensor, but with that we cannot do heart rate variability because it’s not accurate as an ecg. We can also correlate it and create hydration and temperature settings that are more accurate. We have an API layer that allows you to integrate other devices. We make a much more holistic device that is simpler for you.”
Obviously being next to your skin and covering more of your body’s real estate than just the wrist, the clothing gets better and more thorough data. And you’re able to get a holistic picture of your full biometrics by way of the Supa Reactor, which allows you to change clothes but keep the data coherent. Seymour explains, “You attach [the Supa Reactor] ]from one garment to the other and it shoots the information from the garment to your phone. They are automatically activated as soon the reactor gets a signal.”
This level of data in conjunction with the app that Seymour’s team has developed allow for significant health benefits. “We don’t believe in health conditions; we only believe in super powers. A lot of us we have something wrong, asthma, allergy, a chronic condition, a sports injury, whatever it may be. The A.I. is really starting to learn about you — I call mine Jorge — that is a very important aspect.” But Supa is not satisfied with simply providing individual health benefits, they also plan to collect the data and learn about health trends and the causes of diseases on a more macro, humanity-wide level. “Your biometrics can tell you about your body. Data is stored for 10, 20 30 years. That’s why Gen C is so interesting for us because in 20 or 30 years, I can tell you why you got cancer. Is it genetic predisposition, is it environmental, is it what you put in your body?”
We make a much more holistic device that is simpler for you.
However, as Seymour points out, the Gen C audience that she’s targeting, might not care so much the health benefits they’ll accrue when their 50. Fortunately, Supa also offers a slew of really fun applications. Like this fall, there’s going to be a Supa dance party, where guests will control the party through their Supa sensors. “We have a party planned some time in the fall in New York City. We’re working on it right now. We can track every single person and understand who they are if it is in a contained environment. We have the ability to address every single garment.” It definitely sounds like something that will have to be experienced to be fully grasped, but it also sounds pretty amazing. It can also be used for game control and navigating VR. “We’re taking your biometric data and use if for anything that uses an input: music, light, sound, the app.” Supa, essentially allows the world a way of reacting to your body in thoroughly 21st way.
Supa clothing itself is branded with Seymour’s favorite catchphrase from her native Austria.
“I say ‘supa’ all the time. I’m Austrian and when we say something is cool or amazing, you just say it’s ‘supa.’ From a branding perspective, it works in pretty much any language and you already know what it means.” The clothing is as bright and alive as Seymour herself. “From a design perspective, I said it’s the ‘80s and now. I also didn’t want the design team to have lived in the ‘80s, so it’s a total interpretation of it.” She also lists the three key songs that represent the brand: “‘Walk This Way’ by Run D.M.C., hip hop meets rock. You’ve got Missy Elliot, of course, “Supa Dupa Fly.” And then you’ve got “Happy” by Pharrell, and that’s the brand.”
But in a way the brand is only the beginning. “You can think about us creating the brand so that the consumers and the brand understand what we stand for and what the applications are. It’s also up to the brands to actually build out with us different interfaces for the app.” What seems likely is that Supa Reactor will be coming to your closet whether you buy Supa clothing or not. So you why not get in on the ground floor.