Valentine’s Day has now come and gone and we’re still picking at that proverbial box of chocolate. Another thing we’re still chewing over was the finale of the Decoded Fashion Hackathon. Throughout the day a number of startups and the finalists of the Hackathon would take minutes to tell the fashion tech world exactly what they were doing, their plans for the future, and their outlook on the industry in general. What’s better is that in true Valentine’s Day form, a stronger relationship emerged, the best kind of relationship, a relationship of fashion and tech.
Held in the Mercedes Benz tents at Lincoln Center, The Decoded Fashion Hackathon finale was a mixture of fur, metallics, arm parties, coding and iPad minis. It was glorious! Here are some of the highlights:
The New Definition of Commerce: E-Commerce & M-Commerce
The morning kicked off with the time-honored discussion of how commerce has moved from being a predominant part of our physical lives to being ever present in our digital lives as well. The panel was moderated by Lisa Green, Head of Industry Luxury & Retail at Google, and consisted of Shauna Mei, Founder of AHAlife, Bryan Wolff, CFO of Bonobos, and Farryn Weiner, Global Director of Social Media at Michael Kors. (Farryn is also one of our panelists at the Social Media Meetup this Thursday!)
We all know by now that we have the ability to browse and shop the hottest trends and styles online and on our phones but it was interesting to hear AHAlife take it a step further by creating the imagery that their goal is to create the virtual Madison Avenue. Now, take a moment and consider what that means. To us, that means that it’s more than just putting products online and having people shop them. It means that they are making a conscious effort to find the finest lifestyle pieces for the AHAlife consumer and formulate a virtual experience that brings it all in one place. The visual of an online Madison Avenue is one that stuck with the crowd, and solidified exactly what AHAlife is trying to achieve.
As the conversation moved into digital advertising, Farryn Weiner stepped front and center to discuss the importance of brands knowing what’s important to capitalize on. Meaning, brands should have a clear understanding of what media outlets will benefit their ventures and let go of the ones that are just wasting time. This means understanding your consumer, knowing where they “hang out” online, when they’re there, and what other news/current events their checking out. With that, analytics play a huge part but it’s essential to understand that with analytics, brands need to put a little faith in their advertising/social media strategies. Maybe it’s the faith part that makes things go viral.
Top Influencer Chat
This discussion was an evaluation of the challenges, returns, and future developments of the future of fashion tech. Another thing that was touched on was discussing the ways in which each industry (together as well as separately) could make strides in the future in order to create greater efficiency and a more sound business ecosystem. The panel was moderated by Liz Baclear and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff of Decoded Fashion, and consisted of Uri Minkoff, Founder & CEO of Rebecca Minkoff and Philippe von Borries, Co-Founder of Refinery29.
For Refinery, it was important to discuss their tone and deep understanding of the symbiotic relationship between them and their reader. Philippe talked about keeping their approach light, yet personal through beautiful curated visual, audio/visual, and verbal content. It’s not enough to produce content, the content that’s produced needs to be seamless, thoughtful and consistent with the Refinery29 brand that’s been built over an 8-year period. “We are an overnight success that happened over 8 years,” Borries joked, but it made the point that nothing Refinery produces is accidental and it’s taken 8 years to develop the success that comes with content intentionality.
Fashion Keynote Address With Zac Posen
This part of the event (other than the announcement of the winner) was probably one of the most resounding. Not only did this discussion have fashion design superstar Zac Posen front and center, it was a personal account of how one very busy and successful brand is able to have such a strong presence online. There are many fashion giants that opt out of having a strong social media extension but Zac Posen is not one of them. He said “communication is king” and keeping in touch with his fan and consumer base is part of a complete branding. By being so alive in social media/online, “I [am able to] control” what’s put out there because I can gauge and command the demand of interest. (Well said!) He went on to say that Instagram has become of the greatest tools in his social media strategy because it allows him to communicate one of the most romantic aspects of what he does — tactile craft. It is the best way for him to translate the beauty, delicateness, and emotionality of his work and that’s something that’s indispensable. Posen even took a moment to talk to aspiring brands and told them to keep things small because if they’re small, they’re manageable. “There is nothing,” he said, “that goes through my showroom [that I don’t touch myself].” We love that.
Fashion & Tech Discuss The Future
With romanticism and excitement about social media now at the forefront of the event, it was only natural to look toward the future, and in order to do that, we took a step back. This panel led the discussion of blogging platforms and tablets and how budding fashion designers must use already existing tech in news ways to encourage customer engagement and growth. Moderated by Cindi Leive, Editor-in-Chief at Glamour, and consisted of Kevin Kollenda, Founder of Two Hustlers, Coco Rocha, Super Model, and Valentine Uhovski, Fashion Evangelist at Tumblr.
Initially, one has to wonder why Decoded would include a Supermodel in this panel but here’s a little background on Coco: she has accumulated millions of followers on over 10 different social media platforms and was the first model to surpass 1 million followers on Google+. To boot, she was just about 4 million followers in Chinese social networks, like Sino Weibo and Tencent Weibo, where Coco says, “models are bigger than celebrities.” She’s very active on Twitter, priding in the fact that she generates her own content, and is now becoming very involved in the Twitter-owned video sharing app that launched last month, Vine. You go, Coco! She claims that her secret sauce was being the first of her kind on each one of these platforms and when she wasn’t the first, she put a unique twist on her content.
Expanding on Coco’s points, Kevin Kollenda, says that the digital world is no difference than the real world and in the same way we manage things in that respect, we must manage ourselves online. This ties into curation. Kollenda says that producing thoughtfully curated content while communicating an organic message is essential. He discussed the Gaga Constellation installation which recently called Barney’s New York home. In this installation, a live Twitter feed would show the messages of people from around the world that were tweeted to #gagastars. Kevin shared that many young people chose to share personal experiences in these messages thereby enhancing the overall effect of the feature. Like a modern day message in bottle, social media, technology, fashion, and celebrity came together to form the ultimate real world experience.
Tech Keynote Address
As the day winded down, we knew it couldn’t end without a talk from someone über tech-y. Cue Dennis Crowley, Founder of Foursquare. Interviewed by Meredith Melling Burke, Senior Market Editor at Vogue, Crowley was able to talk about how Foursquare partnered with Lucky Magazine to enhance readers’ experiences by taking information they read in the magazine and bringing them to life. As Foursquare users would check-in to various locations throughout their city, Lucky Magazine would send notifications of opportunities to add-on to whatever shopping they were already doing. This allowed readers to learn more about the cities they were in, explore new things and gain access to a number of VIP experiences in-store.
Another brand that’s partnered with Foursquare is Louis Vuitton and while the details of the enhanced experience weren’t divulged in too much detail, we know it must’ve been good — something along the lines of champagne and celebrity treatment. //
Once the discussions were over and the winners of the hackathon were announced — in which we must take a moment to congratulate SWATCHit — we realized that something really special had happened at over the course of this Fashion Week. The terms in which we define and enjoy fashion had changed. With advancements of technology and social media, fashion is now something that everyone can participate in and has reemerged as one of the greatest phenomenon of our time. This business is now being enjoyed in newer, broader, and more elevated ways. And with that we must thank all the participants, the hackers, Decoded Fashion, and fashion itself because without all those components we wouldn’t be experiencing such a profound, altering moment in fashion tech history!
Leticia Domenech is a Writing and Copy Editing Intern at TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
Featured image by us, middle image via Zimbio.