The most exciting week in fashion may have just come to a close, but it’s not over yet. The Freestyle Fashion Conference, a highly anticipated, one-of-a-kind event for fashion tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts, hits New York City on September 28th.
The conference will offer a series of focused sessions relating to the business of Fashion and Retail, all presented ‘freestyle:’ instead of a traditional, assembly-style series of lectures, the Fashion Freestyle Conference will feature a number of concurrent seminars from which attendees can pick or choose, depending on their interests. The seminars will be intimate, consisting of only 30 to 50 people, maximizing the learning experiences, and to give all attendees a chance to interact with the panelists – and network with each other.
All of the speakers have been chosen based on their extensive knowledge in each of their particular areas of expertise, and while they may not necessarily be household names, each brings years of experience and invaluable advice to the table. In particular, Pavan Bahl, the event’s organizer, expressed excitement about attending the seminars led by Erika Miller of Adobe Omniture and ELM Consulting (listen for helpful tips and tricks on how to increase traffic and convert sales), Leland Maschmeyer of Collins (known worldwide for his seminars on collaboration as a business model) and Amanda Parkes of Skinteractive Studio (most recently added to the roster to address wearable technology and innovative fabrics). Bahn also mentioned that Liza Kindred of Third Wave Fashion will be conducting a class called “The State of Fashion Tech,” which will also address wearable technology, 3D printing and many of the other upcoming trends in the fashion tech industry.
Bahl himself is no stranger to the New York fashion tech scene. He’s founder of Open Source Fashion, an online community where fashion tech professionals share knowledge and contacts in a specific location, starting with New York, which is one of the world’s fashion capitals, after all. The company launched in 2011 and has been bringing professionals and entrepreneurs together ever since.
Many of the same principles that went into the creation of Open Source Fashion have also inspired the Freestyle Fashion Conference.
Bahl first took an interest in fashion when he decided he wanted to design his own brand. As his lack of both a formal education in the industry and important business connections began to slow him down, the idea for Open Source Fashion was born.
Those who can, do, and Bahl, a super connector, is the perfect enabler for the fashion community.
Bahl admits that fashion tech entrepreneurs face a lot of obstacles in the startup community, but he feels that companies like his own and the Freestyle Fashion Conference provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to stay competitive, and one of the most important things to consider in any industry is how to keep your business one creative step ahead of the competition. Networking and communicating with other professionals in the field is a great way to stay on top of your game, and Freestyle Fashion plans on providing just that, as well as helping attendees to stay in the loop on upcoming trends and what’s happening in markets all over the world.
Particularly notable will be an appearance by Cultures of Love, a recently launched ecommerce company focused on socially responsible initiatives. Cultures of Love brings together an array of fashion, art and beauty brands that all participate in a social mission. The self-nicknamed “trendsetter with a heart of gold” will be setting up a bazaar, where the conference attendees can discover these socially responsible brands and learn about their missions.
When asked what advice he would give to the conference attendees, Bahl laughed and said, “Have fun!” He encourages all attendees to come in with an open mind and to be prepared to meet a lot of new people. Networking and education are fundamental to creating a successful fashion tech startup, and the Fashion Freestyle Conference offers up an opportunity to improve your exposure to both. (And if all of that doesn’t impress you, the conference will also feature a live DJ, The Electric Gentleman, whose talents include spinning electric music with swing music.)
Once the conference concludes, Bahl will be refocusing his attention on Open Source Fashion. Just this year, OS Fashion has launched in Washington DC (January) and Boston (July). Bahl has set his sights on Atlanta for the next possible launch spot and is encouraging any fashion tech entrepreneurs in the area who might be interested in taking advantage of OS Fashion’s services to reach out and let him know. Bahl hopes to make Freestyle Fashion Conference an annual event, but for the moment, he is concentrating on making the first one an undisputed success.