Freestyle Fashion Conference Offers Insights into How Fashion Tech is Shaping Up



What the industry needs is more collaboration, exposure to information, and keeping things honest, or ‘real,’ as Liza Kindred of Third Wave Fashion put it at the recent Fashion Freestyle Conference at Lim College. The conference, which included 16 panel discussions for attendees to choose from and offered a full day of networking, too, is just one of the many tools that those in the fashion industry should make more use of, said Kindred. While she spoke about the state of fashion tech, other panels focused on key trends shaping the industry’s future.

For most who are involved in fashion tech, chances are that means having a web site and strong social media presence. At the Data Driven Marketing panel, speakers addressed the methods they use when analyzing their data.

First, Kwasi Gyasi of MyUberLife suggested setting defined objectives. “Figure out ‘what are my constraints’ so you’ll be more realistic about what you can achieve.” For Patrick Kritchever of HeyHeyGorgeous, that goal was to help women discover top boutiques across the country. Once he discovered that 25% of users were males, however, he changed email strategies to customize the content according to his user base.

“Use content to romance the person,” said Kritchever. He said he has about 15 writers working in-house and around the clock to deliver timely content via email and applications such as TweetDeck, to space out messages and include links that will increase click-throughs.

Another vital tool: Know your industry. Suggestions for keeping knowledgeable on industry info and digital marketing include keeping up with the following sites: Business of Fashion, L2 ThinkThank, Trend Hunter, Fashion GPS, and IBIS industry reports.

At the Wearable Technology panel, speaker Amanda Parkes, founder of Skinteractive Studio, summed up wearable tech’s current dilemma by mentioning of the much-hyped, fashion-critiqued Google Glasses: “The minute you attach it to your body, it becomes an object of self expression.”

Parkes and speaker Chris Walker of Secret Labs, who are heavily involved in developing and promoting wearable tech, noted that the main issues with wearable tech today are with creating items that will be both useful and fashionable, while being profitable as well. Should a customer buy something that will last a long time, or just for the season, and what will that do to the environment? Do we expect a product such as Google Glass to offer diverse style choices, or would we be satisfied wearing the same style for many years to come?

This being an age where we have much more mobile lifestyles,, Parkes and Walker both mentioned that items that seek to make the tech side of the product invisible and are more energy-efficient are the most promising. Currently, Walker is focused on energy-harvesting technology that will prolong the battery life for phones or smart watches, while Parkes mentioned a friend who was growing heart tissue to potentially use as energy.

Despite today’s current energy and market challenges, who’s doing wearable tech well? Parkes noted designer Iris Von Herpen, who was able to make 3D garments while effectively collaborating with architect Neri Oxman.  Walker said companies using trackers in clothing were creating a smart marketing ploy.

Although mention of emerging technologies made for a captivated audience, ultimately many, including the speakers, were concerned with privacy issues, which lead us back to Google.

Sure, it might have been fun to run around at Fashion Week snapping photos via your @GoogleGlass, but as Parkes said, “You cannot have an intimate conversation with someone wearing Google Glass.” Until that’s sorted, pick up that stack of business cards, get to more fashion conferences for some intimate networking – and leave the glasses at home.

For full coverage of tech events in New York, visit The Watch.

About the author: Stephanie Santana

After receiving a dual degree in magazine journalism and anthropology, Stephanie moved to Korea to teach English to elementary students for two years. During her time there, she started a website for salsa dancing in Korea, BusanSalsafied.com. She is currently an editorial assistant at AlleyWatch and is happy to back in New York at an exciting time for startups.  She likes to document her experiences here: stephaniesantana.tumblr.com.

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