Tech paves the way for leading fashion institutions

April 12, 2013

Earlier this season, the New York runway, where some of the world’s top designers showcased their fall 2013 collections, was taken over by Condé Nast’s Decoded Fashion Forum.

Some 500 attendees crowded the rows to hear the biggest names in tech and fashion speak about the industry: Zac Posen, Dennis Crowley (founder of Foursquare), Coco Rocha and industry executives from Vogue, Michael Kors, Stuart Weitzman, DKNY and Marc Jacobs were all in attendance.

The speakers at Decoded Fashion Forum included Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha (left), renowned designer Zac Posen (centre) and Glamour magazine’s editor-in-chief Cindi Leive.

Topics of discussion spanned many areas of digital and fashion worlds — from what it means for a brand to tell their story, to the challenges of big data. Most of it focused on the fact that fashion is now fully digitized, making it more accessible, sustainable and global.

Farryn Weiner, global director of social and digital media at Michael Kors, warned that brands should not just jump on any new social media platform because it is new, but rather consider the brand’s strategy and then see if the platform fits. Philippe von Borries, co-founder and CEO of Refinery29, said that their key to success is to use a combination of intuition and consumer data, adding that “fashion is a conversation.”

Celebrated designer and fashion keynote speaker Zac Posen talked about industry challenges, noting that “in the same way a screen size is a constraint in tech, fabric is a constraint in fashion. There’s beauty in digital and visual information.”

The discussion panel at Decoded Fashion Forum.

Coco Rocha, the first supermodel to have more than one million followers on Google+, talked about her success in the social space; she attributed it to basically knowing what people wanted. She noted that the fashion world seems out of reach to millions, but that using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, lately, Vine to involve fans allows everyone to be able to “live it, instead of it being a fantasy.” Rocha also said she was an early adopter of the platforms, and talked about the importance of all her communication being in her own voice and exclusively by her; “It’s quality over quantity. It’s all about the content.”

Tech keynote Dennis Crowley kicked off his talk with this fantastic video that shows Foursquare check-ins right before, during and after Hurricane Sandy, demonstrating the sheer number of Foursquare users and how much data the platform collects on a per-minute basis. Crowley is currently looking at ways for big fashion brands to maximize Foursquare, because large companies cannot offer discounts in the same way restaurants, bars and other retailers can. He is working with brands like Louis Vuitton to offer customers and passers-by a VIP experience that only a check-in would offer: free champagne while they browse and an exclusive look at new pieces in a private room are options the social media giant is exploring, partnered with top names.

Another celebrity speaker was Steven Kolb (left), CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

The Decoded Fashion Forum was also the hub of the Fashion Hackathon Finale. The Fashion Hackathon enabled 550 participants in 78 teams to compete and create (in a mere 24 hours) a piece of technology that would meet the fashion industry’s needs. They pitched their ideas to judges Zac Posen, Uri Minkoff (founder and CEO of Rebecca Minkoff), Steven Kolb (CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, CFDA), Dirk Standen (editor-in-chief of Style.com) and Alexis Maybank (founder of Gilt Groupe).

The winners were the creators of SWATCHit, an app that connects designers with artisans in developing countries. They took home $10,000 and the possibility of having their app launched by the prestigious CFDA.

Decoded Fashion Forum highlights


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By Nadia MK
Photography by Margarita Corporan

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