Silicon Valley Fashion Week kicks off today. As if we needed another one! SVFW runs through May 14, is hosted by online clothier, Betabrand, a San Francisco-based company that crowdsources and crowdfunds new designs on the daily. With this event, it appears the company has its sights set on ushering in a new era of technologically-minded, and engineered, fashion.
SVFW founder Chris Lindland sees the fashion world through the eyes of a tech entrepreneur–that much is clear. His thoughts on the future of fashion:
“With technology in every pocket and soon every wrist, Silicon Valley has an out-sized impact on the way people look and experience the world. The next Valentino is likely staring into a computer, drinking his 4th Red Bull right now!”
The three-day ‘week’ is broken up by theme, rather than designer. Today’s show is titled “Motion and Light: The New Commuter,” while tomorrow’s will focus on wearable tech, and Friday’s on crowdfunded fashion.
In SV, no element of FW as we know it is entirely safe.Drones will replace runway models. And though we don’t necessarily agree with the suggestion posed in the question, “Are runway models headed for extinction?” (We still love you Gigi, Joan…), we can appreciate the eerie, cool effect of clothes flying via drone.
The fashion industry has witnessed a steady stream of celebrity crossovers, with everyone from musicians to reality show stars dabbling in design. But tech entrepreneurs? You heard right: YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley has left his post as CEO of the video sharing site to focus on his fashion label, Hlaska. “It’s a combination of Hawaii and Alaska,” Hurley toldForbes of the line. “Alaska and Hawaii are hot and cold states, small and large, and represent the last of America’s expansion. It’s that tension that we love,” he added. But don’t expect down vests in floral prints or quilted board shorts. Think shits, bags, hoodies, wallets, and accessories that look like the love child of L.L. Bean and Patagonia – there’s a definite outdoors vibe, nothing too fashion forward here. Dare we say rather Silicon Valley?
But what does set the brand apart is its commitment to American production and its understanding that in order for a brand to go viral, it needs an angle, like off-the-charts customer service. Given the fact that Hurley and co. are looking to install stores in every major city over the US in the next two years, they might want to look to another digitally savvy, extremely successful clothing line: Betabrand.
Betabrand was recently profiled in the New York Times thanks to its unique business model: everything is sold solely online and all pieces produced are made in limited quantities. The company has produced such oddball pieces as cordarounds (corduroys where the wale runs horizontal), a black sheep sweater (made from real black sheep’s wool so no dye necessary), and disco pants (a big hit with Burning Man attendees and golfers, apparently). In addition to setting itself apart by selling limited edition clothing online only, where Betabrand really raises the bar is with its “desire to be funny — or at least original.” With newsletters and product descriptions far more colorful and comedic than probably any other branding you’ve ever seen, Betabrand has upped the ante of what a clothing brand can do online. It’s not just Hlaska that should be taking notes.