Fashion Tech Talk

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Rachel Tipograph is “making Gap cool again for the first time since Bill Clinton was President,” according to Business Insider. As Gap’s Global Director of Digital & Social Media, Rachel oversees strategy, implementation and measurement. She judged the pitches at the world’s first Fashion Hackathon, and we chatted with her on what tech she can’t live without.

Decoded Fashion: What is the most useful technology to you in your job as Global Director of Digital & Social Media at Gap?
Rachel Tipograph: My iPhone. The social web doesn’t care about time nor space and having a computer in my pocket always allows me to do my job from anywhere and anytime. And Radian6. Social media stretches across every discipline of the business, and Radian6 allows anyone from the C-suite to community managers listen to conversations about Gap worldwide.

DF: What areas of fashion-tech are extremely crowded?
RT: Affiliate programs, ad tech, and SaS for social media. With the explosion of content, conversation and data happening across the web, one of the first opportunities entrepreneurs addressed was 1) how to turn massive amounts of data into meaningful interactions, and 2) turn those interactions into something that’s actionable in the sales funnel. As a result, there are an abundance of companies that have come to be in the affiliate space, ad tech and SaS for social.

DF: What areas of fashion-tech are relatively unexplored?
RT: In-store technologies and enterprise SaS. 2013 will be the year the B-to-B space explodes with innovation. Many entrepreneurs are taking learning from the B-to-C space and applying it to B-to-B. In addition, IT technology is improving at rapid speed, the cost of technology is becoming more affordable, all of these variables will influence innovation within organizations.

mager spotify

We may be the first Fashion Hackathon, but we’re also the first Hackathon for plenty of developers, designers and business and marketing professionals. What? how? why? do you do what? when? To answer some of the top questions, we talked to Spotify’s Hacker Advocate Andrew Mager, who’s been to more than 50 hackathons around the world.

What is the most challenging aspect of the Fashion Hackathon?
Getting people to understand that it’s more than fashion. It’s art, it’s e-commerce, it’s music, it’s retail.

What are your top 3 tips to first-time hackers?
Make friends early, network your ass off. Listen carefully to the API pitches to see what’s possible. And have fun; you’re building something in a short time that you aren’t getting paid for. You could be building the next big thing though, so don’t have too much fun!

What is the best way to form a team?
Network as soon as you walk in the door. Watch people as they watch the API demos to see which talks to interesting people. At the end of the API demos, stand up on the mic and say your skills and say what your idea is. Ask for help if you need it.

What are your top tips to experienced hackers who have never worked with fashion or retail tech?
Expand your horizons. A fashion hack is more than just nice clothes and runways. Even if you wear a nerdy black t-shirt everyday, there is a place for you at a fashion hackathon.

Andrew will meet with the Hackathon finalists for a mentorship session before they pitch at the Decoded Fashion Forum at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. @mager