Silicon Valley

ICYMI, Silicon Valley has its own fashion week now. Hosted by Betabrand, the ‘week’ took place over three consecutive nights earlier this month, calling itself the ‘Wackiest Show in Town’ and promising drones, robots and ‘mad inventions.’ And maybe some clothes, too. Confused? Here’s our lowdown on the event that brought some of fashion tech’s brightest thinkers out of the conference hall and onto the catwalk.

The facts:
Taking place from 12-14 May, the event covered ‘Electric Motion’, ‘Wearable Tech’ and ‘Crowdfunded Fashion’. It was set up by Betabrand, the clothing company known for its functional apparel, like the Suitsy (a business suit onesie) and its poop emoji shirts (self-explanatory). According to CEO Chris Lindland, the concept wasn’t so much inspired by the new technology focus that has emerged at recent fashion weeks, but rather the crazy outfits his employees created for Burning Man festival. Other notable participants included Pebble, Misfit Wearables and fibre optics fashion creative Natalie Walsh. On stage, models were joined by drones carrying items on hangers.

The reaction:
Anticipating the snark, Lindland put a deliberate question mark at the end of the event’s name. That didn’t stop certain members of the fashion press from expressing their disbelief. Most memorable was GQ’s John Jannuzzi, writing: “Seriously, tech bros. Stay in your lane, we’ll stay in ours.” Allison P. Davis at the Cut was a little more circumspect, reflecting that the close relationship between fashion and technology demonstrated by brands like Hood by Air and Iris Van Herpen renders this kind of satire a little old. But none of this deterred attendees – the show sold out in two days for all three nights, and there’s no denying that it showed off talent in the Bay Area in a new and interesting way. As Christina Bonnington showed at Refinery 29, a closer looked revealed some pretty desirable and practical items: such as Elektronista’s smart leather clutch, concealing numerous chargers within.

The future:
While he’s unsure if Silicon Valley Fashion Week? will become an annual event, Lindland is certainly preparing for it, revealing that he’s already trademarked the name. Although the fashion press is unlikely to ever be as turned on by the concept, the sheer amount of coverage gave fashion-tech start-ups a new global stage outside the Bay Area – which can only be a good thing.

Reported by Claire Healy

The broadcast tower at Alexanderplatz, Berlin

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