17 Oct Startup Fashion Week 2016
The future is shaped by the community who foster it, and last week I was proud and honoured to be a part of a community dedicated to shaping the future of fashion. I may not be a designer, a fashion house, a tech startup or a VC, but I am a someone who wants to see emerging designers and fashion-tech startups take on this intense and often challenging industry. Last week Startup Fashion Week (SFW) kicked off for the third time and once again I was thrilled to be there.
The highly successful five-day event provides a platform for emerging designers and fashion-tech startups to increase visibility through networking events, conferences, and a prestigious runway show. For those who felt a sense of loss when Toronto Fashion Week announced it’s downfall, SFW became not just the remedy but a solution for championing the success of the Canadian fashion (and tech) industry.
We kicked off the week with the Media Launch Party at NEST where I was able to sneak in interviews interlaced with a couple of glasses of red wine. There was nothing but excitement in the air and neatly tucked in everyone’s clutch was their ‘A’ game.
Following the party the week was packed with events and opportunities to help designers, entrepreneurs, and startups find their footing in the fashion industry.
Fashion Tech Forum
If you have a passion for fashion tech or you are unsure of how to infuse the future into your brand, SFW Fashion Tech Forum was the event you did not want to miss.The evening brought attention to a variety of different ways technology was invigorating the fashion world (and vice versa). Hosted by one of the most knowledgeable and passionate people in the industry, Electric Runway’s Amanda Costco brought all the right questions to help the audience gain the insights they needed.
If you haven’t checked out the Electric Runway podcast, I strongly suggest you do!
Starting off the night was Renn Scott from Daily Goods Design Labs who discussed the trends in design. She stressed the ‘everyday experience’ which I could not agree with more! Whether you are designing a piece of clothing or a wearable tech device, you must consider the context of who, what, where, and why you are designing it. The materials you use are also an important component of your product, from 3D printing to smart materials, how will you enhance your consumer’s experience?
Next up on the podium was Keith Beckles from Tap2Tag Canada,a wearable tech company founded in the UK and currently making a move across the ocean. Beckles who I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier in the week spoke about how Tap2Tag’s device can help provide wearers with peace of mind.
The wristbands are embedded with technology known as NFC (near – field communication), which is designed to be used with smartphones. In an emergency—after calling 911—any passerby with an NFC-enabled smartphone will be able to tap the device to access the emergency information (allergies, diseases, medications, etc.). The wearer controls what information they would like to share with those who tap.
My concerns with the product reside in the mass adoption of the technology (which has been the downfall for many other devices that have come before it). How will a first responder know that a person is wearing a Tap2Tag device? Will they be trained to check for wearable technology (bracelets, necklaces, key chains, etc.)? Beckles assured me that the team is working with organizations to help bring the technology to our health care system. In fact, the UK’s National Health Service have already adopted NFC for a variety of programs, and this is what Tap2Tag hopes will become the future of our system.
The final presentation of the night was Leesa Butler who chatted about the launch of Klothed, an app designed to change the way men think about and shop for clothes. With the help from an avatar, the user can try on clothes, save and send outfits to their friends and family. For those men who have better luck getting dressed in the dark, this app could very well be a godsend.
The user has the choice of two body types; a department-store style catalogue model or a sturdier model based on the body of the typical North American male. Once you have chosen your digital figure, you can shop with the retailers that have signed up with the app, which include GotStyle, 18Waits, and Joe Fresh—with more stores to be added in the coming future.
What I would love to see from the app would be the ability to upload items from a user’s closet and include them in the outfit building process. This would be a great way for men to build on investment pieces (ex. suits) that are in need of a refresh.
The evening closed off with a fashion tech panel (and the live recording of the Electric Runway podcast). Once again, there were some great insights into how a variety of Canadian companies are integrating technology into their business.
Check out the recording from the event’s panel here.
Future of Fashion Runway Show
After a long—but exciting—week it was time to celebrate the designers and startups that had come to Toronto to showcase their collections. With cocktails in hand, we took our seats and had our iPhones ready!
For an SFW first, the runway show was recorded and live streamed in 360. Using an ALLie Camera, photographer/videographer Shayne Gray was able to provide viewers an immersive experience that could be shared with anyone across the globe.
Wearable Tech Takes to the Runway
The fashion forward event would not have been complete without models clad in wearable tech! For a brief period, the runway was home to three wearable devices that had fused tech with fashion. Proving yet again that technology doesn’t have to be awkward and unflattering.
Perfectly timed with the launch of the iPhone 7 and it’s lack of an earphone jack, Ashley Chloe showcased their Bluetooth earbuds. Concealed in a stylish, convenient Helix Cuff the earbuds are equipped with the most advanced sound technology.
With a mission to revolutionize our health care system and provide users with peace of mind, Tap2Tag took to the runway with a variety of different device styles.
This is my third encounter with WiseWear, and I can’t say enough about the device. From security to step counter, the WiseWear bracelet has a number of different functionalities. Even if this thing didn’t work, I’d still rock this golden cuff! For more details on their device check out my profile on the company.
A big thank you to Jodi Goodfellow and the #StartupFW team for inviting me to participate in the event. Can’t wait for next year!
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