Decoded Fashion, appropriately held at Lincoln Center last week, was the 2.0 version of Fashion Week, bringing together some of the top designers and the top technology platforms that fashion utilizes to get out their message. There were a bevy of different panels addressing the increasing intersection between fashion and technology. Discussions swirled around social curation, social media tactics, investor interest in fashion tech, finding perfect fit, and many other topics.
The most interesting conversation to me, besides the one in regards to fit, was around real time fashion analysis of consumer behavior and how that drives trends and also influences designer behavior. I was particularly impressed by EDITD which compiles consumer data across social and search platforms and provides trending conversations to brands. The reason this topic was so interesting to me was that with the Internet it seems that the democratization of fashion is becoming more of a reality. In the traditional model of fashion designs and trends were handed down from large fashion houses with little or no real time feedback in order to inform the designs in the next collection. I was so interested to hear how some of the top companies use social media to inform their buying or designing decisions. Stacey Bendet, designer for whimsical brand Alice + Olivia, stated that when the sales team and the design team disagree on a certain piece they will Instagram it to gauge the reaction. Bendet said that often the designers gut instinct is right and the photo will garner a frenzy of comments and likes proving to the sales team the demand for the item. Deborah Lloyd, the president and Creative Director for Kate Spade, said they took a similar approach in posting items to their Facebook wall to gauge reaction. She said that the Kate Spade fans are very vocal: "When they love something they say so, and when they hate something they say so!" This kind of information is helpful to Kate Spade in their purchasing decisions and future design decisions.
It was fantastic to hear the designers speak about their use of technology to propel their business. Technology is inextricably linked with fashion and fashion's audience. Nicole Miller frames it well when she states that it's not about hiring assistant designers anymore, it's about hiring for new social media positions.