Has New York Fashion Week Been Hacked?

By John Ashmore

January 20, 2013 Designer News 2 Comments

In today’s technology-driven world, hacking typically has a negative connotation. Everything from Twitter accounts to cell phones to bank accounts can be hacked, often with terrible consequences. So, when you first hear the term “hackathon,” you’re likely to assume the worst. However, these events are meant to be productive rather than destructive. They bring together computer programmers and others in the software development field to work on software projects, including apps. For instance, top app Foursquare resulted from a hackathon. Even the fashion industry is now taking advantage of hackathons.

Two separate hackathons will take place during next month’s New York Fashion Week – one held by Hearst and the other by IMG and the CFDA. The CFDA-sponsored event will begin on February 2 and will give over 400 app developers 24 hours to create a fashion-focused app that supports “the overall growth of American Fashion as a global industry.” Three finalists will be chosen to present their apps to a judging panel comprised of industry insiders at the Decoded Fashion forum later in the month. The CFDA will then launch the winner’s app. Hearst’s hackathon is set up similarly but will take place on February 9 and encourages the creation of apps that “inventively connect readers and editors in real-time.”

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While these major players in the fashion industry will soon be holding these hackathons, they haven’t always been on board with the idea. Those in fashion aren’t typically the first to embrace the newest technologies. As for tech people, they don’t always take the fashion industry seriously and haven’t seen it as a market that needed to be entered. Those who had been creating apps for the industry are just now catching on to what is really wanted and needed. It took some convincing on both sides, but fashion and technology are now coming together on plenty of projects.

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Hearst says their main reason for holding a hackathon is “to open dialog with the technology community and open up what we have going on here and maybe get some ideas we can build on.” Magazines in particular, including Hearst’s, are feeling the pressure to embrace technology in order to deliver content to readers who are no longer interested in picking up paper copies of anything.

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Both hackathons have an impressive lineup of judges, mentors, and speakers, including president of Heart Magazines David Carey, site director for Harper’s Bazaar Joyann King, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, Vogue fashion editor Candy Pratts Price, designers Rachel Roy and Zac Posen, and model Coco Rocha. An event similar to the upcoming NYFW hackathons is in the works for the British Fashion Council and is expected to take place later this year. Another major fashion week in Europe is said to be looking into holding a hackathon as well, but few details have been revealed.

With some of the most important members of the fashion industry acknowledging the need to take advantage of technology, we’re sure to see plenty of new innovations geared towards everything from connecting with customers to building brand awareness to increasing sales and more. As the targeted consumers, what type of apps and other technological developments would you like to see within the fashion industry? Maybe the hackathon winners will be able to offer just what you’re looking for!

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