Fashion Week has always been viewed as a competition among designers to “out-weird” each other. In Silicon Valley, clothing label Betabrand is clearly the latest winner.
This morning, when I arrived at work, I clicked on a link to read a Business Insider article titled, “This fashion brand used drones instead of models at their runway show in Silicon Valley.” Before me was video footage of a Silicon Valley Fashion Week? show (the question mark is deliberate, though no one is quite sure why, except, maybe it’s there because SV is mostly considered a boys club, and a sweatshirt-sneaker clad one at that), replete with lights, untz-music, and clothing streaming down the runway…on-hangers attached to drones. I looked down at my bagel and thought, “What did they put in this cream cheese?”
Thankfully, my breakfast wasn’t laced with hallucinogens. Rather, that’s just how things work when Betabrand is in charge. It’s a brand known for doing things differently, to say the least, and has truly come into its own over the past several years. (After all, this label is the one that introduced the world to the glass-ball-emulating Disco Pants.) Naturally, when such a company is tasked with producing Silicon Valley Fashion Week?, starting with the event name’s unconventional use of punctuation, it’s bound to be unique. Not only that, but the concept was wildly well-received before it even happened, completely selling out several days prior to its first day.
Each night’s events were dedicated to a different element of the intersection of fashion and technology, beginning with May 12’s “Motion and Light: The New Commuter” theme, which was presented by electric bike makers GenZe. Judging from the media coverage that SVFW? has received, the events were a fanciful combination of fashion and performance art; for example, trapeze artists swinging from suspended bicycles, mixed with illuminated pieces of clothing and accessories. To say it was futuristic is an understatement; in fact, SVFW? very much seemed to celebrate the present.
That was particularly evident during the festive observance of wearable technology, going beyond smart watches and web-enabled glasses. The pieces showcased were downright practical; Elektronista’s iPhone- and iPad-charging clutch, for example, will certainly be going on my list for Santa.
Despite selling out as quickly as it did, there was some amount of pre-conceived skepticism around SVFW?. Some found it absurdist, and perhaps even unnecessary, with GQ labeling it as “probably not a good idea” in advance. However, Betabrand‘s timing of and approach to SVFW? is actually quite brilliant; consumers who ordered them in time are finally receiving their Apple watches, the buzz around which has yet to fade. And, as the same GQ article notes, previous “attempts to introduce wearable tech during actual fashion weeks have fallen flat,” highlighting the value of dedicating three days exclusively to something that has gone well beyond a trend. In fact, in its execution of SVFW?, Betabrand isn’t really showcasing a certain kind of look. Rather, it’s showcasing a lifestyle that’s only going to become increasingly accessible and, consequently, familiar.
With the pace at which the elements of such lifestyles develop, I’m eager to see what is available to be demonstrated at future editions of SVFW?. Furthermore, I’m keeping my eye on Betabrand, and how its forward-thinking legacy continues to influence what it produces, especially in the context of technology. Everyone is welcome to submit their ideas; just check out the manufacturer’s public Think Tank. Might I suggest a WiFi-enabled Tinder Cap, which allows its users to swipe right for potential dates on the bill of a hat without fear of public embarrassment?
The possibilities are endless.
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Images: Happy Nerdcore
Top Image: Betabrand