New York Fashion Tech Lab Program Debuts at Hearst Tower

The results of a twelve-week fashion and tech mentorship were revealed at a packed midtown event

The Hearst Tower saw quite a bit of traffic from tech and fashion nerds alike on Thurs., July 25, during the pilot event for the New York Fashion Tech Lab (NYFTL), a twelve-week program featuring a partnership between start-up tech companies and successful fashion brands. Sponsored by Springboard Enterprises and the Partnership Fund for New York City, the program created a mentorship relationship between both well-established fashion brands, such as J.Crew, Kate Spade, Alex and Ani, among others and young tech brands with the hopes of creating more jobs in the New York global fashion epicenter.

As the main attraction of the NYFTL event, the team partnerships presented their products and ideas to a roomful of fashion retailers, with the goal to gain interest and investment. Each fashion brand introduced their “mentee” lab company and spoke about the strides they had made together during the twelve week program. In turn, the individual lab companies spoke about their product and the vision they see for their creation. Many presenters, such as Perch Interactive Inc., focused on how to revolutionize the shopping process by making the in-store product an interactive digital interface to entice consumers. And others, such as delivery service Suddenlee, developed how to serve consumers after the point of purchase.

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Maria Gotsch, president and CEO of Partnership Fund for New York City, says the program is a forward-thinking one; the pairing with tech and fashion could help launch brands into the future of wearable tech. She spoke of one particular brand, Stylit, which matches a shopper’s personal style or “style DNA” to online products that match their style.

“It’s very easy to imagine these brand parnterships involving wearable tech,” Gostch said. “You can imagine Stylit recommending a wearable and sending a consumer to the site where they can buy that piece.”

Many of these partnerships are already focusing on digital trends, particularly the social media sites that countless millennials use to seek out their favorite fashion trends. Stylinity, who was paired with New York fashion staple Kate Spade, debuted their take on the “shoppable selfie.” Stylinty CEO and founder, Tadd Spering, said the app takes what millions of millennials already do and converts that process into something that will better serve retailers and consumers.

The Stylinity app allows in-store shoppers to scan the barcode on the item they like, take a photo by propping their phone in the “selfie station” in the store and uploading to their Instagram account. When shoppers’ friends see their styles, they can click on the “I want it” button and are directed to the store’s website. Spering says this process allows retailers to track how the consumers purchase their products, while providing an alternative to the awkward blurry-dressing-room selfie.

By tapping into what other fashion brands are doing to increase customer interest, including Vogue’s shoppable Instagram account, the NYFTL partnerships seek to create a holistic fashion environment geared toward the future achievements of the fashion industry.

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