The fashion industry keeps losing talent to technology companies. The departure of Burberry's former CEO for Apple landed Angela Ahrendts, 53, a $67 million bonus. While it gives us hints about what's to come from the Big A, it leaves the fashion industry with a gaping hole in knowledge and knowhow when it comes to the rise of social media and online digital services. In the fashion world, platforms supporting ecommerce, search, social, marketing, and media relations communicate with each other, but don't partner as much as they could. Bringing technology into the world of fashion would bridge the gap.
Fashion's talent war with technology companies prompted Karen Harvey, founder of an executive search and consulting firm specializing in C-level placement of designers, to launch a "smart event" in Manhattan June 25 -- The Fashion Tech Forum -- a platform for startups to bridge the gap between technology and fashion. The submission process for entries ends May 21. "Both technology and fashion companies need to learn from each other," she said.
The Founders of the Future Challenge aims to discover the next brand or product that transforms fashion through technology. The FTF is looking for tech gurus with innovative ideas and platforms designed to support companies in the fashion world. The forum will give three finalists an opportunity to present at the forum on the main stage to a judging panel that includes Lew Frankfort, executive chairman at Coach; Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Gal; David Tisch, managing partner at Boxgroup; and Rebekka Bay, creative director at Gap. The winner will receive $50,000 seed funding and six week mentoring program from leaders who are experts in fashion, tech, retail, design, and finance.
Another example is Amazon Fashion president Cathy Beaudoin, who joined the company after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos invited her to build a virtual equivalent of Melrose Avenue or Via Monte Napoleone. She was running Gap's Piperlime shoe site at the time.
Harvey declined to offer insight on where she thinks wearable devices will end up two years from now (that's a different story), but did say the fashion industry needs to stop the talent bleed of icons like Ahrendts. It also needs to teach fashion brands how to innovate through technology to build processes and best practices, as well as market wares online.
One technology hub Harvey described called TheRunThrough was founded by Mandy Tang and Meggan Crum, two editors from a fashion magazine, provides a digital showroom. The platform aims to make it easier for designers and editors to connect and find photos of specific products they can use in a magazine or campaign. Think of it as a hub or global showroom for images geared toward fashion.