Photo: Eli Zaturankski
When you throw an event called Silicon Valley Fashion Week?, even with the question mark at the end, there are going to be expectations. We’re going to want to see Silicon Valley’s definition of fashion. We’re going to want to see how the tech industry will reimagine the things we put on our bodies. We’re going to want to see how we’ll all dress in the future. And because you’re Silicon Valley, and real things are happening here, things that are redefining and influencing the cultural landscape, we’re going to take you seriously. Sorry, we just are.
I approached the first two nights of the three night event feeling both snotty and skeptical—I spent a decade covering the fashion industry’s traditional fashion weeks, so go ahead, show me fashion—but also hopeful. A robot might not replace a Cara or Karlie, but maybe I would see the next Apple Watch, the next hologram dress. Instead, I saw things I’d already seen before. And as an admitted Luddite, that’s saying something. Night one’s theme was commuting and so everything on the runway was focused, mostly, on bicycling. There were gloves that had turn signals and light-reflective vests. I wouldn’t say they were particularly stylish, but I could see the safety value. The thing is, they already exist. They’re for sale online. One guy came out with a solar panel briefcase that allows you to charge your phone. Even I knew those had been invented. Why should I get excited about it now? Not to mention, the significance of these products lies in how they’re used. It’s hard to convey that on a runway. It’s much easier to appreciate a couture dress just by looking at it.
Photo: Eli Zaturankski
The second night was more fashion-y, you could say, in that the focus was more on clothes. Models came out in spangly lame bodysuits (based on the presentation the tech seemed to be that they had pockets) and a cape that had been GIF-printed—which could be cool in the hands of the right imaginative designer. Heidi Lee’s spacey hats, which have been worn by Lady Gaga, were fun to see in person, as were the dresses with the fiberoptic fringe. But again, new? Not so much. Katy Perry wore a light up dress by London company CuteCircuit to the Met gala five years ago.
Overall the event seemed designed to provoke outsiders and entertain insiders. And the producers themselves seemed to not take the whole thing too seriously. Look, we have drones! And there are pants printed with images of the Virgin Mary on them! But again, I hate to say it, I saw a drone outside Alexander Wang’s fall 2015 show. I’m not saying high fashion wins, or that it was even Alexander Wang’s idea, maybe someone in the room last night was the one who sent it there, but I’ve seen it before.
Had the event been called what it was—a marketing night with some sideshows, an open bar and cool things you can find online—they would have completely fulfilled their promise. But the organizers chose to give it a name they knew would grab attention, whether or not they’d live up to the claim, and, as a result, outlets like New York magazine and The New Yorker sent reporters to cover it. I just wish we’d have seen something new.