Why ‘Silicon Valley Fashion Week?!’ Is Not a Joke

SAN FRANCISCO — The fashion curious have come out to see and be seen at Silicon Valley Fashion Week?! — the punctuation marks are part of the name and the attitude that accompanies the three-day event.

This is the second time that Chris Lindland, founder of e-commerce retailer Betabrand, has organized the variety show, which ends today. It brings to life the fun-loving, forward-thinking brand of infotainment that has become a Betabrand signature, combining fashion and tech with song and dance numbers and — wait for it — drones. Oh, and a llama, courtesy of Zappos. This year, the whole shebang is sponsored by the Las Vegas-based e-tailer, which Lindland called a welcome endorsement.

“It’s an indication of the fact that we are on to something — a multibillion dollar e-commerce leader saying nope, this is real,” Lindland said, adding that the whimsical party scene is second nature to Zappos.

The event, held at 1425 Market Street, was sold out on its first night. Presentations included bras from Bloom Bra, a demonstration from Pebble, “progressive” headpiece fashion and LED-lit clothing. This was to be followed by a photo-friendly presentation of futuristic, experimental clothing and accessories, including robots, 3-D body scanning. Later, Betabrand presented its own creations, which are crowdsourced and voted on before going into production. One most popular item is the “dress pant yoga pants,” which include more formal styling and stretch fabrics.

At a time when many eyeballs — and dollars — are being directed toward Silicon Valley, the idea of a fashion week has become more experiential and inclusive.

Lindland, who was inspired by both Maker Faire and Comic Con, said he hopes to see the audience become increasingly more involved. “It may seem like a hokey comparison, but it’s not at all. Comic Con is a perfect balance between people showing stuff and the audience. I feel that a party like this needs to be something in which the audience is as much a show as the show itself.”

Even though Saturday’s event is a costume party, he hopes that one day, that designation will no longer be necessary. (In a town full of Burning Man veterans and full-throttle costume parties, this shouldn’t be a problem.) This isn’t dissimilar from New York Fashion Week, where attendees — and those waiting outside — compete with the runway for clicks and shares.

To Lindland, the event will be a success if the audience has grown more creative and weird — “an indication that there is a life to this, and people onstage will live up to the audience,” he said.

And next year, he hinted, an emoji is the most likely candidate to be added to the title.

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