Shoppertainment: Tracking this Season’s Featured Technology in hiTechMODA

When hiTechMODA first came on the NYFW scene in September 2017, Producer Pamela Privette, Curator/Creative Director Catherine Schuller and Brenda Jameson, COO, had an idea that the future of fashion and the key to innovation was technology. And not like Fashion Institute of Technology’s name suggests, the study of technique, but how the proliferation of the computer and the explosion of the internet, software applications, cyber advancements and digital tools would jettison the capabilities of how we produced, consumed, marketed and experienced fashion.

Every aspect of fashion was affected, therefore. There was the garment creation aspect, so we began our concentration that first season on the use of pattern making software called TailorNova for sample making and prototype development. We held a contest and designers would be required to use the pattern making software to create their lines in several different categories, Couture, Women’s Contemporary and DIY. The contest was a success even though there was a huge learning curve in getting designers to leave their dress form draping skills and sloper (the pattern template) making protocol on the cutting room floor. It served to show us that the future was definitely digital, although fashion designers seemed slow to adopt and convert. We had patience!!

Our next tech foray was with AI and fashion using robotic kits. Clothing was designed with the functionality of being operational and decorative. Flashing LED lights embedded in garment designs, battery pack/button operated movement and a seminar that featured the ultimate model, Sophia the Robot! It was here with our alliance with 360Fashion Network that we were introduced to Fashion Week Online, and we joined the AI Rights Society and discovered the Fashion Week of the Future in RNWY Universe and the kickass glamorous geek, Samantha. That was an eye-opening week and the robotic fashion aspect managed to somehow put some of the “tech” in hiTechMODA for Season 2. There was the production technology aspect considering that our event moved from a hotel to the new state of the art venue, National Geographic Encounter space.

Set in the heart of the Theatre District and steps off Shubert Alley, the venue morphed into a showcase with a 45-foot video screen alongside the runway that displayed the artist’s inspirations and creative interpretations of their clothing designs along with surround sound, lights, and audio visuals to rival any rock concert. This production tech backdrop added a new techno dimension that interacted with the runway designs. It was the debut of the sustainable catwalk, too, perfect for National Geographic’s planet preservation vibe. ReGen Runway opened with an homage to Mother Earth featuring two Native American designers, followed by Filipino designers, zero waste, eco aware, low batch/slow fashion designers who made the statement to the audience about the greening of the conscious catwalk. The irony of ReGen was it was a return to a more natural and less toxic supply chain protocol, albeit the way it is promoted and produced has new innovations in technology which contributes to the lessening of our impact and overall carbon footprint.

Season 3 is going to see every mantra we are known for come into play. Not only has technology become our mission, but opportunity. We are a show about opportunity, albeit for models, designers, photographers, stylists, makeup artists, hair dressers, accessory creators, painters, entrepreneurs – but showing that art and fashion are inextricably intertwined and the two can make very interesting bedfellows. This season, we’ve brought every aspect to the show…almost a farm-to-closet type of appeal regardless of which of the shows you want to examine. Decidedly low tech on the creation of garments for ReGen and even our Couture show will feature real bonafide designers who weren’t making fashion to sell millions of units…sort of a back to basics approach and de-industrializing the processes by which clothing is created. We are putting the green in evergreen. Classics are the best to purchase for wardrobe longevity and signature style. No longer thousands and thousands of units mass produced and marketed to the craving consumers who wanted cheap and chic, regardless of who, how or where it was manufactured. With the fashion industry being the number two most toxic industry after oil, some awareness needs to be directed to make everyone more “woke.”

One of the most toxic aspects of the apparel industry, manufacturing methodology aside, is the distribution and delivery currently being utilized. There is a huge shift in the retail paradigm and hiTechMODA wants to be one of the first early adaptors and show our fans and followers what the new shift entails. The antiquated protocol existed for decades where buyers and/or fashion merchandisers placed orders during market week from the samples they saw on the runways. Then production of units started based on orders and popularity of styles, etc. This meant the merchandise had to be a season ahead, therefore the shows followed their ordering and delivering schedules – showing spring in fall for an August delivery and showing fall fashions in the spring for a March delivery.

Fashion Week developed around buyers and their arrival in town to view collections and place orders. The “tents” were borne out of the need to streamline the getting around the garment district process and keep everyone under one roof to see the newest collections and order from there. But with the changing landscape of retail due to much online purchasing, this system has become a thing of the past. And with so much celebrity attendance and front row hoopla, the tents have become a whole other layer entirely. People who want to be part of the NY Fashion scene want to attend all the shows, and the interest has skyrocketed. The initial reason for the shows creation has become a thing of the past. Mostly in part because of the retail stores shuttering their doors and everyone scrambling for new ways to get the goods to the customer.

hiTechMODA was created to address these visitors who are just the “regular folk” who also happen to contribute to the $900 million dollars generated in New York during fashion week alone. People make pilgrimages to the city during this time in hopes of being part of the fashion crowd going to all the shows around town. These are the real buyers who come into town and stay in hotels, eat in restaurants and want to take home some of the flavor of the shows and have unique, slow fashion items that no one else has. It is to this end that hiTechMODA is marketing the real wave of buying protocol….. the “see now/buy now” concept of live fashion show shopping. They began rolling out the live fashion show concept last year (in reality Catherine Schuller’s Runway the Real Way fashion brunch featured the Stylaga app that allowed for purchasing that day) and they have focused on ways to make the runway shows a veritable pop up shop during the fashion show, and to enable our fans to purchase something from the runway or from the hiTechMODA website for months after the show has finished. This is an amazing opportunity for those designers who need to have people buy their unique designs and have something that no one else has in their circle of family and friends.

The appeal for this “tech” aspect of our show is that you can buy during the runway event or purchase what you saw later up on our website. We even have a measuring app that allows you to shop with confidence that your size is the size of the garment and matches the sizing charts. This means that there will be less returns, less fuel used to deliver the garments that only get returned or never worn because of poor fit. The technology that matches, allows consumers to shop with impunity and wear what they actually buy and have it look great, is probably the biggest advancement that hiTechMODA will introduce this season and perfect in the seasons to come. As that second tier, high quality show, that is the People’s Passarella (Italian for catwalk!) we aim to acclimate the new generation of runway attendees into shopping live from the runway, and then watch the shows later online and have the opportunity to purchase online from our distribution channel that interfaces with a measuring accuracy function. We are calling it Shoppertainment….!!

Tech and fashion are serious partners these days and hiTechMODA has its finger on the purchasing pulse of the new wave of fashion goers who want to buy unique, well-crafted and constructed and art to wear power pieces that they can have for years to come. The evergreen aspect of fashion is what is driving our initiative now. We are defining, developing and doing the showcase that is the must attend ticket. We are about diversity and invite and embrace every aspect of the artistic disciplines. Everyone can find their voice on our stage. From dancers, singers and performers, to artists and designers, the stage has been set and the tech has been defined for us to now develop and build out even further. Diversity and inclusivity is another aspect of our direction. It’s all about equality and expression.

It’s good to be on the cusp of reinventing the fashion show format. We hope you join us at National Geographic Encounter space at 226 West 44th Street in the heart of the Theatre District just steps off Times Square ……for our shows. Saturday, February 8th – Mini MODA I (children’s wear) at 11 am, Mini MODA II (Children and pre-teens), ReGen Runway at 5 pm with our emphasis on global fashion and Australian Recovery at 5 pm and our red carpet and couture designers at 8 pm. Afterparty at the Ocean Odyssey space right in National Geographic’s event venue….10 pm till 1 am. You won’t want to miss this start of fashion week, and you will want to say you witnessed the new TECH in hiTechMODA. Tech is everywhere and so are we!! Go to www.hitechmoda.com for all the information you need to absorb our show’s history and future all in one place!!!

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With love,

FWO