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NYC Fashion Hack Day 2012 (Fashion Needs Hacks)

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“It’s essential for the industry to attract people with deep technology skills and keep them so that it can benefit from the hacker attitude of developing an idea, making it quickly, and iterating on it – and not just build sites that simply display fashion and never evolve.”

By Sindy Sagastume (Founder, The Odd Slipper)

Last Saturday I had the chance to attend NYC Fashion Hack Day hosted by Gilt Groupe, Tumblr and Apigee. The event turned out exactly what I thought and hoped it would be, except for the part where our team would win.

Though I have limited technical background, hackathons sound amazing. It can be intimidating for women, especially those like me, to strike up conversation and join a team. So when I learned about this event, my initial reaction was blissful joy. Somehow this didn’t seem as intimidating – most likely because I was so excited about the fashion part and was ready to shed my spectator costume in exchange for a participant’s outfit.

After hearing short presentations from members of Tumblr, Apigee, and Gilt’s own engineers, we broke into teams and started brainstorming ideas. There were more or less 13 teams including a few solos, but all teams with at least 2 people had women. In fact, the ratio at this hackathon was female-strong. The results were ideas that truly thought about improving the fashion/shopping experience, which for those obsessed with la mode, you know how interesting and how enormous of an undertaking it is within the fashion industry.

We saw a team using the Gilt API to create an app that searches for certain items on Gilt, for example “black pumps” and returns all appropriate results. Another team developed a way to comment on items you were thinking of purchasing on Gilt and share those comments. Another larger team used a combination of resources to build a site that would help fashion stylists have better access to items around the city.

For my own team, we wanted to use the API to search for all items on the small and large ends of the size scale and improve the user experience of those consumers not “average sized” who have a hard time browsing sales that have only a handful of items suited for them.

A few things were clear after enjoying this hackathon experience. First, many women (and some men) love fashion, and they are ready to be an active part in improving this industry through technology. Second, it’s essential for the industry to attract people with deep technology skills and keep them so that it can benefit from the hacker attitude of developing an idea, making it quickly, and iterating on it – and not just build sites that simply display fashion and never evolve.

In order for the fashion industry to move forward with technology, it must open itself up – and how great it is that Gilt took an early step by letting us play with their API and think of different ways we could use it to improve this delightful thing called shopping.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Sindy Sagastume is the Founder of The Odd Slipper, a site currently providing shoes to women with petite feet in sizes 3-5.5, with the help of customers’ votes and comments. Her goal is to serve the entire petite women’s community with fashion merchandise and other products that are better fitting for their 5’2” and below frame. She is an adventure traveler and passionate dog lover. Sindy holds a BS from NYU Stern in Marketing and International Business. Follow her on Twitter at @sindysagastume.