Welcome to the FashTech Form, a fifteen-part questionnaire for the makers and shakers of fashion tech. In this series, we extract solid advice from leading thinkers, entrepreneurs, and creatives at the crosshairs of fashion and technology. Today, we speak with Alex Semenzato, Founder and CEO of FashTech, a community and summit series exploring the intersection of fashion and tech. Look out for their upcoming summit in London.
Alex Semenzato, CEO & Founder of FashTech, is an entrepreneur and community architect who has lived in London, New York and Los Angeles. With a background in fashion, film, marketing and technology, Alex gained invaluable experience at the forefront of a global image recognition and search company and led the expansion of a New York office.
In 2014, Alex launched FashTech, an exciting, young start-up that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation in fashion and retail by pushing brands to experiment with emerging technologies in a disruptive fashion. With 21 global events in locations like San Francisco, New York, Austin and London, FashTech’s following is now big enough to warrant its first major summit in London.
Fash Tech Form
1. Describe your work and how it sits at the intersection of fashion and tech?
FashTech taps into the pain points of fashion brands and retailers, offering a comprehensive view of the landscape through dynamic, interactive events that showcase the future of the industry. Sitting at the intersection of the fashion and tech worlds, we provide an invaluable platform for both sectors to come together and discover the most innovative and disruptive ways in which to use one another’s knowledge to further progress their own work. We hope that by getting these industry leaders and emerging techs together in the same room, we are creating the invaluable opportunity to accelerate innovation and collaboration.
2. What led you to the career you’re currently in?
I have always been fascinated by the fashion industry and how it works as a business, and in February 2014 there was a huge buzz in London around this emerging industry, fashion tech. There was a lot of interest from major brands to discover what all the hype was about and how they could ultimately implement some of this new innovation. From this, I decided to build a community and put on our first event, which I thought would be 20 people in Starbucks and ended up being 250 people at Google Campus, London. FashTech was born!
3. What do you find most rewarding about your role? Most challenging?
It is a very exciting and rewarding role as we are in the thick of it. Our job is to connect this new industry and it’s very rewarding that we are growing a global community. Receiving great feedback from people that have attended our events and hearing that people have networked and as a result have created a new partnership, received investment or made a new friend is fantastic to hear! In regards to most challenging, it’s a new industry and with that brands and retailers can be hesitant to try out new technology. Ironically fashion is all about new ideas and trying out new styles and trends… the last couple of years I feel have been the experimentation phase and I am excited for 2016 and beyond, as I think things are just about to heat up.
4. What does “fashion tech” mean to you?
I get asked this a lot. Rather than delve into a long-winded answer, I like to keep it short and sweet and just say one word: Experience
5. Describe your style in one sentence
Lean, agile, creative.
6. What’s something in your closet that you’d never give up and why?
Hangers – have to make sure those shirts stay crease-free!
7. What’s the most compelling or exciting piece of fashion tech you’ve discovered or worked on recently?
I am fascinated by the work of Suzanne Lee and the idea that we can be growing our own clothes from material produced from bacteria (biocouture). Technology is allowing us to explore.
8. Where do you draw inspiration from?
I am inspired by great people, and I am very fortunate to have some great mentors. I’m quite creative; I love art, design and photography. Getting lost and exploring on Instagram always proves fruitful to find some cool ideas!
9. Describe how technology has changed your work or impacted your role?
There would be no Fashion-Technology without technology!
10. How can fashion tech help us be more human?
Check out Vinaya. They say – wellbeing innovation will come as a result of using modern technology to analyze our psychological responses. We will therefore make smart decisions for our minds, just as we make smart decisions for our bodies through nutrition and exercise.
11. What do you think fashion can learn from technology?
I believe there are many aspects that fashion can learn from technology. If fashion brands can behave more like tech companies in their overall structure—organizing resources internally for innovation, acting as a platform to the consumer across multiple channels, and utilizing data effectively—there will be a lot of positive change.
12. What do you think technology can learn from fashion?
I think one thing that technology is lacking hugely is an exciting shopping experience for their devices being sold in-store. Fashion is fantastic at providing that ‘must have now’ moment, turning the buying experience into an event/experience in order to keep their shoppers interested and generate maximum revenue. Consumer electronics, on the other hand, haven’t nailed this yet. They’re selling entertainment and yet their in-store experience is lacking just that. The fashion world could definitely teach them something here— it is no longer enough to expect a purchase from a mere ‘touch and feel in-store’ set-up.
13. What’s the most exciting element of fashion tech to you? Most challenging?
I’d say collaboration for both. The merging of thought leaders in these two giant industries is so exciting to me. But there can also be a hurdle here because fashion tech is still a term that needs a little push in reaching and connecting with the masses. As I said in answer 3, it’s a new industry, and with that brands and retailers can be hesitant to try out new technology. But it’s only a matter of time.
14. What’s the future of fashion IYO?
It’s very hard to predict and to understand what technological trends will be adopted and achieve critical mass and what won’t. I think the last couple of years have been of experimentation and you are starting to see a shift in what brands/retailers are implementing. Just take a look at what has been announced this year from luxury brands in regards to fashion shows: there seems to be shift in focus on consumer/retail strategy. Luxury is finally having to meet the demands of a digital consumer that is used to being able to buy something straight away when they see it and not have to wait 6 months after the catwalk. This is just the beginning…
15. Who would you like to see featured in the #FashTechForm?
Nancy Tilbury, Kate Unsworth, and Suzanne Lee
Save the date! FashTech is hosting its London Summit April 13th-15th. Details and more information here.