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Is fashion in fashion at SXSW?

Style X is a new tag assigned to all things fashion-related.

From wearable technology and fashion media to ethical business practices and entrepreneurship, it signals SXSW organizers’ commitment to programming for the burgeoning fashion tech scene.

However, this has not always been the case in the two decades since multimedia was officially added to the Austin festival’s agenda.

Sowing the seeds

Veteran tech attendee, Liza Kindred of Third Wave Fashion, recalls this subtle shift:

This is my tenth SXSWi – I’ve been coming for a full decade now, and I remember distinctly the first time that the word “fashion” made the program.

I also remember, a few years ago, looking at the airport security line and seeing Acne boots and Stella bags for the first time.

Technology is fashionable

So why fashion, and why now?

According to Kindred, what’s happened is that for so many consumers, technology IS fashion.

Not only have we seen thousands of fashion tech startups launch in the last few years, we’ve also seen mobile phones and connected devices edge out fashion for disposable income.

The two worlds have merged, and it’s evident by the change in programming at the event itself, as well all the fashion events that now take place peripherally.


Kicking off the Style X programme

Our invitation to open Style X programming came after a chance meeting with SXSW organisers at the Dublin Web Summit in October.

They’d received plenty of PanelPicker submissions regarding wearables, but relatively few relating to consumer fashion and retail solutions – despite the $1.6 bn invested in fashion technology in 2012 alone.

Big plans

Still in beta, we have big ambitions for Coldlilies.

We’re a global online destination for designer jewellery, so we jumped at the opportunity to host a session exploring the new technologies that are revolutionising fashion and retail.

Beyond the Marketplace

On Friday Kindred and Liz Bacelar of Decoded Fashion joined us for the panel entitled Fashion Retail Solutions: Beyond the Marketplace – four female founders on what happens to be the eve of International Women’s Day.

Bacelar – who heads up the New York-based think tank – will also host a Mentorship Hub where attending entrepreneurs can sign up for face-to-face meetings with top executives.

The likes of Chanel, Calvin Klein, kate+spade, Neiman Marcus, Ralph Lauren and AllSaints will be represented.

What to watch out for

Other notable Style X highlights include Saturday’s “Nasty Gal: Turning Heads While Turning Profits” interview with Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal

She’ll discuss the bold trajectory of the business – from a one-woman vintage store on eBay to raising $50 million in funding.

Also promising is Sunday’s “Next Generation Retail Stores” panel, an omni-channel masterclass from Bonobos CFO, Bryan Wolff.

More than a trend

SXSW is recognising that fashion technology is more than a trend, however.

There’s clearly an appetite for more input, and an opportunity for more startups, like us, to bring it. is the destination for curated and coveted designer jewellery from Britain & Ireland’s most exciting established and emergent designers. Still in beta, the vision is for Coldlilies to become the world’s premier online destination for designer jewellery.