During New York Fashion Week this year, Google partnered up with brands like Marc Jacobs and Burberry to generate human-curated results when users searched for one of the brands. The curated results led users directly to items chosen by designers. The partnership is one of many that are bringing technology and fashion closer together.
After moving to Atlanta from D.C. two years ago, Okey Nwoke saw this intersection as an opportunity to develop a community here in Atlanta and to encourage discussion between the two industries. The ATL Fashion Tech Collective brings together the local fashion and technology community and promotes innovative partnerships in design, retail and brand awareness. Nwoke’s background in technology along with interests in his Nigerian heritage’s culture, fashion, and music help inform his passion.
With events like “A Night with Pioneers” and “How to Build and Grow an Online Store,” Nwoke engages and highlights entrepreneurs currently impacting how fashion tech is evolving in our city. Here, he talks about the most exciting trends in fashion tech and how the Collective is contributing to its prominence in the South.
Why is Atlanta an important epicenter for this movement?
Fashion tech is more than LED shirts or dresses, it’s about using technology to solve problems that exist within the fashion system. I honestly believe in a few years we won’t use the phrase “fashion tech,” but simply fashion.
Hollywood is now in Atlanta and Hollywood brings fashion with it. Atlanta also has a huge entertainment/music and art/culture scene, which brings fashion. Atlanta has also proven to be a player in the tech scene. There are so many startups doing groundbreaking work and gaining national attention. It’s honestly an exciting time to be here. The fact that Atlanta has the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country is amazing to me. I’m from Washington, D.C. and moved here only two years ago. From an outside perspective, I can see all of these aspects of Atlanta and appreciate the city. It’s almost a perfect storm moment for the city and I think the collective can play a unique part in this movement.
How is the Fashion Tech Collective helping to promote the community?
There are silos that sit between fashion and technology, which hinders innovation. This is the root problem we are trying to solve. I do think we are starting to see some of these silos break down. No brand wants to be seen as being anti-innovative and resistant to the times.
I believe we are contributing to the fashion tech community in Atlanta by creating a space for discussion. For people interested in this space to feel like they can belong to a community, and ultimately, collaborate and make innovative ideas happen.
What are some exciting trends underway?
I am really interested in Virtual Reality, 3D printing, and augmented reality. I’m excited to see how these technologies will continue to develop and the impact they will have on fashion. For example, this year’s 3D printed show Nike debuted in Rio for the Olympics. I also love how brands are starting to think about linking the online and in-store experience. Rebecca Minkoff is doing really groundbreaking work with her store in New York. I think retail will evolve in this way.
How’d you get the idea for it?
The collective to me honestly started through my curiosity. I thought to myself, “what would it look like to start a conversation about fashion to programmers and developers, or to talk about programming to fashion designers?” Could there be synergy here? The collective was started when I noticed the interest and growing dialogue in this area. As interest grew, I decided to form a community.