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Fashion Flies High When Drones Replace Models on the Catwalk

Haute couture meets quadcopter at the first-ever Silicon Valley fashion week.

Drones strut their stuff on the runways at SVFW? image via Betabrand.

Fashion and Silicon Valley aren’t necessarily synonymous, as proved by Mark Zuckerburg’s signature hoodies and the cast wardrobe of a certain HBO show. However, the land of start-up bros and Apple-compatible accessories just got a whole lot more stylish with the launch of its first ever, non-Merecedes Benz affiliated, Fashion Week yesterday. The three-day event is sponsored by Betabrand, who, as we previously reported, is known for using drones and satellite imagery to inspire its textiles. They have also recently collaborated with artist Trevor Paglen on a series of black-ops inspired puff jackets. Silicon Valley Fashion Week?—yes that question mark is intentional—seeks to replace stick-thin models with drones and robots flying (or hovering) clothes down the runway. Each night is divided into different tech categories, including electric motion, wearable tech, and crowdfunding. Brands taking part include 3M, Misfit Wearables, and Pebble, as well as local San Franciscan designers and creators.

A close-up of the drone models.

Creator and CEO of Betabrands Chris Lindlund demonstrates.

Drones doing non-terrifying things.

The festivities, so far, have received less-than-celebratory feedback from the fashion community, with GQ piping in, "Seriously, tech bros. Stay in your lane, we’ll stay in ours. Silicon Valley Fashion Week? Please, don’t ask." This doesn’t deter Betabrand CEO Chris Lindland, however, who takes his inspiration more from Burning Man than Betsey Johnson. "The opinion is that this is not a fashionable place because the dress code is jeans and hoodies,” Lindland told Business Insider. “However, a lot of those jeans and hoodie wearers are sitting there pouring over how to make iWatches beautiful," Lindland said. "iWatches and iPhones literally affect a person's identity and style. Like it or not, this part of the world is contributing to fashion."

At this time, the show is almost sold out and Lindland thinks this is partially due to the real hunger in Silicon Valley for innovation and collaboration, as well as some fun. “If you look at what people do creatively in the Bay Area, it's gargantuan. It's just that no one has said 'Let's use a runway to demonstrate that,'" Lindland said. "Normally it's a stage. It's TED. It's a demo. The difference was to say, 'What if you strut it, not just talk about it?'"

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