Last year saw a major influx of new fashion-focused tech startups. With the early success of pioneers like Gilt Groupe and Ideeli, an industry that has typically been slow to embrace new technology has spawned a burgeoning community of game-changing ecommerce sites, mobile apps and social networking and discovery platforms. And with no shortage of new ideas or interest from financial backers, this influx shows no signs of slowing down in 2012--and we think that's very exciting. With new start-ups popping up almost daily, we set out to discover which ones are doing it right, how they’re all being funded, and what 2012 holds for the fashion tech biz.
Norma Kamali is one of my industry idols. Not only because she makes a great swimsuit, but because she runs a successful, independent business pretty much on her own. A business that includes a flagship store, a diffusion line sold at department stores like Bloomingdale's, a bustling online retail site, a massive deal with Wal-Mart, and special projects with eBay as well as several other mini ventures. That's why she's the ideal keynote speaker for FashInvest's first annual conference, taking place December 15 at FIT. Neil Cole, CEO of Iconix Brand Group, which owns everything from Madonna's Material Girl collection for Macy's to Candie's to London Fog, is the other keynote speaker. FashInvest is a New York-based organization formed by a group of venture capitalists, private equity managers, and fashion company executives who want to help emerging designers and other fashion entrepreneurs find funding. Unlike Fashionstake, another fashion/business startup I've written about, there's really no crowdsourcing involved. It's all about finding the right investors for your specific brand.