Co.Design

J.Crew And Kate Spade To Foster The Next Big Fashion Tech Startups

A new accelerator, New York Fashion Tech Lab, offers mentorships with top retailers for companies working at the intersection of fashion, retail, and technology.

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only," Coco Chanel once said. "Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." Today, the truth of Chanel’s statement is particularly evident in the burgeoning intersection of fashion and technology. What with bras that tweet, Warby Parker-designed Google Glass, and an app that hunts down that cool bag you saw on the subway, the way we shop and dress ourselves increasingly relies on the digital.

The New York Tech Fashion Lab is a new accelerator program founded by Lisa Morales-Hellebo that hopes to support young and growing companies innovating in fashion, retail, and technology. Morales-Hellebo knows first-hand how challenging it can be to launch a new company in this arena. She was the founder and former CEO of the now-defunct fashion tech startup Shopsy. "Fashion tech is such a diverse space," Morales-Hellebo tells Co.Design. "People don’t really get how broad it is and how nascent it is."

The lab, a collaboration between the Partnership Fund for New York City, Springboard Enterprises, and major fashion retailers, is accepting applications through tomorrow from fashion tech startups. Six to eight startups will then win the opportunity to be mentored by retailers—including Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Macy’s, and the Estee Lauder Company—over the course of a 12-week program, which will culminate in a demo day.

"New York City is the epicenter of all things fashion tech," Morales-Hellebo says, "but currently, there’s a lack of real collaboration between retailers and the startups trying to serve them. This fills that hole."

The fashion and technology market has been growing exponentially according to Morales-Hellebo. "In the past few years, we went from Makerbot being an odd concept to people having 3-D printers in their home," she says.

One day, who know? We might be downloading access codes to print a new pair of Gucci shoes on a 3-D printer. Learn more about New York Fashion Tech Lab's program by clicking here. Applications close tomorrow, April 4.

[Image: Fashion model via Shutterstock]

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