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Solar Panel Bags, Jackets That Hold Laptops, Drone Mannequins, & More from Silicon Valley Fashion Week

As someone who returned to San Francisco after years of covering fashion weeks around the world for Vogue, I was intrigued when my editor came calling with the request to report on Silicon Valley Fashion Week. First of all, it’s not really a week at all (more like three days), but what could we possibly expect to see? And what was the impetus behind creating said fashions? Read on to find out how it all went down on day one.
“[Burning Man] was the entry and inspiration for me to get into fashion. It was, ‘How do I survive this’,” said Zack Vhories, a former software engineer and avid desert dancer who answered his own question by inventing a hydro-pack (like a flashier Camelbak ) and sonic-pack (essentially a vest that plays music). Vhories’s brand, Zackees, was one of 12 labels showing on Tuesday night — the first of a three-night extravaganza launched by former tech business developer Chris Lindland. His company, Betabrand sells “dress pant yoga pants” and a poo emoji-printed shirtdress.
“It was one of those, ‘Why the hell not things’,” Lindland said. “[Electric bike manufacturer] GenZe wanted to do something promotional and I said, ‘Why not fashion week?’”
Held at The Chapel, a music venue in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, the event drew sponsors including custom manufacturer PCH and retail app Shimmer and has been sold out for weeks. “I love fashion,” said one attendee who works for Facebook and was dressed in white jeans and a long sleeved top. “I was just looking at gowns, so Marchesa comes to mind. But I also like Vince and Rebecca Minkoff.”
Tuesday’s night’s theme was “electric motion.” (Wearable tech and crowdfunded fashion are the focuses for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.) This meant that amateur and pro models walked the runway—a raised stage the length of six front row seats—wearing things designed to ameliorate a city commute: biking gloves that light up and signal for turns, a jacket that fits a laptop, and reflective outerwear with rechargeable and programmable glowstick-like trim, easily spotted in traffic. “Why’d I get into fashion? Because it makes me money,” said Harlen Wilkie, whose company, Sovo, invented those electric hoodies. Then he added, “Really it’s about safety.”
His friend, Chris, chimed in, “Fashion can be anything.”
An exec from Tespack, a company specializing in bags and accessories equipped with solar panels that allow you to charge your iThings, flew in from Finland for the occasion. “Energy has to go mobile!” said the particularly enthusiastic rep.
With that, the night’s MC Mustafa Khan, formerly of Facebook and Eric Schmidt’s VC firm and wearing a gold lamé suit, introduced the highlight of the evening: drones with clothes hanging from them. They were followed by performances from a brave aerialist on a bicycle, two BMXers, and a very flexible sword dancer. And they say New York Fashion Week is a circus. 

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