It's a Silicon Valley stereotype that putting on pants to go to work is considered a fashion statement. Though that assumption is at odds with the plenty of stylish San Franciscans you probably see everyday, perhaps even when you look in the mirror, it's nonetheless what seems to drive Silicon Valley Fashion Week, whose second year celebration was held this past weekend.
Three sold-out evenings (tickets were $20) were sponsored by Betabrand, the wacky online clothing maker with a storefront on Valencia, and Zappos.com, the Amazon-owned e-tailer. Instead of last year's venue, the packed Chapel on Valencia, this year's 3-day "week" was held in the industrial-chic, not-quite-finished ground-floor space at the NEMA apartment building, a high-end development across from Twitter HQ that probably needs no further associations with tech money to cement its reputation.
At the second of the three nights, which I attended, fashionistas milled about with drinks and took in various displays like a life-sized claw machine from Zappos. Mustafa Khan took to the runway to emcee the evening (his attempts to enliven the San Francisco events scene include popular offerings like the morning dance party known as "Daybreaker," and SFist has covered another of his projects in the past), but after a kick-ass dance performance, many of the runway aspects were a letdown. Models strutted designs with LEDs and fur appropriate only for Burning Man or the apocalypse, and then Khan engaged designers in a product-launch format to discuss their work. That interrupted the flow of the evening and led to repetitive hyperbole about "revolutionary" fashion and never-before-seen, just-launched technology.
There were some fashions that stood out: A necklace that doubles as earphones called Tinsel was decidedly cool. But the evening felt geared toward the straight male gaze, with just a few guy models appearing onstage and more male designers than female ones. That sense was clearest when one male designer had two women models in extremely revealing 3D-printed lingerie while his male model donned a workwear-inspired space outfit thing.
Still, the event was mostly a success: The New York Times appeared to take it all seriously, at least as a Bay Area curiosity. Fashions may come and go, but Silicon Valley Fashion Week is likely here to stay.
Previously: Silicon Valley Fashion Week: So Hot Right Now