"I'm addicted to knowing first," says Liz Bacelar, the Brazilian-American founder of fashion-tech crossover agency Decoded Fashion. "We want to be there at the very beginning, at the forefront of whatever innovation is." Bacelar isn't short of confidence or success. For the last three years, her start-up has been running rapidly-growing hackathons in NYC and London that aim to expose the tech world to cutting-edge fashion while simultaneously demystifying tech for designers.
Bacelar's roots lie in journalism: she was a former producer at CBS News and is a contributor to Wired UK. "When you find a story, you can make things happen, you act as a catalyst. That's what Decoded is," she explains. "We use the events to cross–pollinate communities, to act as a spark between fashion and tech."
This Saturday marks Europe's first Decoded fashion hackathon, which will be held in London, with the final summit held on 13 May. The idea is simple: entrepreneurs and tech geeks have 24 hours to create and pitch a truly innovative fashion app to a panel of judges, including industry experts from Google, Net-A-Porter and the British Fashion Council.
Finalists from last year's hackathon in NYC included Get Coveted, a platform that allows you to buy clothes straight from designers on Tumblr. Another was SwatchIt, a real-time web-based service that intends to directly connect emerging designers with overseas producers and manufacturers in countries like India.
Tech and fashion still make uneasy bedfellows – just observe Google's struggle to make Glass more fashionable. But Decoded is trying to be part of the solution – and Bacelar says that the problems that face fashion and tech are extremely simple. It's just that people don' t know how to solve them.
"We want to help people think bigger," Bacelar explains. "We want to see designers and tech start ups making products that are globally accessible. We were the first event in the world that put a tech founder next to a designer, and we want to remove the jargon from tech, to make it more accessible for the fashion world. It's not about being dumber – just clearer.""
London's Decoded Fashion Hackathon will be held at The Innovation Loft, 69-89 Mile End Road, E1 4TT