On a snowy December evening, a crowd of approximately 100 devastatingly stylish men and women successfully battled the inclement weather to attend the panel discussion of the “Fashinnovation Talks” series, entitled “FASHION Is from Influencer to Entrepreneur.”  Hosted at the SAP Next Gen office in Hudson Yards NYC, the event’s venue was a perfect reminder that as an organization, Fashinnovation exists at the intersection of fashion, technology, and entrepreneurship.  Co-founded by husband and wife Marcelo and Jordana Guimaraes, Fashinnovation is an international multimedia platform that facilitates discussions around technological innovations in the fashion industry.  Importantly, the organization carries out its mission — that “fashion is to love” —by also highlighting issues around women’s empowerment, sustainability, and inclusivity, among others. To that end, the brand featured during the networking portion of the evening was Faculty, a fully sustainable brand that “is designed with the modern urbanite in mind.”

Although Fashinnovation boasts larger conferences in both February and September as part of New York Fashion Week, it also hosts smaller, more intimate panel discussions throughout the year. Invite-only, these events feature a mix of fashion and technology industry C suites, as well as influencers.  According to Fashinnovation, their exclusivity “allows people that join our community to collaborate and network with one another so the industry keeps evolving.”  This month’s panel discussion featured three noteworthy women in fashion and social media: international supermodel and entrepreneur Coco Rocha, social media influencer and entrepreneur Tezza, and Daily Mail Style Director Pandora Amoratis.

Moderated by Amoratis, the panel’s major themes were the intersections of social media and fashion, particularly how social media can empower women in their entrepreneurial endeavors. According to both Tezza and Coco, social media offered them the opportunity to craft their own brands and voices, and to share them directly with fans.  The professional trajectories of both women certainly reflect such an insight. With over 800, 000 subscribers on Instagram, Tezza has made a thriving career from her use of social media. She turned her passion for photography into a brand, By Tezza, and has even authored a book, InstaStyle, which provides advice on how to “elevate your instagram influence.”  As she reflected on the key to her success during the panel, she noted the importance of resiliency, hard work, and most importantly, staying true to herself and her artistic vision.

Coco similarly reflected on how much of an impact social media has had on her career.  Self-described as a “whistle-blower” in the fashion industry, she spoke candidly about the abuses she has both observed and experienced as a model.  She also shared how much resistance she has received from other industry professionals, and how they often warned her to keep quiet or risk jeopardizing her career. However, just as social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter were becoming popular, she recognized in them an unprecedented opportunity for models to exercise their own autonomy and agency in their careers.  They could craft their own voice, which she readily did. Known as the first “digital supermodel,” she encouraged members of the audience to take seriously the power of social media in shaping one’s own narrative. Coco passes this lesson onto the aspiring models that enroll in the Coco Rocha Model Camp, which she started in 2018.

The panel may have ended, but Fashinnovation’s conversations always continue.  The next “Fashinnovation Talks” series will take place on January 14th at BounceX in the World Trade Towers.  The panel, which will discuss technological innovations in brick & mortar, will be in correlation with the National Retail Federation.  Moreover, the 4th NYFW Fashinnovation Summit, a full day conference, will be on February 5th, 2020.

To be a part of the movement, visit fashinnovation.nyc or contact info@fashinnovation.nyc. (Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.)

Keyanah Nurse is the Senior Editor for Honeysuckle Magazine and a PhD candidate in the Department of History at NYU. You can find her musings on love, sex, race, whisky, and makeup on Twitter @KeyanahNurse.