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Brief Published: 20 Feb 2013

NYFW Hackathons: Results


Earlier this month, Stylus highlighted two debut New York Fashion Week Hackathon events, run by fashion/tech forum Decoded Fashion and publishing group Hearst. Independent teams of creatives and technologists competed in intensive 24-hour sessions with the goal of creating a fashion-focused, game-changing digital app. 

Stylus highlights the two winning technology solutions.


The top prize at the Hearst Fashion Hackathon was awarded to Drobe – a platform for creating, sharing and, most importantly, shopping from looks that have been picture-stitched together (where a series of images are pieced together, mosaic style, to create one main image) from e-commerce images, Hearst’s digital archive and/or user-generated images.

Usually when an image is ‘stitched’ it becomes one flattened, composite image, rendering it impossible to click-to-buy from, or reuse. With Drobe, the image remains layered – meaning they are still clickable and re-usable. This allows users to buy single items shown in a look (just the shoes, for instance), while it may well have been the full look that initially enticed them. The project was inspired by the ‘stitching’ facility on mobile imaging platform, Instagram.

As is the nature of a Hackathon, with technologists often working remotely, the winning team only met at the event (they originally connected on the Hearst Fashion Hackathon website). “I presented my idea to a team of developers I had never met,” said Melissa Feudi, the creative mind behind Drobe. Alongside the cash prize of $10,000, Drobe was also offered the chance of a mentorship with the digital arm of the publishing group Hearst Digital Media.


Presented by New York-based publishing house Condé Nast, the winner of the Decoded Fashion Hack was SWATCHit – a business-to-business platform for connecting designers and artisans.

The platform enables designers to source and work with specialist makers from across the world via a directory of images, and text that has been simplified for universal use.

Intended for use with a smartphone as well as desktop, vetted and verified makers can host libraries of work samples searchable with key words such as ‘gold beadwork’. The designer can then upload these images and modify swatch designs based on their requirements. Alongside the cash prize, SWATCHit now also has the opportunity to have the app launched by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).  

Entries at both events had a heavy focus on business-to-business insight tools, as opposed to apps and platforms designed directly for consumer engagement.

How to leverage the masses of data generated from purchasing preferences and existing social media interactions was another key driver for many concepts. As a major hot spot for retailers of all kinds, expect to see investment in this area grow at speed over the next 12 months.