Fashion & Technology: Together, at last?

I am passionate about both technology and fashion, and there is more of an intersection than one would think.  I attended a fashion show at Fashion Central (downtown Calgary) this week themed “Giddy-Up! Stampede Style”, in preparation for our world famous Calgary Stampede which takes place every July.  In celebration, it is tradition for all of Calgary’s citizens to don some type of Western wear – everyday – for two weeks.  Calgary is a modern oil and gas town, with a strong corporate culture, and formal business office attire – some variation of the suit – is de rigueur for the majority of the work force.  Except during the Calgary Stampede and “Casual Friday’s”. 

“Casual Friday “or “Dress-down Friday” is a work place trend that gained considerable momentum in the late nineties, sparked by the casual California business culture born from the Dot Com era.  It seems as though Silicon Valley’s relaxed approach to fashion came from the counterculture that evolved around the tech industry.  The entrepreneurial mind set of the day influenced the modernity of these new work environments – with a revitalized fashion sense.  Steve Jobs set the pace with his signature look: black turtle neck, jeans and sneakers. 

It wasn’t too long before the corporate work place began adopting less rigorous dress codes, but only on Fridays.  I recall, earlier on with the rise of this trend, some of Calgary’s corporate offices granted permission to dress down on Friday’s if you made a donation to a charitable cause. Pay $1, wear jeans!  I am not sure if this is what Steve Jobs intended, but the very fact that companies started to respond to the changing attitudes about careers and the workplace can only be viewed as a good thing.

We are moving into an anywhere economy.  Leading technologies are re-defining the traditional office environment and the virtual office is gaining momentum.  As long as you have a mobile device, a lap top computer, Netbook or iPad, and a Wi-Fi connection, you can work just about anywhere.   Notwithstanding, of course, are offices embracing creative spaces and fostering more productive work environments.   And we most certainly have not seen the end of the corporate office era!

But does this mean that you can just wear anything, because you are working in a coffee shop, park, urban loft, or with a company who has adopted a “Casual Friday” dress code?  Fashion is expression, it is identity.  How you define yourself, regardless of social labels, ultimately comes down to how you want the world to see you, because it is how you see yourself.  Society is progressing; but this new wave of “work attire” I will admit can be confusing for some.  Polyvore is a website worth checking out if you are one of the confused, or just the opposite a real fashionista!  Polyvore provides a fashion and social platform that is redefining the experience of shopping online.  Their virtual styling tool will help you create a look, give you style tips and allow you to share your fashion insights, questions and ensembles with a community of like-minded style seekers.

A colleague of mine recently told me about a new fashion trend that is emerging in the tech industry: “Handsome Thursday”.  Started by Ryan Lejbak of Zu, an interactive technology company based in Saskatoon, SK, “Handsome Thursday” is a movement whereby every second Thursday of the month you are encouraged to dress up, put on a suit and take it up a notch!

It would appear as though a community of well dressed techies are aiming to take back the work dress code we have long been accused of rebelling against!