It was our third TxT (Tech & Tastemakers) event overall; the second in New York City (London hosted one earlier in the year). Editor-in-chief Dan Peres offered introductory remarks and then handed the mic to Max Lugavere, creator and host of AOL's Acting Disruptive, who acted as MC. What followed was a series of panels touching on fashion and retail, art, auctions, wearables, and the evolving responsibilities of "creative directors" in business.
Panelists included industry insiders with representatives from the fashion world (G-Star, Michael Bastian, MR PORTER, Gilt, Farfetch), the art world (Artsy, Sothebys, Rhizome), and tech (Tumblr, Intel, HP, Foursquare, Spring), among others. Attendees, both stylish and techie, could take in the talks from the conference floor or at one of two luxe lounges outfitted with a mix of couches, tables, and lighting curated by online magazine-marketplace TRNK. Choice quotes from the event appear below.
The crowd at TxT in downtown Manhattan.
From the "Retail Remixed" Panel:
"Is WeChat the next Facebook?" asked Ken Seiff, Managing Partner of Beanstalk Ventures, "meaning could it be as disruptive in ecommerce as Facebook?"
"Mobile is fantastic. But the core of what we do is retail . . . We need less 'e' and more commerce."
—Clement Kwan, U.S. President of Yoox on the importance of staying true to one's goals.
"Our analytics show that the people who read our content, shop more, buy more."
—Dan Rookwood, U.S. Editor of MR PORTER, on how crucial it is to create great articles and photoshoots.
"This industry is not winner takes all. It's about individuality and creativity."
—Jose Neves, Founder/CEO of Farfetch, on the opportunities for multiple e-commerce platforms.
"What we did was create the most frictionless experience [we could]. We wanted to make it as easy as possible by removing as many steps."
—Alan Tisch, co-founder and CEO of Spring, on what makes the Spring app a compelling shopping experience.
From the "Quickfire: Future Fashion" Panel:
"We need new materials."
—Cyril Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans, on how plastic is hurting the environment and what we can do to stop it.
"Today we live in an age of cultural capitalism—part of that culture is the environment. Younger generations give a shit and one of the things they give a shit about is the environment."
—Shubhankar Ray, Global Brand Director of G-Star Raw, on shifting politics.
"We need to be more conscious of the companies that put sustainability first, as consumers we need to be aware of what these companies are doing."
—Tyson Toussant, co-founder of Bionic Yarn, discussing consumer responsibility.
From the "Quickfire: Sotheby's x eBay" Panel:
"We sell a car on mobile every five minutes."
—Gene Cook, GM of Emerging Verticals at eBay, on the high end of eBay's customer base.
Over half of what we sell is between $5,000 and $100,000."
—William Ruprecht, CEO of Sotheby's, dispelling the notion that all Sotheby's auctions are in the $50-100 million range.
"There's a ton of overlap in the price points at which we sell and at which eBay sells."
—William Ruprecht of Sotheby's on the logic behind the eBay/Sotheby's partnership.
From the "Art-Tech" Panel:
Pictured left to right: Alexander Gilkes (Paddle8), Sebastian Cwilich (Artsy), heather Corcoran (Rhizome), Jake Levine (Electric Objects), Julia Kaganskiy (NEW Inc, moderator)
"Contemporary culture is digital culture."
—Heather Corcoran, Executive Director of Rhizome, explaining the shift in modern society.
"The same way that artists want to exhibit in great places, they want to exhibit in great online platforms."
—Sebastian Cwilich, President and COO of Artsy, on the importance of well-developed online exhibition spaces.
"Lowering the barrier to create art and to distribute it [is what excites me.]"
—Jack Levine, Founder of Electric Objects.
"Conversations with engineers were more interesting than those with my art friends."
—Sebastian Cwilich, President and COO of Artsy, describing a colleague's rationale behind leaving the art world for the tech world.
From the "Creative Currency" Panel:
"I think any title with creative in it, it's easy for us to look like dicks."
—Peter Vidani, Creative Director of Tumblr, joking about the public perception of creative directors.
"[Pharrell] doesn't think like that. That would freak him out."
—Mimi Valdes, Creative Director of i am Other, on whether or not Pharrell Williams is cognizant of developing himself as a brand.
"My grand mission is to modernize the idea of membership."
—Jonathan Zweifler, Creative Director of Mobile Products + Services at American Express, on what drives his work.
The TRNK lounge at TxT.
From the "One-on-One: Fashion-Tech" Panel:
"There needs to be a game changer in the middle somewhere."
—Ayse Ildeniz, VP/GM of Business Development and Strategy, Intel's New Devices Group, on finding a sweet spot for wearable technology between multifunction phone and sports/fitness gadgets.
"My feeling and conviction is that we in the technology industry weren't going to do this on our own."
—Ayse Ildeniz on the importance of collaboration.
From the "Quickfire: Making Wearables . . . Wearable" Panel:
"We were really intrigued because no one was approaching this idea of wearables from the designer side."
—Designer Michael Bastian on what drove him to consider wearable tech.
"In terms of features, we were focusing on what not to do."
—Sridhar Solur, General Manager of Wearables at Hewlett Packard, on the rationale behind the design process.
"The dashboard of a car . . . that was the A-HA moment,"
—Michael Bastian on realizing that automotive dashboards exemplify where digital and analog information live together seamlessly.
"It looks like a watch—and that's a big deal."
—Michael Bastian on the upcoming joint-venture watch with Hewlett Packard.
Michael Bastian (left) and attendees snacking on food and drinks in the lobby of the Soho event space.