Is CES a fashion week for geeks?
From red carpet receptions and celebrity appearances to bedazzled gadgets and trend-setting uncovering’s, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) have much more in common than one would think. Is it because both are full of individuals who are passionate about what they do? Or is it because glamour sells well? I have been blessed to attend CES 2014 as a celebrity guest and witness MBFW as a correspondent. Here are 5 things that prove that tech geeks and fashionistas have much more in common than one would think.
1. The beginning and the end of the road.
Let's take a look at the physical set up. CES has several facilities - from central floor of LVCC (Las Vegas Convention Center) for companies with names and money to Eureka park for startups. The idea of being rich and famous one day felt really appealing when in a course of one night I attended start-up night out (hosted in a tiny bar somewhere off the Vegas strip, where they served deep fried food and had drink tickets) and MediaLink Kickoff event (hosted in a gorgeous hotel that had sushi, chefs cooking in front of you, and an open bar).
Similarly, during the MBFW, there is the actual NY fashion week itself, which is located at the Lincoln Center, but there are also lower scale fashion events - from Couture Fashion Week to Latino Fashion Week and just random nightclub shows that happen during the fashion week. Similar to CES, parties at fashion week are segregated.
Humor aside, this segregation might be hurting both industries more than we think. At both shows, the big press will end up creating a buzz about the well-established companies, whereas the hidden gems will end up hidden on the periphery of the shows. No wonder the press have been complaining that they haven’t seen anything conceptually new at those shows for years. But let’s get back to parties. As much as it could be fun to party with your buddies at an even that is open to all, everyone is dreaming to get a ticket to the VIP party, and there, who knows, you might run into future investor! Want your 5 minutes with rich and famous? Gotta be friends with a famous person then, they will get you red carpet access :)
2. The actual cool people.
What is shining brighter then a glittery phone case or a dress by a certain designer? It is your celebrity friends – athletes, movie stars, producers, TV personalities and other cool kids from the block. It will not hurt any fashion brand to see a celebrity at their show. A decent show at MBFW is usually featuring a stylish celebrity in the front row. This way famous people become brand ambassadors and, although they are not doing anything special, their presence positively reflects on your sales. At CES 2014, 50 Cent attracted an enormous crowd at the SMS audio booth. I mean, who even knew anything about SMS audio before 50 Cent? Reporters, other attendees, and even other celebrities - all were there for his autograph. The crowd was so big, that the organizers wouldn't even allow personalization or photography! Obviously, the signed photograph had the SMS audio logo on it. Getting a celebrity to come to your show/booth is not trivial, but just remember, they are attracted to VIP treatment and free things. In the end, the investment might be quite worthwhile!
3. Pretentious people.
How can I not discuss the crowd? Ok, I only started from facilities and celebrities, because I wanted to be nice, but lets face it, you, the higher-ups on both sides - technology or fashion - can sometimes be quite pretentious, stuck-up, and arrogant. I am saying this with a smile, but you, people, are the worst. Have you ever been given "a stare" from a better-looking person in a public place? The fashion world is blamed for looking skin-deep, but that's exactly how people with engineering degrees look at the models at CES. During the 4 days that I have been at my booth, I’ve heard nasty: “There's no such competition ‘Miss East Coast’” from respectfully looking men in suits... "Listen, how do you know? Are you an expert in pageants?" - I would think to myself, but, obviously, would nicely explain that both Capti Narrator (the start-up I was with) and I are freedom fighters. Capti narrator is fighting for the freedom from the screen, and I am fighting for freedom from stereotypes about smart, beautiful, and ambitious woman.
4. Shallow people.
You guys are my favorites. Freelance bloggers, smart pants and other who wanted to be at CES or MBFW, but couldn't make it... About 1-2 weeks before the show, angry and envious posts flood Internet. Without doing any research, they write something ignorant about companies, products, and celebrities on their blogs for other shallow people just like them. It's ok that you haven't been recognized at any event, you can still judge all of us who made it there! So those of you who made some superficial comments about “booth babes”, celebrity appearances, and my appearance in particular, don't worry, I cried about it while I was sharing red carpet with Lil Jon, Amy Shumer, Olivia Munn...yeah, right, I cried...
5. Where future meets the present.
Now, that we enjoyed a healthy doze of sarcasm and making fun of both worlds, let's get serious. Besides the superficial attributes, there's one substantive similarity - both events showcase innovation. In the beginning of 2000's, the buzz at CES was about wireless tech, four years ago, it was about smartphones, at CES’14, the buzz was about wearable technology for athletes, people who want to stay in shape, disabled people, and so on. In general, CES’14 had a whole new focus - relieving the stress of the everyday routine and making people healthier. Fashion changes at about the same speed as technology. In the recent past, fashion became focused on giving people an opportunity to express themselves, while being comfortable with who they are.
What we should learn from this comparison between MBFW and CES is that we are not that different from each other. Who would think that fashionistas and geeks are so similar? But even in their flaws (in reference to my comments about all the mean people), they are so alike. Geeks and fashionistas, we are not that different. We all need an opportunity to follow our passion in our chosen fields and be recognized for them. As leaders in our fields, we all want to be helpful to those around us, by either making them more comfortable, confident, or just entertaining people or making them smile. All of you worked hard to be where you are in your life and you deserve respect for your accomplishments in the chosen field. What I would like to wish the folks on both sides is that you should try to be open to ideas outside of your comfort zone and maybe that will make your job easier and more rewarding.