Gaining a Voice in the Capital for FashTech

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Gaining a Voice in the Capital for FashTech

Washington DC skyline in watercolor background

On June 15th, the Fashion Innovation Alliance held their inaugural event, a Fashion and Tech showcase, to a packed and stylish room with a view of the US Capitol Dome.

Law On The Runway asked Hilary Jochmans to attend to see first hand the creations of the featured fashtech entrepreneurs and to learn more about the Alliance and the legislation of importance to this community.

The Fashion Innovation Alliance hopes to become a voice of fashion entrepreneurs, particularly in the fashtech space. Their mission is “to bring together fashion and technology leaders around issues of public policy, social values and fashion law to shape the future of fashion.”

Alliance founder, Kenya Wiley, a former Capitol Hill staffer and lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association, called for greater intellectual property protection for fashion tech in her opening remarks. In addition, she urged for more women to get involved in technology, a theme that was emphasized by other speakers, including West Coast Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Suzan Delebene. Both representatives are vocal proponents of the tech sector and of advancing the role of women in the industry.

Also offering remarks was Vikrum Aiyer, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He recognized that DC needs a fashion upgrade and welcomed this new organization to DC. As the principal political and policy advisor to the under secretary of commerce on intellectual property issues, he acknowledged the challenge start-ups face in determining who owns the intellectual property for the components of their invention and for se

curing protection in a timely manner. The USPTO is working on a fast-track application for patents and will continue to work with creators on facilitating design patents.

In addition to the public sector speakers, the private sector and academia were represented by Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, Mark Jamison of Visa, and Professor Susan Scafidi, the founder of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School.

During his remarks, Humphries announced that Visa would be joining the Fashion Innovation Alliance and was effusive in his admiration for the goals of the new organization. Mark Jamison shared a sneak peak at a wearable technology which Visa will unveil at the Olympics in Rio this summer. This invention, a ring, will function as a payment option for those at the games. Wearers will simply tap the sleek black ring in order to authorize a purchase. Professor Susan Scafidi, the creator of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University, and the first professor to teach a fashion law class, closed the program with remarks which emphasized the need for intellectual property protection for designers and as well regulations on privacy and sustainability.

The night was not just speeches. In addition to elegant cocktails and sweet and savory snacks, fashion tech entrepreneurs were present with their innovative creations. Elemoon,, is a stylish bracelet that not only tracks the wearer’s steps and alerts to incoming calls and texts but can also be customized by the wearer to coordinate to an outfit. Teresaflourlamb,, is the brainchild of an artist who created a garment that translates the rhythm of knitting into sound. Birce Ozkan,, another New York-based artist and designer, has created wearable technology pieces that are inspired by nature and react to the wearer’s environment. Her butterfly inspired dress, which flapped its wings in response to external factors, drew the attention of many at the event.

Also present were Manufacture New York, and the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator,, to discuss their missions to cultivate creative, technological and ethical designs in New York.

While this was the first event for the Alliance, the issue of wearable technology is not new in Washington. In March, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing, as part of their disrupter series, on wearable technology. In addition, the Senate Commerce Committee has held hearings on the Internet of Things. As this emerging field gains prominence, there will undoubtedly be a greater focus on Capitol Hill on the associated policy issues including privacy, intellectual property protection and safety standards.

Law On The Runway is excited about this new venture in our nation’s capital and is looking forward to future events. To learn more about the Alliance, visit their website at: and check back to Law On The Runway for more on fashtech!