Ending a biomedical, venture capitalist and entrepreneur career left me puzzled why the fashion world didn't value clothing that looked great and let a woman’s competence shine.
Fashion seemed to be a kind of evil, definitely not to be discussed in the tech and business world. I’ve been having trouble putting words to this until I went to a Commonwealth program recently where Kim Polese was being interviewed. Kim, most notably was the founding product manager for JAVA when it launched in 1995 and then CEO of the successful tech company Marimba. Kim spoke how members of the press ignored the technical progress of her company and focused on personal appearance stories. “Talking about appearance takes away from what [women] are accomplishing,” she said. The moderator followed with, “we’re not going to go THERE tonight.”
I felt the same way back then. There was no middle ground. I was left on my own to figure out how to dress, where to shop, what to buy. Today we have the internet with tons of advise, but most of it without a foundation of purpose. Certainly few designers targeted the professional or working woman. "Lifestyle" is the driving purpose of fashion.
Last fall, Vanessa Friedman wrote, “Women Fashion Power,” in the NYT while covering the London Design Museum exhibit. Reading the Style Editor for the NYT acknowledging that what women wear matters and “is an embodiment of their voice” one might think there could be hope.
But who is listening? And who will respond? Recently, I heard another editor comment “we only let a few [designers] in” referring to that exclusive club of top level designers. Do these designers know what it is like in the tech and science worlds? Do they think about what women need to wear to be effective?
Who's going to tell the women in tech?
With a majority of women in the workplace, it is astonishing that there is no acceptable channel to address her needs for fashion.