Mario Testino Fashion Hackathon at Pear VC

Photo by The Fashion Robot

Photo by The Fashion Robot

What is a Fashion Hackathon?

Fashion and Hackathon are rarely used in the same sentence.  A number of definitions could be extrapolated from the combination of these two words.  Curiosity got me to sign up for one.

It was hosted at Pear VC in Palo Alto, September 24-25, and attracted an incredibly multidisciplinary group ranging from Stanford Computer Vision start-up founders to Fashion Models.

What was the theme of this Hackathon?

This particular event was hosted by Mario Testino and his team.  For those of you who don’t know, Mario has photographed an innumerous amount of Vogue covers and advertisements for all of the high-end luxury fashion brands and top celebrities.  Needless to say, he is an icon in the fashion industry.  Through this lens, the hackathon was about bringing together Fashion Photography and Technology specifically.

The goal was to create tools for the future of the photography industry.

Ideation and Conceptualization

Each team was able to talk to Mario’s team, which was comprised of his CEO, creative, and marketing.  We were able to ask questions about the kinds of challenges they have and hash through ideas with them before engaging on any single idea.


There were a number of pitches ranging from interactive virtual reality platforms, computer vision algorithms for search, SMS texting, the same concept as Imoji, gifs, and others…

Key Takeaways

  • Mario said something during his introduction to the group that struck me.  Several years ago he did a shoot for Vogue where he traveled to Facebook, Google, and other tech leaders.  He said he was surprised because he thought Silicon Valley was this exciting wonderland.  Yet when he arrived he realized Silicon Valley does not exist in the physical world, it was all in a world on the computer.
  • Some of the people in the room were there to continue working on things they were already working on and learn something new about how it could be applied to other industries.  These were not the teams who won the competition, but they probably learned something about their specific domain.  In the long term, this kind of low-risk experiment can have a higher value than winning.
  • Connecting new fields and people who wouldn’t usually go to a hackathon.  For others, it was their first hackathon.  It gave them exposure to new ways of thinking, problem-solving, and making.
  • The team I worked with was incredibly multidisciplinary and it was pleasant to work on a team where each individual had a completely different background and skill set.  Everyone had their role and did their part.  Each individual had nothing but respect and joy for working with the team.  We found it easy to play to each other’s strengths.
  • Overall it was a great way to meet new people with overlapping passions and completely different expertises.

A Photo Journey Through the Process

Define the Problem, Brainstorm Solutions, Ideate:

Document, collaborate, and plan


Everyone gets involved to execute an ambitious challenge: to demo and pitch an idea within 36 hours.

Add content

Create a Pitch Deck:

Branding the idea


Here’s our team “MODA+” after pitching to Mario Testino and his agency.