Eddie Mullon, Founder and CEO of Fashion GPS, has quite simply revolutionized the way New York Fashion Week is run. Lengthy check in lines that were once de rigueur at the Fashion Week tents have been replaced with electronic kiosks, which attendees can use to quickly scan a barcode on a printed invitation or their phone to receive a seating assignment. And Fashion Week is just a small component of Mullon’s master plan to make the fashion industry more efficient. Since founding Fashion GPS in 2006 he has worked with PR agencies like KCD Worldwide and designers like Marc Jacobs to update the way they traffic samples, distribute look books and track sales. And he’s just getting started.
The Innovators: Founder and CEO of Fashion GPS Eddie Mullon
By Leah Bourne
Published at 8:50 AM EDT on Aug 18, 2011 | Updated at 8:59 AM EDT on Aug 18, 2011
We talked with Mullon about what it took for Fashion GPS to get off the ground, how he is revolutionizing the fashion industry and what is next.
Was there a tipping point for Fashion GPS?
Our success was kind of gradual. I was working with [PR firm] KCD from the beginning, and then I began working with a lot of other PR agencies like Bismarck Phillips and fashion brands like Donna Karan. Once we started working with IMG and Fashion Week [starting in 2010] that was really the tipping point. But Fashion GPS really serves fashion brands on a deeper level than just fashion week.
What’s Fashion GPS' role in Fashion Week?
In previous years there had been this press list, which prior to us, you entered your details and it went to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and then they’d distribute it to all the of brands for media access to the shows. Then they would either print out a big fat book and send it out, or they’d send an Excel file. Just this crazy amount of paper and data entry was involved.
We figured out how to integrate all of the steps. What happens now is that you register for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and you’re approved, that automatically is pushed to all of our clients who send out invitations, our system accounts for RSVPs and seating assignments. The whole process has been streamlined.
What is Fashion Week like for you?
It was definitely tough at first. There were a lot of things that we had to understand. It's all been worth it to see the smiles on editors and buyers faces when they are able to scan for their seat using their invitations. The more adventurous people whip out their phones to scan, which is always fun to see.
What are some other ways Fashion GPS has changed the industry?
There really is very little standardization. It’s frustrating that brands tend to use made up colors so we have worked to standardize colors and attach IDs to colors so people know what red they are getting, for instance.
Once you sign on to Fashion GPS our system provides a complete and instant record of where a sample has been. In the past it could have taken hours to figure out where a sample was. So it's really helped PR agencies in that way, particularly when they are working internationally, to be able to traffic samples in real time.
Now that you’ve worked closely with a lot of brands -- why do you think fashion has been so slow to adapt to technology and do you see a shift happening?
There is definitely a new generation that is coming in. This generation considers computers to be the most natural thing. I have two children and they know how to use iPhones and iPads inside out, it’s completely fluid to them. The new generation, the interns, this is all second nature to them.
Has fashion been a surprise career for you? You started your career as a web design consultant.
I have always been in technology, but my sister is a fashion designer. I really got into fashion because I was working with KCD on a project, which really started me on a mission of, “What can I do to make this industry more efficient, what can I do to help the PR process with tracking samples, look books?”
What’s drawn me into fashion is that this is an industry in transition as it adopts to technology. This system is challenging what it’s used to. Once our clients use our product though, and see what it can do, their feelings about technology tend to change.
How has Fashion GPS grown in the last year and what’s next?
We have added 23 clients in recent months -- brands, PR agencies. The number of shows we are working on has increased this season. Once the New York shows are over there are shows in London, Milan, Paris.
We are launching something called Radar that is really about listening to editors and buyers and coordinating their information. We have done a lot of stuff on the brand side and are now working on a piece of technology that will make the editors and buyers side more efficient. We are also going deeper into inventory management working with retailers.