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"As much as we want to think there isn't a boys club, the Silicon Valley still feels very much run by men and there's a difference in expectations," says San Mateo-based image consultant Marina Sarmiento Feehan. "Women who rise to the top tend to be judged more, both by men and other women, and in order to succeed they do have to dress better."
With the nation's highest concentration of high-tech workers, accounting for almost a third of the jobs in the region, demographics show a younger, more affluent population than national averages. Newcomers tend to have the desire and the money to dress well, but they don't always have the time, so the men's fashion industry has responded by streamlining the process.
Erik Schnakenberg, founder and CEO of a new online men's store, Buck Mason, said his company focuses on "guys who want to look great, who are aware of style, and who are not going to spend their days in Bloomingdale's trying to find the newest piece. Tech guys are at the top of that list."
Buck Mason client Peter Dering is a firsthand example. When Dering launched his online startup Peek Design, which innovates and builds camera accessories, he worked marathon hours and had no time to shop. Still, he had both a personal and professional interest in looking sharp as he was raising $1.5 million and trying to hire top talent.
"You've got a lot of folks who think that their style doesn't matter because they sit behind a desk all day, but the fact of the matter is that it does make a difference," said Dering, noting that people who want to be taken seriously should dress appropriately.
Buck Mason sells American-made clothes in packages of matching neutral outfits, enough to dress a software engineer for a week with no fashion faux pas, and targets its advertising online. The Silicon Valley is the company's top region for sales, Schnakenberg said.
Also working to accommodate techies, one of the country's best-performing malls, Westfield Valley Fair, has opened high-end men's stores this year, including Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry and Louis Vuitton. The shops are grouped together with a separate outside entrance so shoppers don't have to fight past teens clogging the food court. And until now, such stores were mostly an hour away in San Francisco. (continued...)
© 2013 Associated Press/AP Online under contract with YellowBrix. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2013-10-21 @ 6:47pm PT
What happens is that those funders are now growing and they see their apparel quite important especially when meeting new clients or looking for new opportunities. This starting companies will become the old breed later on and new generations will impose their vision in a different way.
I guess it is a cycle.