As Intel’s fashion technologist, Sandra Lopez is at the forefront of the company’s growing fashion partnerships.
Since hiring Lopez in January 2014, Intel has positioned itself to be at the forefront of the budding wearable industry, debuting a wearable chip module called the Curie last year as a way to embed clothing with a data server. The chipmaker also built a network of partnerships with fashion brands. At Paris Fashion Week this season, Intel worked with designer Hussein Chalayan for a collection of Curie-enabled accessories that could sense stress. Before that, Intel pulled together partnerships with Chromat, Parsons School of Design, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
For the first time this fall, Intel will join the CFDA for the annual CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Design Challenge, tasking 10 designers to create a collection using the Intel Curie chip. According to Lopez, the goal is to take the challenge and turn it into an Intel “think tank” that will promote new advancements in wearable technology.
We asked Lopez to detail a typical workday as Intel’s fashion lead. This diary has been edited for clarity.
5:45 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Even though I prepared for the day a month, week or day in advance, I am never, ever completely prepared for the day’s surprises. The first 30 minutes are dedicated to mentally and physically preparing: a 15-minute meditation followed by a 15-minute snappy workout.
6:30 a.m.: Wake my daughter up and kiss her goodbye. Scan my email, read the news alerts and check Twitter. Nothing urgent. Phew.
6:45 a.m.: As I drive [to Intel’s offices], I connect with the East Coast and Europe to discuss how programs are moving around and proactively addressing any issues that are ahead of us.
8 a.m.: Let the office marathon of meetings begin. First: take a call from a brand interested in exploring the world of connectedness. It’s all new to them — connected accessories, Intel Curie, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, cognitive learning. Welcome to the digitization of fashion.
I have an Intel wearable that pings me that I’m late for my next meeting. Quick stop to grab coffee and I’m off. I take the stairs up five flights given I will not have time to exercise in the evening — I never do, so I try to get some exercise where I can.
8:30 a.m.: My weekly engineering meeting synch is kicking off and I am running the usual five minutes late. Time to review all current and incoming projects and ensuring we are hitting critical deadlines for this Spring/Summer Fashion Week with brand partners: Tome, Baja East and Chalayan.
Explaining fashion week to engineers is a teachable moment for both sides of the house: technologists and designers. I explain how fashion week is our version of Consumer Electronics Show, yet how we get there is very different. Fashion week is last minute planning, while Consumer Electronics Show planning starts six months in advance.
9 a.m.: Rolling into a meeting with the fashion team. Scroll quickly through my emails and IMs and respond to the urgent communications. Living in the Valley, everyone expects an immediate response. I sit down with the team and begin to review programs. First, we’re super excited about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Challenge. Intel has been wanting to partner with CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund since 2015. The next generation of designers are extremely open to incorporating technology into their design process.
We quickly move on to products that we have to launch to market. We discuss schedules, pricing and road blocks before running out of time.
10 a.m.: Email alerts me that a guest visitor has arrived. I’m running late, wearing 3.5-inch Zanotti shoes, and thinking that running down the stairs isn’t a good thing. Elevator it is, while checking emails, IMs and voicemails.
11 a.m.: More meetings and more meetings — some business, some mentoring.
12:15 p.m.: Need to run to Intel’s video room. They are interviewing me as a “woman in the technology industry.” I look forward to the day when this is no longer a topic.
1:30 p.m.: Bathroom! Food! I need a five-minute break. Running late for my next meeting, a weekly one on one with a direct staff member.
2 p.m.: Weekly staff meeting. We talk head-worn and wrist-worn wearables as well as the Intel Curie.
4 p.m.: Back at my desk. Is my day over yet? No. [Team member] Andrew [Lutjens] comes up to my desk and wants to show me the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund package. Wow — it is beautiful. This is why we need to partner with fashion. They know how to make technology beautiful even with product packaging.
5 p.m.: I have to be up in San Francisco for a business dinner. 101 traffic is at a snail’s pace. Did I even have lunch? No. Deep breath in and out. Time to meditate.
7 p.m.: Arrive at Rich Table, one of my favorite restaurants. I have been looking forward to the dinner, and will be meeting a very smart woman in the VC community to discuss the fusion of fashion and technology.
9 p.m.: I rush home, tuck my daughter to bed and kiss her goodnight.