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Startups get new style

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Kyle Geary — The Hale Center For Journalism

Picture this: a man in his late twenties is wearing sneakers, jeans and a hoodie. This doesn’t sound like the typical executive uniform.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is infamous for his casual attire in the workplace and is part of a wave of entrepreneurs who are ditching suits and ties in favor of jeans and T-shirts. Is this style a new de facto dress code or simply an exception to the rule?

Kansas City is a burgeoning entrepreneurial hub with its epicenter in the Startup Village. In a survey of 10 Kansas City Startup Village company websites, 7 executives or founders are pictured in casual dress. The other three were in the more traditional suit and tie.

Adam Arredondo is the co-leader of the Startup Village and is active in the startup community.

“In general, entrepreneurs and startups wear what they feel comfortable wearing,” he said.

He describes the average style as jeans and T-shirts, though that changes when they go to events.

“If you’re dressing up and going to a nice startup event, you dress ‘startup suave.’” He said the only real difference is that “you just throw a blazer over it.”

Arredondo also said that the change in business attire is a generational thing. Decades ago, business was done primarily in suits. Fashion may not be as important now that mobile app development and technology-based jobs are often done in front of a computer monitor.

“What we focus on is productivity and execution and not worry about things that aren’t important,” Arredondo said.

Does this mean that hoodies will eventually replace suit jackets? That is difficult to predict, but CEOs of startups are certainly breaking the stereotypes of boardroom style.

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