EDWARD LUMLEY joins the fashion technology debate and considers the future of the industry for the pages of our print magazine D’SCENE. For more of Edward’s story continue after the jump:
Technology is transforming the world we live in at an atomic rate. At its simplest form it is providing machines to improve our health, mechanisms to increase productivity and communication platforms that span the globe. No rock in our lives is left unturned – the fashion industry is no exception.
Illustration above by Dom&Ink
Fashion has been adopting the uses of technology for decades. Primarily this adoption has been in the production of clothing items with improvements in technology aiding the manufacturing processes and improving the construction quality of garments. More recently fashion has utilised technology in the consumerism of fashion. Web based portals; social media streams and e-commerce sites; these led to the fashion world being far-reaching and instantaneous on mobile devices.
It is only in recent years the two worlds of fashion and technology have been converging to create a sector of unassailable opportunities and according to latest figures, worth £1.2 trillion. This convergence has seen both fashion and tech thrust into the spotlight with the latest developments being seen in ‘wear-able’ technology.
Alistair Fitch, Co-Founder of Digital Natives, a creative content agency sees the Fashion x Tech developments as of “huge benefit to the modern day consumer.” Fitch echoes the general view that “technology has infiltrated nearly every facet of the fashion industry, from augmenting consumer purchasing power to customer service advisors using tablets and virtual designer runways in store.” A move that Fitch sees as helping “bring consumers closer to products and solidifying the emotional engagement shoppers form with their desired products.”
It doesn’t stop there – the range of services that improve customer experience are ever increasing. For example, Lyst looks to personalise the shopping experience by aggregating products from a variety of online stores to find your desired product at the best price. Olapic, another impressive start-up, utilises user-generated content, such as an individual’s Instagram photos, to market your products.
Illustration above by George Morton
ASAP54 is another product that makes shopping easier. Using advanced image recognition technology, users can photograph an item of clothing, upload it to the app and in seconds it finds similar shoppable items, by matching colour and texture. Forecasting how fashion technology will remain successful, ASAP54 Founder Daniela Cecilio believes that, “the products are available, online and offline, but (at present) there isn’t an easy connection between the user and the product itself.” Further discoveries and experimentation will cement the future of fashion technology.
Fitch considers “technology to be more than just the enabler or delivery mechanism, it is a core part of Digital Natives’ creative process. Creative technology, when combined with quality content, opens up countless possibilities to create innovative customer experiences.”
As technology improves and innovation makes vast inroads into smaller, more versatile products, the topic of fashion and technology grows ever more important. So what is the next big thing? Wearables.
Surgery PR, a London based fashion, luxury, travel and lifestyle communications agency work with Vulpine, a cycle wear apparel brand. They see the merging of cycle wear components and wearability as key to creating a product that is cutting edge. Surgery PR views “understanding technology and its impact on the fashion industry as massively important and is becoming a growing necessity for communications and marketing.”
It is no coincidence that the previous CEO of Burberry’s, Angela Ahrendts, has moved to the technology powerhouse Apple. Big technology brands are already focussing on how they can integrate their technology into physical garments and as such, they are positioning themselves accordingly.
So what are the biggest challenges for Fashion x Technology? Fitch believes to remain successful, “there is a balance to be struck between constantly staying relevant and knowing what is right for your particular brand.”
From a marketing and communications perspective, Surgery PR sees “the increasing number of fashion apps” as a key driver in building “technology into the day-to-day lives of the consumer. Brands are developing their own apps, such as Net-A-Porter and ASOS, and investing into new fashion apps.” A tool “that let’s you review, share and discover fashion in an innovative and exciting new way” is likely to have a big influence on customer engagement.
ASAP54’s Cecilio sees the challenge being that “more fashion people should be leading the way into technology. Technology should be the back end of a product…the way to solve the problem; to enter and go far in the fashion industry, the face should be fashion and the technology side should be as easy as possible.”
Ultimately the Fashion x Technology debate wont be solved over night, it will be born out of collaborative decisions between the two sectors – a trial and error approach. Countless upgrades and analytics will be run to ascertain how consumers will adopt fashion technology and how the technology is needed in daily life. One certainty is that, if undertaken correctly, fashion and technology will impact on our lives hugely.
Let’s just hope we look good wearing it.