So we understand what fashion technology is, don’t we? It’s where fashion and technology collide spectacularly to create a more efficient and innovative way to shop, market, educate and experience fashion.
Those familiar with the fashion industry will be talking about London Fashion Week, a five-day major event which kicked-off on Friday 14th February. The head of British Fashion Council advised the show would see greater virtual coverage of their catwalk shows and digital product promotions for Chinese editors, buyers and investors who could not be there due to coronavirus.
Last year, Victoria Beckham harnessed the power of social media to engage her followers and create a successful marketing campaign. In total, she shared 43 posts across all channels during London Fashion Week, generating $4.9m in MIV (a unified way to calculate how brand equity is being created) and reaching 4.2 million engagements. Pretty impressive.
Bringing the focus back onto the UK tech scene: Tech Nation recently awarded 10 startups the coveted prize at its annual awards. One of the winners is a company called Sparkbox; a retail and fashion tech startup using machine learning to reduce stock, improve profitability, and prevent over-discounting by optimising retail prices. Even closer to home, ahem, Silicon Fen is Cambridge tech startup Decorte Future Industries who were recently spotted on BBC’s Inside Out (pictured below) due to their soon-to-be patented futuristic exoskeleton design which allows intelligent clothing to be user adaptable at all times, to fit any body shape and style, for adults and youngsters. It has already raised some working capital and is bidding to clinch seed funding of £300k to take the technology from proof of concept to initial prototype (Business Weekly).
Founded by Dr Roeland Decorte, a Cambridge PhD and codebreaking specialist, he says; “Our technology is the next big leap in the evolution of computer platforms and human-machine interaction, transforming the human body itself into a user interface for the ever-expanding digital world.”
Crispin Moller, Operations Manager at Incubyte recently visited Dr Decorte at their base on St Johns Innovation Centre: “It’s amazing meeting people like Roeland. What Decorte are doing really is blue sky thinking and way beyond the typical functions of clothing as we know it today.”
“Having spent some time hearing about his ideas and where he’s taking his business the tech that will eventually be worn is going to be revolutionary. In the same way smart phones have changed the way we live our lives and interact with the world around us, smart connected adaptive clothing will do the same.”
“As a fashion lover and clothing brand founder myself I’ve always been a bit skeptical of tech in fashion, it’s often a bit of a gimmick. Tech included not because it changes what we wear but tech for the sake of it. Yes it can be nice to have a jacket that has heated pockets or can incorporate contactless payment but it’s hardly groundbreaking. Decorte is looking well beyond this and will certainly change how we use and consume fashion.”
We look forward to seeing how Roeland and his team capitalise on the investment and evolve the tech into a commercial venture.
Industry disruptors are always exciting and changes in the way we consume fashion have been at the forefront most conversations about the subject. Fast fashion has, quite rightly, been in the spotlight. The environmental impact fast fashion is having on the planet is finally being scrutinised. I think we are a long way from changing people’s buying habits but the manner in which fashion is being made is changing.
Amazon is investing heavily in machine learning technology that can make clothing to order. Nike and Adidas are doing something similar by focusing on woven fabrics, some made from recycled plastics. Machine woven made-to-order garments are as much of a game changer as the electric car to the automotive world. We’ve some way to go before wide scale adoption but look how quickly we’ve improved on the G-Wiz. As supply chains improve, factories become more connected and less wasteful the opportunity for improvements and changes to the manufacturing process are massive.
By getting to a point where large stock volumes aren’t required means that brands are able to cut back on original order sizes and thus only make what is needed. Producing garments to order is also giving the consumer more opportunity to buy products customised to their specifications and wants offering further individuality. This might ultimately lead to the demise of the end-of-season sale of excess stock but it is a price I think we all will have to pay. Very exciting times in the fashion industry.
Written by Crispin Moller and Lucy Woods
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