There is no doubt that technology is advancing rapidly as each day passes. The moves being made in technology have always impressed and have stood out in industries such as medicine and sports. However, there is another industry that within the past decade has been slowly embracing the world of technological advances. The fashion industry. The way technology has evolved fashion is an ongoing impressive collaboration that is continuously offering both the world of science and world of fashion wonderfully new contributions.
Although this may surprise some, the relationship between the two is a natural development considering fashion is in itself a lifestyle industry and technology is created to advance and propel people’s way of living. One of the most prominent ways technology is leading the fashion sphere today, especially as of recently, is the way in which the faces and collaborators of major fashion houses to popular retailers are being chosen.
Once upon a time models were plucked out of dozens of faces through a long process of “go-sees” and auditions. Much times a model did not become the face of the industry let alone fashion brand until becoming a bit of an industry veteran. Today, models such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner use technology via social media to land their dream gigs. Model Gigi Hadid said in an interview, “I think social media has been given to our generation to make us a different generation of models.” Hadid has now been the face of two Tommy Hilfiger runway shows and even launched her own collaborative collection with the designer named TOMMYXGIGI. However, not everyone made successful in the fashion industry due to technology is not as welcomed by the public.
When Brooklyn Beckham revealed on his Instagram feed that he would be photographing Burberry’s latest fragrance ad campaign, the internet went mad. Commentators rushed to criticise the fashion house’s choice of the 17-year-old son of David and Victoria Beckham for the shoot, instead of an established industry professional. There were plenty of comments stating that the fashion line’s decision to hire Beckham was insulting to seasoned artists. But Burberry’s leader Christopher Bailey made clear it was Brooklyn’s 5.9 million Instagram followers that wowed them.
Another avenue technology has seeped into the fashion world is through 3D printing.
This new technological advancement has transformed into not only visually stunning products but also a viable production method. How can designers benefit from 3D printing? The method, while is incredibly expensive and sometimes not allowing for complicated designs, does have its virtues. Traditional manufacturers typically require a minimal run on every item, but 3D printers do not. Each piece can be unique and made on-demand. In an industry where marketers talk a lot about the importance of personalization, 3-D printing is seen as a soon-to-be powerful tool. Even Neiman Marcus is experimenting with it.
This year’s Met Gala theme, Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology, was a perfect embodiment of the current state of excitement over both the progress and future of hi-tech fashion. Remember Claire Dane’s light-up Cinderella style dress? OR how about IBM’s Watson and Marchesa dress? IBM’s Watson, which is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data, actually created the design and colors for the dress.
Marchesa first selected five key human emotions it wanted the garment to convey: joy, passion, excitement, encouragement and curiosity. IBM Research input that data into its cognitive color design tool. Then they feed Watson hundreds of images of Marchesa dresses in order to learn the brand’s color palette. Viola, the dress was constructed and implemented with Watson’s collective data. The dress, which had LED lights embedded in it, changed colors in real-time based on emotions. This happened as the public conversations around the Met Gala unfold on social media platforms.
Another impressive tech-fashion infusion isHussein Chalayan’s Floating Dress, see video here.
There was also the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s #TechStyle exhibit.
“#techstyle is a fascinating survey of the current synergy between fashion and science. Many of today’s designers actively seek out collaborations with scientists and engineers to apply new technologies in digital media, sustainability and even biotech to their work. At the same time, scientists and engineers have embraced fashion pushing the boundaries of manufacturing and design. It’s fitting that #techstyle is on view here in Boston, a crucible for technology and research.”
What does this mean for the future of fashion? 3d printing at home. Imagine creating a dress with your exact measurements at home right before your night out. Scientists and designers alike believe the process can be as revolutionary as a sewing machine. In fact, even more incredible because 3d printing has the ability to mould exactly to your measurements and is also environmentally friendly.
Continuing on, wearables are another technology and fashion collaboration.
Analysts from Berg Insight, a market research firm, suggests that shipments of wearable technology will reach $64 million in 2017. This includes products like the Nike+ FuelBand, Google Glass and the iWatch. And Credit Suisse, a financial service company, have a report that suggests that the market could reach $50 billion in 3-5 years. From sporty aesthetic to more luxurious designs, wearables have become a prominent wardrobe piece in people’s day to day lives.
One of the most boundary breaking ways technology is being used in the fashion industry today is by leading designers. Designers like Rebecca Minkoff who are disrupting the industry history of business. At last year’s New York Fashion Week, Minkoff became the first designer to broadcast her runway show in virtual reality. The fashion house introduced a “buy now, wear now” format which showed Spring and Fall collections in their respective seasons. A seemingly logical decision that stirred a bit of a revolution in the fashion industry. As runway fashions are usually not widely available in retail until several months later.
Why was this important for Minkoff to do? Minkoff explains that the consumer was getting frustrated, because they see something they want but become confused. This is because they have to wait so long before it’s available to purchase. Minkoff is also tired of fast fashion retailers creating knock offs of her pieces. Especially because this is before the originals are even available to the public. “Both ends of [the] spectrum—between frustrated consumers and the fact its copied right away, that cycle was definitely not going to be fixed by doing it the old way.”
Lastly, the Omnichannel strategy has been made possible thanks to technology in the fashion industry.
Omnichannel is described as a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience. Whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop, mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store. Brands have realized that creating a seamless experience between their online and offline stores will make customers happier. So retailers are continuously working to make it easier for consumers to order something online, then pick it up in the store. Or vice-versa.
What are your thoughts on technology being a driving force in the fashion industry?