Fashion is no stranger to tech. Since the halcyon days of the dotcom era, labels and retailers have been finding ways to use the tech of the moment to better sell their products. The first ever online fashion transaction was via NetMarket, way back in 1994 (25 years ago!).
In 2019 every retailer worth their salt has some kind of online offering, but with 92% of luxury fashion sales still made in store, rapidly-expanding global markets and an increasing hunger for transparency in the supply chain, fashion faces modern problems that require modern, tech-based solutions.
We don’t have the space to cover them all (and you don’t have enough lunch break left to read that much!) so here are our top 5 Fashion-Tech Solutions for 2019.
Labels and retailers alike are waking up to the fact that the modern luxury shopper wants more than just smiling assistants and clothes on a rail. Even a complementary glass of bubbles doesn’t quite cut it anymore. With 92% of luxury purchases still made in-person, brands and boutiques are turning to tech to improve the shopping experience; with artificial intelligence and augment reality among the most popular options.
Here in London, Tissot offer a virtual try on for their luxury watches, accessible from Selfridges and Harrods’ shop windows. Although this may not be the clincher that gets you to buy that £800 watch you’ve been eyeing up, this kind of interactive program can show real results.
In New York, the Rebecca Minkoff flagship store has capitalised on augmented reality and smart technology in a big way. Their fitting room mirrors are totally interactive, allowing the individual to set different lighting to mimic seasons or locations. If the piece doesn’t quite cut the mustard, a few clicks of the mirror and an assistant will bring a different size or colour. It also up-sells, suggesting items that would complement their current suggestion. The result? A 200% uptick in sales every year since installation…
The consumer is waking up to the elephant in the room. The explosion of fast fashion and erosion of the classic seasons has led to a massive increase globally in both waste and consumption. Last year, fashion search engine Lyst reported a 47% increase in shoppers searching for ethical options, including vegan leather and organic cotton, across their 100m logged searches.
Research also suggests that 83% of millennials in the United States value companies implementing programs to improve the environment and 75% are willing to change consumption habits for more sustainable offerings. If you want to stay relevant with millennials (and beyond) you need to be tackling this issue. So where does tech come in?
There are a few ways the tech world is trying to clean up fashion’s act, from sustainably-sourced materials (Stella McCartney has been pioneering vegan ‘silk’ using new technology coming out of BOLT threads in the US) to using blockchain technology to log the supply process for complete transparency.
Here’s someone doing a stellar job! (sorry)
Another by-product of the seasonless era is inventory. Retailers need more product than ever before, and they need it fast. This means ballooning stocks, excess product that may go to waste and heavy losses. This sounds like another job for fashion-tech!
The primary solutions to these problems (inventory management and excess) can be found within pre-existing tech, just with a new lease of life.
To combat the management issues, brands are increasingly leaning into radio frequency identification technology (RFID tagging). This process places a small, battery-free smart sticker, sometimes built into the garment itself. Being able to track products in this way allows retailers to avoid out-of-stock issues and provides invaluable data for the ordering process.
This RFID method can also be paired with a solution for the problem of excess – blockchain. Not only a tool for consumer transparency, blockchain technology allows manufacturers and retailers the ability to hone and tweak their ordering and output much more precisely than ever before. This cuts down on waste which is great for the environment and the profit margin alike.
4. Wearable Tech
Previously the domain of the nerdy guys on the tube wearing Google Specs, wearable tech is making massive strides this year; becoming more useful and more fashionable. Finally.
It’s not all about motion tracking and fitness, either. For example, the Ralph Lauren uniforms designed especially for the US Winter Olympic and Paralympic teams have an in-built heating system made from electronic printed conductive inks, which was printed in in carbon and silver ink in the interior of the athletes’ jackets. Imagine having one of those ready for those icy winter mornings!
Not today, Norman. Thank you.
Personalisation isn’t new to fashion, after all people have been getting their cuffs monogrammed since the dawn of tailoring and we were all adding our names to our trainers using Nike ID back in the early 00s. In 2019 however, personalisation has taken on a new face – it’s not just the products that are personalised, but the entire shopping process.
Imagine walking into a store and everything there was hand-picked for you: your size, your colours, your fits. This is where online fashion retailers can really shine. Using artificial intelligence, retailers are predicting your needs before you even know that you have needs. It’s like having your own personal shopper, with a basket of prepped possibilities, ready for you every single time you log onto their site.
You will have seen flashes of this from retail giants ASOS – currently working to expand their personalisation capabilities, but startups dedicated to ecommerce AI are springing up daily; so your algorithmic style assistant is just around the corner…
Tech is great, but what really makes a business tick are the people. That’s where we come in! If you’re looking to expand your team or just want to chat about the possibilities of a new colleague, get in touch any time.
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