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4 min read
As technology pushes us forward, industries follow. Included in this mix is fashion. From digital clothing and knitting robots to leak-proof underwear and swimwear, there are all sorts of novel creations being made every single day. It’s no surprise—with innovation at its core, fashion has always been future-driven. Whatever technological advancement exists, it adopts and whatever consumers demand, it provides. We’ve seen this when consumers became even more conscious about what they purchase, shifting to more ethical fashion choices like upcycling and thrifting. We are also seeing more and more consumers veering away from fast fashion and supporting brands that are actively working towards ethical forms of production and those that are doing everything they can to reduce their contribution to global CO2 emissions. From artificial intelligence becoming the designer to virtual fashion, here are five fashion-tech innovations that are shaping the future of fashion.
Enhancing Experiences with AI
With algorithms becoming more powerful by the day, AI has completely changed the way customers shop—and for the better. Brands use artificial intelligence to analyse data, boost sales, and forecast trends. You can see this through customer service technology tools such as chatbots on websites and touchscreens found in-store that offer customised product suggestions. These AI technologies track a customer’s journey and use this data to give them personalised recommendations.
AI is also used in supply chain management to create more productive and efficient warehouse operations and further drive sales. Real-time inventory tracking is a great example of this as it saves brands a lot of time. As AI becomes even more adaptive and versatile, AI is slowly becoming stylists and designers. For retailers, this technology’s advantage comes in its ability to complete looks by creating several outfit choices based on just one product. If there are any out-of-stock items, AI can suggest alternatives. For customers, this AI can be accessed on any device and can easily recommend outfits based on skin tone, eye colour, and body types.
Next Generation Materials
Sustainability isn’t just a trend; it’s the future and it’s here to stay. Several fashion startups are developing materials and substitutes that are cruelty-free and sourced locally. There’s already a mushroom-based leather alternative and lab-grown leather that is made without ever harming animals. Fashion innovators are also looking into turning spider-silk into an accessible fabric source. For the faster recovery of athletes, there’s a bio-ceramic print that combines with a person’s body heat to create far-infrared radiation or FIR which helps in reducing inflammation and improving circulation. These novel fabrics will only continue to dominate the market from here on out, effectively reshaping the clothes we wear.
Over the years, it has become easier and easier to buy stuff online. From shopping on Instagram and Facebook to having a smart wallet available to you everywhere you go, mobile commerce has been slowly but surely creeping up into our daily lives. We’re about to see a future wherein digital wallet options such as Apple Pay and Android Pay are the preferred payment for retail purchases. Social media is also playing a huge part in mobile commerce. Fashion brands have more visibility in these platforms and therefore more opportunities to make a sale by providing customers with a fully integrated digital commerce offering. Fashion marketplace apps that are centred on sustainable fashion like Vinted and Depop are also shaking up the market, effectively replacing traditional avenues such as Gumtree and eBay.
Tech You Can Wear
While wearable tech has been in the market for quite some time now, fashion innovators are now pushing to combine form and function and make wearables more stylish and functional at the same time. Aside from the ever-present smartwatch, there are also smart rings now such as Amazon’s Echo Loop that allows wearers to summon the Alexa assistant on-demand and add tasks to a to-do list or make phone calls. Some smart rings, on the other hand, track the wearer’s activity including heart rate, body temperature, etc. Beyond accessories and jewellery, fashion tech innovation includes app-connected hardware already sewn into clothing. From workout suits that can track your workouts and wellness metrics to phone-charging jackets, the possibilities are endless with wearable tech.
The AV/VR Experience
Combining the world of the physical and the digital, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality enable customers to try on an outfit virtually. This experiential shopping experience gives greater accuracy due to its customised measurement functionality. In terms of e-commerce, AV and VR help increase conversion by first letting online or mobile customers see products in 3D and even try them on virtually. For physical stores, on the other hand, AR in-store can let consumers access digital media and find out what products are in-stock.
AV/VR is also a great tool for marketing as it can create a virtual or augmented experience that can pique customer interest. Brands can try creating interactive catalogs, AR pop-ups, or even make a VR version of their store or boutique. From designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, everyone that participates in the fashion industry is affected by its rapid change, especially in the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that come with it. These fashion-tech developments have and will continue to shape the way we create, consume, and even wear clothes. With the way fashion is advancing thanks to technology, the innovations listed above will only keep evolving, pushing the industry forward and onward.
Written by Katherine Anne Pierce.