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  /  Fashion   /  Innovation Comes In All Shapes & Sizes: Interlacing Fashion and Technology

 

Photo Courtesy: Justine Picardie with Alice Temperly, WWD(1)

Decoded Fashion Summit 2017 held in May assembled ‘the disruptors, the innovators and the visionaries’ who are defining the future of fashion and technology, unfolding insights on hot industry topics.

The summit covered a broad landscape of topics: Driving Engagement & Digital Commerce, Luxury Consumer, The Future of Purchase Power, the AI breakdown, Optimisation in Fashion, and Consumer Centric Retail. The discussions were targeted to broaden the scope of innovation in fashion using technology. The common thread amongst the speakers was heavily focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) use in the industry and advancement of technology in a general sense.

Briefly, a few key takeaways from the event:

  • The discussion highlighted the changing roles of physical brand spaces and calibration of their roles. Doug Gardner (CIO, River Island) added, how retailers have abandoned traditional KPI’s in favour of handling stores as service hubs, which “completely altered the mentality about the brand’s internal culture.” The e-storytelling content was another hot topic, with key players suggesting that brands can create stronger relationships by establishing emotional engagement through tailoring content according to the consumer and their swiftly changing habits. Supporting the talk, Maria McClay (head of industry fashion at Google) pointed out a recent Chanel project in which the luxury retailer created four short films for the launch of the new Gabrielle bag. Each film had a new story and was targeted to a different set of customers.

 

  • The discussion then shifted to the premise of immersive technology, AI was quoted as a radical simplification of our interactions. Hence, there was no conversation avoiding AI and VR, as the territory holds huge potential and the retail sector has just started to explore its prospects. Dr Frauke Neuser, (Associate Director of Olay Global) presented the new ‘Skin Advisor’ platform, which is designed to help their consumers better understand their skin and the right products for it. Built on a deep learning algorithm and a suite of other AI technologies, it identifies skin improvement areas from a photograph, and pinpoints the skin care regimen that fits each one’s specific combination of needs. Following the launch, Olay has noticed a significant rise in their loyal customer base.

 

  • Today 1.77 billion people shop online, of which 40% of all e-commerce transactions are on mobile devices (Twiggle.com)(2). “Mobile is not just another platform to be optimised but the cornerstone of a new era of relationship-led commerce,” said Matthew Woolsey, (MD, Net-a-Porter), in a fashion keynote discussion between Justine Picardie (Editor-in-chief, Harper’s Bazaar) and Alice Temperley (Designer, Temperley London). Alice mentioned that since starting her brand, her use of technology has evolved- having incorporated innovations such as Gerber Technology aids her during her design process. Further, she added,

 

We are using tech now to explain to people in the luxury space what goes into luxury products. The engineering, the craftsmanship to explain craft, which is the most powerful way of getting through to new people.

The Temperley London online platform is definitely growing and accounts for 12% of business from the website, but the presence of flagships is of utmost importance to her as, “It’s really good for people to see and use the product and then feel confident to buy online.” With retail now in total flux, it’s essential that retailers recalibrate their store designs, functions and roles to cater to different consumers pace and needs.

A very riveting but interrogatory summit discussion speculated the future of technology and how its usage in sense making could replace everything we know about. The discussions also swung often towards Generation Z’, despite being social-media-obsessed digital natives, still crave the real human experience of consumption. Will AI and VR-based digital marketing overpower human jobs for better or worse in years to come? Can technology be an aid to all of the human senses and its need to smell, hear, touch, taste and see? This raises a general question whether technology has the potential of replacing the human-centric experiences.

In Digital Marketing Sector, the technology has worked wonders for brands like Olay and River Island to name a few. AI and Machine Learning have helped them evolve and expand while building on their loyal customer base. On the contrary for Retail Sector, reality shows that a human-to-human customer service experience trumps most of the virtual technologies. Any kind of tech advances can’t replace the personal touch of a retail experience or the luxury of an exquisite handmade product. Looking at luxury brands, technology advances have helped them increase their production efficiency and their ability to connect to a wide range of customers. Through digital marketing, they don’t only market their products, but are also able to establish an emotional connection with customers through storytelling which creates a better understanding of a brand’s product offering and history.

The summit covered every facet about intersection and interaction of fashion and technology, while celebrating some advances in the industry. It is veritably important for businesses to display agility and stay grounded to reality, because technology definitely cannot be treated as a single solution irrespective of context. On an ending note stating Fay Cowan,

We as disruptors should constantly be questioning our decisions, assessing their impact on the consumer, because we can only truly innovate if our customer is at the heart of all actions.


Key speakers mentioned above:

Alice Temperley MBE, Designer, Temperley London

Doug Gardner, CIO, River Island

Dr Frauke Neuser, Associate Director of Scientific Communications, Olay Global

Fay Cowan, Brand & Content Director, Decoded Fashion and Beauty

Justine Picardie, Editor-in-chief, Harper’s Bazaar UK

Katie Baron, Head of Retail, Stylus

Maria McClay, Head of Industry Fashion, Google

Matthew Woolsey, MD, Net-a-Porter


References:

  1. WWD (2017). Mobile Tech, Digital Platforms, AI Among Key Topics at Decoded Fashion London Summit. [image] Available at: http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/mobile-technology-digital-platforms-artificial-technology-among-key-topics-decoded-fashion-london-summit-10890073/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017].
  2. Twiggle.com. (2017). About | Twiggle. [online] Available at: http://www.twiggle.com/about [Accessed 13 Jun. 2017].
  3. Cowan, F. (2017). Welcome. In: Decoded London Summit 2017. London: Decoded Fashion, pp.01
  4. London.decodedfashion.com. (2017). Decoded Fashion London Summit 2017. [online] Available at: http://www.london.decodedfashion.com/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2017]

Shreya Srivastava Desai is a student of MAIM 2018 and is currently researching fashion consumerism with a keen interest in fostering value creation within brands and exploring radical innovation opportunities. Please feel free to find out more about Shreya here!