Future Of Fashion: TechnologyMay 6, 2021 by- Sizzler Magazine
Future of Fashion: Technology
In a previous article, we brushed on the topic “Future of Fashion”, and saw how the fashion industry is evolving during the post-pandemic situation. The change is visible in every sphere of the industry, be it technology, beauty, or otherwise.
This article is a continuation of that, but this time, we will focus more on the technological advancements and changes we have seen during this period. Consider it as a part of a mini-series of articles, where we will discuss how different sections reacted to the pandemic.
Technology in cosmetics
Biology and dermatology are ever-changing, with scientists discovering new concepts about our body and its cells every day. With that, we are learning about new ingredients that can improve our skin and its texture. Experts feel three technologies are bound to make headway, skin microecology technology, biological fermentation, and cell extraction.
Skin microecology technology focuses on the synthetic creation of products that are beneficial for our skin’s biome. Each of our skin is different, and this technology takes that factor well into account. Biological fermentation is a process where science meets beauty, thus resulting in substances that are best for one’s health and beauty. Cell extraction is a method that can be used to curate products that aim at problematic and sensitive skin types.
According to experts, these three investments will see huge investments in the future. Some companies are already adopting these technologies to launch lines of products that never existed before.
Technology in market research, online sales, and decision-making process
Online purchase is already a big trend all over the world, and the fashion industry is now a part of it. Of course, companies were a bit reluctant at first, but now, they are a huge part of it. The pandemic turned out to be a blessing in disguise for online retailers. Online sales boomed during this period, as offline shops are closed down due to COVID protocols. These websites will use technologies like Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to collect users’ data, and check their behavior, and store this data for later uses. This allows brands to bridge the distance with these customers, and shorten the time of interaction. This ensures an increase in brand loyalty, awareness, and recognition. The data collected can play a crucial role in niche marketing.
Some brands targeted women who are in their menopausal stage (for example, Pause Well-Aging). The technologies to craft the products are mind blowing, rendering the company popular among this age group. This is one niche, similarly, different niches are established according to the data collected during market research. Companies that are successful in leveraging this data are successful in earning traffic, revenues, and profits. If the collected data is used perfectly, it can make a product profitable, and marketable to consumers belonging to different demographics.
Some examples are further given below:
- Merci Handy, a European company launched a line of hand sanitizers, which gained a lot of traction among teenage girls.
- Huron offers budget-friendly solutions to target people who want to stay well-groomed without spending millions.
- Some of the companies used to create products that specifically target skin problems, such as Dermala, and Klarskin, and they have been successful in becoming popular among consumers. Another company that works in this line is Halo Smile that offers teeth whitening products to people with sensitive teeth.
Technologies like Augmented Reality and VR (Virtual Reality) can offer different services if used correctly. AR can allow customers to diagnose their skin’s features and their regular routine to get customized cosmetic products and treatment solutions.
Similarly, these technologies can be used to assist consumers in trying on different products (garments, especially), and choose the best fit for them. People can choose the categories, colors, sizes, and will see the results of their search.
Companies that are using these technologies:
KAO with its skin analyzing technology creates products that help people with managing their skin and considerably improving it in the process.
Unilever, a reputed brand for creating customized skincare solutions. The company uses a technology called SAL (Skin Advisor Lite). Here, people can upload images (selfies) to the app, and then the app will analyze the images to provide results, skin care treatments, along with recommendations.
Sephora allows consumers to try out different makeup products and pick their ideal shades, and people are extremely pleased with it.
Tencent uses 3D technology, Deep Learning (Machine Learning) to assist people in figuring out the right substances for themselves.
Similarly, Alibaba generates a virtual application that can monitor the skin condition of the users and can provide professional, dermatological solutions accordingly.
Technology in fashion weeks
Technology has made things like virtual fashion shows a reality. This saves time, traveling cost, and also, protects the best interests of people involved with these projects. However, these shows are no less grand and have continued to become a playground for new talents to come up.
Automation in fashion designing
This sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s reality. Advanced technologies like AI have changed the game of fashion designing. Google’s Project Muze (backed by Zalando) is a neural network that can identify colors, textures, styles, and parameters essential to facilitate fashion designing. It analyzes the collected data (sourced from Google Fashion Trends, and Zalando itself) to forecast people’s choices when it comes to fashion, and then make designs accordingly. Amazon is also making some headway in this direction. This company created a program that can identify stylish products, and label them accordingly.
However, using AI to create clothing may not always provide desired results, it can backfire too. Project Muze did not always generate wearable clothing, and many considered it as a crude technology. Experts think that there are always chances of improvement, and it was proved right in 2019. DeepVogue became the winner of People’s Choice Award at the International Fashion Design Innovation Competition (China). It created designs from the images, and themes available to the technology. It also recognized keywords typed by people during searches.
Notable brands use this technology in several ways. Let’s have a look:
- Tommy Hilfinger uses IBM’s AI technology (Reimagine Retail) to learn about the latest fashion trends (including the resurfacing ones). It also analyzes what people are thinking about the brand’s products. This data can assist humans to make better-quality products.
- Stitch Fix collects data about the latest trends and produces those designs that were never created or owned by the company before.
AI can identify the preferences of a particular customer, and creates a design, and prompt the candidate to try on those designs, and select the right one. Then the cloth will be created according to measurements, by evolving robots to make the necessary cuts and sews.
In today’s world, people love speed and agility and love fast fashion. Flag bearers of fast fashion like Zara, H&M, and Topshop launched various product lines to cater to the needs of customers, much before other brands did. Due to this, these brands were able to accumulate revenues, despite what market analysts thought. These brands use social media to build their base as a brand in the first place. Instagram’s “See Now, Buy Now” is a big hit. One prime example of excellent social media usage is Fashion Nova, which has accumulated 19M followers on Instagram alone. Boho is another example in this category.
Technology & Sustainability
The fashion industry is not a clean one from the very beginning. For years, people indulged in unsustainable habits (sometimes, without ever knowing). Now, the concept has changed, and people are searching for sustainable products. Now brands are focusing on this trend too, case in point, Girlfriend Collective (a brand that sells recycled polyester-made leggings). Big brands are also promoting these products (H&M decided to use recycled products by 2030). Levi and Adidas are not far behind.
Another notable addition to this trend is the concept of reselling used products over online channels.
AI can be used to analyze if a design is feasible or cost-effective before even beginning the production. This could cut down valuable time, and effort, especially for new brands. They can find manufacturing units online, and partner up with them after agreeing to the points.
Technology has sped up the process of manufacturing, thus assisting companies to bring products to the market almost instantly. Again Tommy Hilfinger is a prime example of this, as it uses technology to produce scalable and sustainable products for cheaper prices and less time.
Streamlined supply chains
Gucci’s Gucci Art Lab is a place that houses processes like prototyping, testing, sampling of leather products, new designs, production of metallic hardware, and product packaging. This gives the company control over the entire procedure (from sourcing to final development), and bringing the supply chain into a close-knit group.
Technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) can be deployed to search for the best suppliers, manufacturers, databases, and manage the supply chains efficiently. Even during natural disasters, a company can keep the supply chain running with proper risk mitigation processes. Examples of such cases are companies like Interos and Resilinc.
3D printing empowers the concept of Print-on-demand, a cost-effective solution to cut down manufacturing costs. Apparel band, Ministry of Supply uses a machine that can produce customized knitwear in a short time. This saves time and the risk of material wastage. Carbon uses this concept to produce 3D-printed soles for brands like Adidas, etc.
Robots and manufacturing
Fashion brands already use robots to stock products, and transport materials between locations. Soft robotics is used to precisely cut, sew, and manufacture garments using malleable and soft material. A case in point is the Sewbots (camera-equipped sewing robots), developed by SoftWear Automation.
For fashion brands, inventory management can be downright stressful. The same thing can be said about tracking materials. But, this problem is solved to quite some extent by RFID (Radion Frequency Identification technology). A tag will be pasted atop a product, which will emit signals that can help with cataloging and tracking.
Therefore, there’s no need for manual logging. Now, many companies use this technology, but Macy’s is the one that uses RFID tags for every product. Zara uses an automated stocking system that’s based on the same technology. Here, these products are logged, thus informing the management about the availability of stocks, and the frequency of updating them. This technology can increase engagement, as seen in Burberry’s example.
Blockchain is meant to disrupt the concept of centralized infrastructure, and it has a lot of potential applications in the supply chains. These products will be provided with a unique ID, which can be traced from the participating terminals. Provenance worked with designer Martine Jarlgaard on a Blockchain project to track all of the raw materials.
Clothing as a service?
Here, comes the concept of clothing rentals, which allows people to try new garments without putting a dent in their wallets. Rent the Runway program allows people to get these items for a fee. Other examples would include, YCloset, and Gwynnie Bee.
Despite the growing trend of eCommerce, physical stores will always be operational. Now, shops don’t believe in the concept of stocking loads of products. Instead, they will store products that appeal to concentrated groups of people. Technology like AR (Augmented Reality), and VR (Virtual Reality) can provide a seamless experience to physical shoppers. Brands like Obsess check digital files, and market products.
TopShop eliminates the necessity of undressing with the help of AR/VR mirrors. And people can see a particular dress in different color options, using Uniqlo’s Magic Mirrors.
Personalized digital stylists
In this field, AI-based chatbots can make a difference by providing correct feedback on different outfit options. Alexa is a pretty good example in this regard. It can provide personalized feedback, thus allowing a person to become his/her icon. These machines can do that using virtual memory, images, and other data.
From the article, it’s apparent that technology will play a crucial role in dictating the way the fashion world should move forward. Technology has opened up the scope of online retail, personalized tests, and more, thus allowing to reach every customers’ doorstep with customized solutions to give them a break from the mundane way of doing things.
Technologies like 3D printing, AR/VR, AI, Machine Learning, NLP have great potential to change the dynamics of the fashion industry forever. We may see the implementation of the latest ideas and technologies shortly. We are pretty excited to see where this is going, seeing that the industry has indeed come a long way. And when it odes, we will provide the latest update. Until then, see you!