FTD | Discussions around innovation in fashion intensifies

"Human at the heart of innovation": our report of the 3rd edition of the Fashion Tech Days

11 min read
in brief

Centered around the theme “Human at the heart of innovation”, The Fashion Tech Days 2017 was rich in learnings and discoveries.

The Fashion Tech Days is a B2B event, created and conceived by Annick Jehanne in Roubaix. Launched in 2015, the event happens to be the one where I had my very first panel talk!

For the third edition, Annick and her team did an amazing job, delivering a qualitative event, and as they did since edition 1, brought a visible upgrade in comparison to previous times. With prestigious partners such as the DEFI, Société Générale or brands from the Beaumanoir group, the event presented a selection of 60 start-ups, conferences, panel talks, and the Hackamode.

Centered around the theme “Human at the heart of innovation“, this edition was rich in learnings and discoveries. We visited the event on the first day, and brought you our key learnings.

#Conference « Innovation & Fashion » Clarisse Reille, GM of DEFI

Opening the first day, Clarisse Reille, General Manager of the DEFI (an institution for the promotion of French fashion), presented a keynote analyzing the current state of innovation initiatives within the apparel industry:

With an economic weight of 1200 billions euros on the global scale, she reminded us that fashion remains this year a more profitable sector than technology. However, the entrance of tech giants (Amazon, Google, Apple) on the apparel market remains indisputable and it’s a safe bet to say that this will intensify in 2018, making tech subjects a real strategic stake for fashion houses.

Listening alternately the efforts made by three of the GAFA in this area (for example, the sponsorship of the MET Ball by Apple or Google’s exhibition We Wear Culture), Clarisse Reille also took the opportunity to recall that the fashion industry was not left out either, as the initiatives started by the DEFI in favor of innovative projects underline, the launch at the end of the year in Paris of Miroslava Duma’s Fashion Tech Lab and finally, the La Redoute case, a real case study made in France for its business model which leaves a large space for innovation, guided by proactive consumers, all accelerated by an intelligent use of digital.

« The product is necessary but not sufficient anymore: fashion gets closer to the world of contemporary art » Clarisse Reille, GM at DEFI

Beyond the business aspects, it is in its capacity to be a precursor of society changes that fashion continues to illustrate itself, which is evidenced by the latest trends it continues to inspire (from the emergence of menswear to ecological considerations).

Finally, it is also through the evolution of managerial practices that innovation will be able to take its place in fashion. An adaptation that is more than doable, provided that the industry embraces initiatives favoring transversality and leaving more room for younger generations.

#Panel talk « Fashion & Robotics » How can robotics change fashion? With P. Santora – Softwear, P. de Chanville & D. Mourmant – Tekyn, S. Verin – UPTex

After Clarisse, the first panel talk opened the discussion around robotics applied to fashion. Moderated by A. Jehanne, with S. Verin (UPTex), P. Santora (Softwear Inc.), P. de Chanville and D. Mourmant (Tekyn).

A discussion underlying how much the complete automation of factories has nothing of a science fiction notion. As a proof, numbers of potential applications of automated tasks along the value chain, and initiatives such as Adidas’ Speed Factory and its AM4PAR project.

The speakers also shared a vision of a possible future through a diagram of a vertically integrated fully automated factory producing garments on demand.

Pete Sandora, CCO at Softwear Inc., also took the occasion to present the start-up’s technology enhanced by the use of sensors and cameras for more precision; as well as a diagram of a fully digitalized production chain, which is already a reality for some factories in Asia. They hence are now trying to adapt their operation to it.

« Robots kind of failed the apparel industry, because of materials softness and complexity. » Pete Sandora, CCO, Softwear Inc.

A panel talk closed by a presentation of Softwear Inc., illustrating projects for the year to come. A company that we encourage you to watch!

« UK Fashiontech & perspectives » by Muchaneta Kapfunde aka FASHNERD

To start the afternoon, we had the pleasure to attend a keynote presenting a panorama of the talents of the Fashion Tech space in the UK, by Muchaneta Kapfunde, also known under the name of FashNerd. It included actors at the origins of disruptive initiatives such as Suzanne Lee with BioCouture (who is now Creative Director of Modern Meadow, a start-up growing materials from cells), Brooke Roberts (who was a specialist of radiology at first, and now uses “hacks” industrial looms), founder of the BRIA agency. Other great references complete this list, with Lauren Bowker, founder of the The Unseen or Studio XO, who created spectacular dresses for Lady Gaga and more recently launched a streetwear wearable tech brand, Twentyfour15. For a better understand of the British FashionTech space, Muchaneta Kapfunde took the opportunity to underline its specific approaches, through different examples.


A presentation rich in interesting cases, to be studied asap, that concluded on the presentation of Innovate UK, a government body supporting British FashionTech

#Panel talk « New added value »

As key learnings from this panel, we note a few announcements from Damart, with a future 450 sqm2 concept store (opening in Lille soon) and cross-canal initiatives that will be developed there; but also  the alarming observation on fast fashion by A. Desire (Pimkie), who argued in favor of “smart fashion”, a fashion industry with a responsible dimension, reinforced by innovation.

Presentation of Evo Pricing 

Evo Pricing is an Italo-British company behind an AI technology capable of managing and setting the pricing policy for a brand according to real sales trends. Thanks to such a system, fashion brands can have a more consumer-centered approach, adapting to their buying behaviors in stores, and providing strong insights, that can be difficult to obtain at such a precision rate and agility vs traditional methods.

Although it sure can be super efficient, we remain curious to know what would be the performance of this AI if it were to be used to operate a more intelligent and eco-responsible management of fashion products of a given brand.

« The Symbiotic Economy » Isabelle Delanoy

Based on the symbiosis between human intelligence, the power of natural ecosystems and the technosphere; the symbiotic economy is an economic theory of a radically new kind: an economy capable of having human beings and ecosystems harmoniously coexisting. Including many innovative techniques and research that has emerged in recent years, such as the circular economy, sharing or permaculture and complementary currencies; this holistic approach to the economy aims to push for more efficient and responsible use of resources while redeveloping the productive capacity of a territory.

« Fashion & networks » presented by Maxime Coupez, partner at Fabernovel

Insisting on the freedom of creation as a driving force in fashion and digital development, Maxime Coupez’s keynote has shed light on the evolution of the designer’s role in the digital age while refocusing the priorities of big houses at the time of the rise of the virtual and augmented realities, secondary stakes, according to him, compared to those of the personalization, the automation and the customer experience.

« AI & Fahsion » by Paul Mouginot of Daco

Also noteworthy is the intervention of Paul Mouginot, co-founder of daco.io, offering a clear vision of the subject of artificial intelligence applied to fashion, with a brief overview of current advances in the field, its integration into the creative processes to its many benefits and potentials, especially as a tool in strengthening the link between the brand and its customers.

Fashion Tech Week’s closing event (Paris): Fashion Tech Expo – IFM Paris


In parallel of the Fashion Tech Days, was also the Paris Fashion Tech Week. As at each edition, the association La Fashion Tech, Hall Couture and its agency StudIOTech gathered on October 19th an exhibition bringing together the most promising talents of the community. The opportunity for us to meet young emerging talents such as Marissa Garnier, Fiona Fondadouze (creator of Akene) whose interview you can re-read here, the duo behind the fascinating Intrview brand, Florian Gravier creator of Flaneurz, Justine Vivier and her experiential approach of creation of the garment by cartography and laureate Armine Ohanyan.


This post was written in partnership with DEFI France, as part of its support to innovation and fashion companies.

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