As part of our partnership for the kick-off of .FUTUR, taking place in Premiere Vision Show, we interviewed Gilles Lasbordes, Premiere Vision’s General Manager, about the future of the show as well as the future of fashion. For many years already, the Wearable Lab is part of the Show, as an exhibition dedicated to fashion technologies. A place where one could spot Clara Daguin’s fascinating work, meet carefully selected industry related start-ups, and also attend a series of conferences and panel talks on the subject.
The evolution of fashion startups
When asked how he perceives the growing presence of startups and others innovation based companies in his Show those past years, he reminds us the initial approach of the Wearable Lab. It all started after we witnessed how our daily life was evolving and how technologies were blending into it such as the
“Technology is developing fairly quickly and showed up in the fashion professions through what happened in sports and performance products. Connected devices appeared with the pursuit of performance initiated by sport brands and, at the same time, through our everyday connected objects.” He reminded.
“Premiere Vision is like an observation deck, we could foresee all these items gradually coming”, he added, “so, as a platform, we wondered how fashion brands would react when faced with all these changes and how to use technology in the product development process (since Premiere Vision stands as a materials show for people in charge in product development in fashion brands) to offer goods more technological, be it connected devices, wellness products or products with improved performance. In other words, it creates innovation in fashion supply. What we observed through our contacts was that the fashion world was little aware of what was going on. That was the trigger: we are in the right place, we have the right platform. We have to create an event out of this matter; hence it can be introduced to the market. And our ecosystem actors will have the right tools. It will prove useful and they will bring those new technologies in the companies at a scale of implementation. This is the real starting point.”
The first event took place in 2017, showcasing startups with technological ready-to-use solutions that could be integrated at the last steps of development. That was the Wearable touch. In 2018, Premiere Vision wanted to go deeper: fabrics designed for performance, intelligence or other specific properties that could be integrated at the very start in product development were proposed along with the Wearable part. This second step is far more difficult for fashion brands since more skills are required, Mr. Lasbordes tells us. This is about designing garments from fabrics.
“Our aim is to stage this theme and make an event out of it to display the opportunities and how important it is to fashion brands.”
In this B2B (business-to-business) environment, up the industry value chain, Mr. Lasbordes indicates that “startups and smart fabrics especially had met undoubted success because we are a materials show for product development profiles before all rather than innovation managers. Overall, our whole platform received excellent feedback“.
The innovation manager is quite frequent in other industries but remained scarce in fashion not so long ago. Although as of late more and more maisons appointed such profiles.
“All brands have not reached critical mass in order, for uncertain market opportunities, to make such investments or to have a medium-term overview. This is likely to be the main obstacle in product innovation today, unlike retail innovation for instance: figuring out the innovations that will turn into viable market opportunities hence will justify the required investment. Innovation is most likely to be involved in those three segments of fashion: sport, wellness and performance” Mr. Lasbordes explains.
The Premiere Vision Marketplace
Launched in 2018, the Premiere Vision materials marketplace answers to the acceleration of collection rotation in fashion. It started with fabrics, and this year, leather and components will be the finishing touch to Premiere Vision fundamental professions.
“Growing fast in number of products is the immediate objective. 1000 products were available after the launch. It is necessary to go beyond 10, 20 or even 30 thousand to reach a critical threshold to attract buyers. Specific topics such as wearable, fashion tech and materials innovations will be included later because they need explanatory packaging not conceived for now and not scheduled in 2019.” He outlines about the future of the newly launched platform.
Continuity for the Wearable Lab
Undeniably, the Wearable Lab gives extra experience to the entire Show. Nonetheless, ensuring its continuity is vital and visitor feedbacks can gather many leads to make it evolve.
“The objective this year is to make the Lab grow with additional R&D supply, startups, and smart fabrics on top of the existing structure. It is necessary to expand the product portfolio on the international scale to be in sync with our visitors who are very international as well. We are still planning an immersive exhibition. We have always been non-specialized so far, however for this edition, we want to preserve this universal side and at the same time emphasize a particular theme, “augmented self”. The inspirational exhibition and the pitches will stem from that theme. As for talks, we are still working with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, since this is about fashion changes. They were designed to be more practical and educational for buyers in order to guide them in their technology projects. We noticed that innovation could be difficult within companies and that it was important to accompany them. Besides, speakers will have experience in managing such projects.” Mr. Lasbordes tells us.
Promoting young designers
The Wearable Lab may have had a decisive role in the development of young designers brands these past few years. Just like Clara Daguin in early 2018. We wanted to know if this kind of partnership could be more regular and if professional salons could be a new kind of sponsor for young designers in France.
“I’m glad Clara is successful but it is not thanks to us. She owes it to her talent” he tells us. “We have many collaborations with young designers in Première Vision systems. The most obvious is our collaboration with Hyères Festival. Première Vision is the main sponsor and we award the Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision. We also work with Designer Apartment to support young designers. Through the Wearable Lab, we will certainly keep on highlighting young designers. They are the fashion tech spokespersons that lead the innovating and prospective way in search for aesthetics, design, commitments, performance… On the other hand, being a sponsor is not our purpose. Mechanisms exist to fill in that role. We must be just a showcase. The one that will help them enter the professional ecosystem. For fashion tech young designers, our platform is the Wearable Lab.”
The international festival of fashion, photography and fashion accessories in Hyères is trying to play this prospective role. With its talks held by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode for instance. Mr. Lasbordes lists the three objectives of the partnership between Première Vision and The Fédération:
1 – Promoting the city of Paris as one of the fashion capitals
2 – Young designers
3 – Innovation and technology
Première vision assists through the Wearable Lab and the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode through the panel talks at the Hyères Festival.
Digital & Material Innovation
Many agree to say digital is not able to disrupt the grand materials shows for now because it lacks the realistic feelings you have when you hold the material. But let’s assume that such an innovation is within reach, how do you keep the interest and the value of a show such as Première Vision?
“For some trade shows, digital may be a real alternative solution” Mr. Lasbordes explains. “Wholesale platforms (vs ready-to-wear shows) are real competitors emerging on the market. Nonetheless, we chose to build our own marketplace, possibly disruptive. We have built it like an extra event compatible with the show. Even if tomorrow’s technology could replicate not only the material touch but also the material’s behavior (and we are far from it) the human factor remains really important in the fashion industry where collections result from a deep relationship between brands and their suppliers” he continues.
Today, several companies have developed haptic interfaces, imbedded in gloves or other accessories, to simulate the feeling of touch through a virtual reality experience, or screens that can make you feel a fabric. That being said, those technologies are still in the experimentation stage. The Salon has invested in photography and film equipment to widen the catalogue, whose products change constantly.
“Even if textile products could be digitalized with both functional and technical characteristics and felt through a glove (or a tablet) who would pay the price of native digitalization? The glove could be an occasional immersion in a specific experience but there is still some way to go”, he concluded on this topic.
A transiting space
“The Wearable Lab could very well be meant to die out if more players deploy the technology, which could be met in every stand and not just in one specific area. Then, the event would be meaningless since all would share it. In that case, the Wearable Lab is just a transition that doesn’t last”, he concluded.
This is quite similar to the purpose of the Chief Digital Officer, function that has spread lately in the luxury groups and some fashion brands. It is one of those “new” transient professions, whose very purpose is to transfer the understanding of a new world, the NBIC world (Nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science).