On the occasion of Première Vision tradefair’s next edition, the Wearable Lab (a veritable specialized space within the salon) is enriching its offer, with the launch of a whole new space dedicated to fashion startups, an exhibition around the creative process of designer Clara Daguin, and a conferences cycle around innovations transforming the fashion industry.
The intrusion of technology in the fashion universe never stops challenging its codes and practices. In the past few years, the still fuzzy concept of fashiontech appeared. As technology settles in our professional lives, many of us are tempted to add the “tech” particle to the name of our industry (foodtech, autotech, sextech…). But for now, we can’t affirm that new industries are emerging. The reality is indeed made of different industries and cultures trying to come together, while still having trouble understanding each other. It is these connections that we intend to explore through the Wearable Lab space, trying to make sense of it and taking the time to reflect.
What are we talking about when speaking about fashion & innovation?
In order to define this movement, we worked on mapping out the different intersections between the fashion value chain (from creation to after-sales), and the 8 major innovations about to transform our industry: artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, immersive technologies, the development of new materials, additive manufacturing, the internet of things and robotics.
As we can see above, these interactions are numerous. In order to make it clearer, we selected some of the most telling examples of the evolutions brought by these innovations, and decomposed it into three episodes.
Marketing & market analytics: artificial intelligence, Internet of things and big data
First Strategic Domain of Activity (SDA) of the value chain, market analysis is being augmented by the Internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence. Take Amazon Echo Look as an example. The styling assistant device, working on Amazon’s AI “Alexa”, helps you choose your outfit. Through your use of it, the device traces a wide amount of your data to the Amazon teams, who, in turn, will better understand your tastes, and thus create garments that you will want to buy. Because, yes, Amazon does have its own brands, there are 8 of it sold on their website as of today.
Creation: new materials, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and immersive technologies
Creation, key SDA in the value chain, is hoisted to its higher level in the fashion industry. Cradle of the dream, it is its spearhead, and confers it its so fascinating aura. What can innovation bring to such a sacred step? Does it have to be considered as dangerous? Many questions arise around the subject, because indeed, technologies such as artificial intelligence are questioning the creative power of human designers. So, what are the innovations applicable to creation?
Artificial Intelligence & creation: the IBM + Tommy Hilfiger + Fashion Institute of Technology case
Tech firm IBM recently collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger and the Fashion Institute of Technology on a project called “Reimagine Retail”, aiming at exploring how artificial intelligence can identify emerging trends from the fashion market faster than industry insiders, ultimately improving and fueling creative processes.
Through the use of tools like computer vision, natural language understanding and deep learning; the trio tried to uncover how artificial intelligence’s abilities could inject more agility into the Fashion Designer’s job (those tools can also be applied to the distribution field, due to the fact that the gathered insight offer the means to better anticipate demand levels of products, unlocking customization opportunities at a local and hyperlocal scale).
The masterpiece of this collection? A plaid tech jacket, conceived by by FIT senior Grace McCarty and embedded with an innovative color changing thread depending on the wearer’s vocal analysis and social media feed (powered by Watson’s Tone Analyzer tool, which analyses and reacts in near real-time to an individual’s sentiment). The creations also integrate environmentally friendly fibers, resulting in sustainable and highly customizable pieces. Finally, three of the six designs from FIT were showcased during NRF’s Big Show in New York from the 14th to the 16th of January.
The progress made in the development of new materials is driving our imagination forward at a great pace: with materials facilitating the integration of electronics into clothing, or even sustainable materials produced from waste, we can imagine that, in the near future, we will have augmented, durable and functional clothing.
Take the example of Kyorene, the first player to develop, manufacture and sell a range of graphene oxide and wire-blend fibers for a variety of industrial and consumer textile applications. These fibers and yarns incorporate anti-bacterial and anti-odor effects, UV protection, inherent infrared and heat dissipation properties for body temperature regulation, an anti-insect function, and good mechanical stability. resistance to many washes.
Another example is that of the Italian startup Orange Fiber: using orange skins from juice production sites, the startup transforms them into cellulose yarns – which are resembling those of silk – then woven for the luxury market. The startup has recently made a name for itself through a capsule collection for the Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo.
3D printing is a technology that is increasingly being talked about thanks to the impressive opportunities it creates for many industries. In the world of fashion, for example, it allows the creation of innovative structures, like the spectacular creations of the designer Iris van Herpen.
Immersive technologies, including virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), offer new possibilities for creation. For example, Google’s Tilt Brush virtual reality design application lets you immerse yourself in a virtual world for drawing in 3 dimensions. Ultimately, we imagine that these kinds of technologies will be connectable to hardware and software like those of Lectra, and thus fluidize the process of creating fashion.
Prototyping & manufacturing: new materialx, 3D printing, Internet of things, robotics, big data and blockchain
During these key steps in the process, the use of innovations such as 3D printing or robotics can save time but also reduce costs. Sotfwear, for example, offers production line automation solutions, where basic parts – such as t-shirts – can be produced without human intervention. Another example, with the French startup Euveka, winner of the ANDAM Innovation Award last year. The startup tackles the problem of sizing in confection, through a connected dummy that offers an exact reproduction of the desired morphology, with measurement system and detection of bien-aller through sensors. An innovation that dusts off the traditional dummies market, and easily adapts to couture clients’ morphology changes but not only: the dummy is also used in the ready-to-wear segment, where it can update standard sizing.
In addition, the use of technology such as the blockchain (see definition here) could provide a real transparency to the fashion supply chain. Thus, a startup like Verisum offers luxury brands to integrate an NFC chip in its products, to better fight counterfeiting. Thereby registered in the Blockchain, the authenticity of these products is easily verifiable via a mobile application.
Another example is Provenance, which offers brands a platform to tell the story of their products, from fibers to store. The startup has collaborated with young designer Martine Jarlgaard on woolen clothes with Alpaca sourced in the United Kingdom. From the raw fiber, sourced from the British Alpaca Fashion Farm to knitting in the Knister LDN workshop to the Two Rivers Mills spinning mill, the Provenance app was able to follow the journey of these garments to the London studio of the designer.
Finally, Dienpi and its smart label project allow the traceability of products on a simple iPhone application.
Logistics: Internet of things, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain and immersive technologies
Logistics is one of the SDA in the chain most likely to be transformed by innovations: let’s take the example of Amazon. The firm has invested colossal amounts in the development of autonomous robotics, in order to automate all of its warehouses. Founded in 2003, Amazon Robotics happens to be the largest entity in the group in terms of research and development. It was created in order to adapt to the constantly evolving e-commerce demand.
Increasingly used, immersive devices are also transforming logistics. For example, Streye Logistic offers to use Google Glass for better management of storage warehouses.
Communication: new materials, Internet of things, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain and immersive technologies
Communication (in all industries) was one of the first areas to be transformed by the advent of the Internet and later by social media. This is how the digital began to shake up fashion. Today, it is one of the areas where innovation is most expected and observed. This is evidenced by the numerous projects incorporating new technologies that we saw in recent years.
Among the most used, we find immersive technologies and more specifically virtual reality. For example, designers like Tommy Hilfiger tried it out in 2015, allowing visitors to their stores to discover the latest show of the brand. Another example, this time for Diesel’s Only The Brave perfumes, where the brand has developed, in collaboration with Backlight studio, a virtual reality retail experience, where you’re asked to catch a perfume at the edge of a window on the top of a New York skyscraper. An experience so convincing to your brain, that it gives it a very real vertigo feeling!
Other technologies such as artificial intelligence are also widely used, especially through the famous chatbots. Contraction of chat (for instant chat) and robot, they are automated conversational robots. The best known one, Jam, used to be working at through SMS, and now via Messenger (Facebook). It allows students to quickly and easily answer their questions. On the fashion side, there is Hello Alix, a chatbot dedicated to men’s fashion, which helps men easily find the clothes they are looking for.
Retail: 3D printing, Internet of things, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain and immersive technologies
While traditional stores are increasingly suffering from the competition of e-commerce, innovation is often seen as a solution to (re)give consumers the desire to come instore. Allowing an augmented customer experience, new technologies are eagerly observed by retailers, as evidenced by countless articles on the subject that can be found online, or the many “store of the future” concepts launched in the past two years.
Among the most relevant examples is the startup Endeer, which offers women to scan their chest to print in 3D a custom-made frame to insert in their bra, for an optimal fitting.
After sales: Internet of things, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data, and immersive technologies
Finally, after-sales can also be improved by the use of technologies. For example, the Internet of Things, or more precisely the Internet of clothing (with the integration of RFID chips inside the garments to track them) makes it possible to ensure a better transparency and to improve after-sales services. Still prospective, this use is just one example of what can be achieved in the field through the above innovations.
Curious to discover more on the subject? Visit the Wearable Lab space at Première Vision, February 13-15 in Villepinte, Paris. We will also be on site to host a Facebook live video during which we will discuss with exhibiting startups around their latest innovations and their vision of the future of fashion through innovation.