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Fashion Tech comes in all shapes and sizes

Updated: Oct 6, 2018

It seems every new business seeking funding these days ends in ‘tech’. You might have heard of FinTech (financial services technology), AgTech (agriculture technology) or even SexTech - well you get the idea.

The fashion industry is also embracing technology, with future fabrics and smart garments, devices that make it easier to choose better clothes (a bit like having a personal stylist) and importantly, projects and applications that address the impact the textile industry has on the world - environmentally and socially.

Some or all of these moves will become mainstream in fashion during our lifetime - FashTech is a real thing, and like our clothes, it comes in many shapes and sizes.

“Algae and pineapples, Bananas and enzymes, solar panels and body scanning 3D, blockchain and AI.”

Algae and pineapples, bananas and enzymes, solar panels and body scanning 3D, blockchain and AI. All of these are currently being used in the clothing industry, in clothes, in dyes, in design and in the supply chain.

Not that long ago, technology was my access point into the fashion industry through the development of future fabrics and the integration of circular economy principles across the entire design and manufacturing process.

Technology is critical not just to the development of the fashion industry but also to its survival, and every day we see new examples of innovation and future thinking.

Technology will change the way we make clothes and the way we wear clothes, it will change the way fashion business is conducted, and it will fundamentally change fashion and textile supply chains.

“Want to impress your friends by calling an Uber with your shirt sleeve?”

The push is on across the fashion industry to cash in on emerging opportunities. Big brands are joining forces and coming up with a variety of ways to enter the fashtech space aimed at the consumer.

Google and Levi’s collaboration, Project Jacquard - moves fashion to functionality with the creation of new fibres that incorporate nanotechnology. Thanks to tiny electronics incorporated into the commuter jacket, you can adjust your music, make a call and even get directions via your sleeve.

Want to impress your friends by calling an Uber with your shirt sleeve?

Adidas and Parley for the Oceans joined forces to tackle the global problem of ocean plastics (of the 78 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, 32% leak into the seas) by creating ocean plastic trainers. Adidas is one of many brands using technology to develop ways to reuse their products or waste that reduces environmental impact. Plus it’s smart business - the company sold over 1 million pairs in 2017.

There is an expectation that technology will deliver a multitude of benefits to consumers including usability, fabric innovation, shopping and fitting experience, and I believe it will … but the real impact of technology in fashion will be go unseen by most of us.

Technology is already manufacturing the future textile supply chain. New-tech applications and platforms like Blockchain, RFID and QR codes are granting a new era of transparency and traceability within product stewardship. These IOT (internet of things) connect brands, manufacturers and consumers through a verified story of product history, creating traceability, transparency and trust between all stakeholders.

IOT enabled systems drive efficiency across product journey, delivering access to a vast amount of data for manufacturers and brands. As product end of life stewardship becomes essential to ‘closing the loop’ of supply chains, this data will be relied on to highlight and challenge traditional design methods to enable designers to consider reuse and recycling from the outset.

And in turn for the customer, these technologies open a window into the ethical and environmental sustainability cultures and practices of each brand we purchase from. Why shouldn’t we know where are clothes come from and who made them?

If you are interested in #fashtech, these sectors offer plenty of opportunities now and in the future for new models, businesses and partnerships - fashion design, fashion promotion, sustainable fashion design, fashion retail, fashion media, fashion consumption.  

In Melbourne this week, a local collaboration between IFAB (Independent Fashion Advisory Board) and RMIT university will showcase some of Australia’s leading fashion technology companies. The event will also introduce the RMIT activator that has created a variety of accessible experiences designed for all types of entrepreneurs and innovators.

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