From the careful way that Apple marketed the Watch as a fashion accessory rather than a gadget, to Ted Baker’s new fully interactive virtual store; you don’t have to look very far to see that fashion and technology are increasingly converging industries. The growth of the online retail space for fashion brands is really only just beginning, with companies set to invest heavily in creating a seamless online and offline experience over the next few years. As two kids with an obvious interest in fashion as well as being unashamed tech nerds, it’s a space we’re watching with big interest. That’s why we were keen to head down to The Escalator, a community-driven workspace for startups and entrepreneurs in East London, to check out trend analysts StrategyEye’s latest event in their futures series; the future of fashion tech.
Featuring keynote speakers from the University of the Arts London, personalised shopping site Lyst, and online fitting solution Virtusize, there was plenty of cutting edge technology on offer to get people thinking. The evening kicked off with a spot of future-gazing as Amy Congdon showcased some interesting and thought-provoking work from the students on UAL’s Material Futures MA course. The work looked predominantly at how technology can shape the future of the garment itself, both in relation to sustainable production and benefits for the wearer. From dresses that alerted people to acid rain fall to newly developed protocells designed to protect the feet of barefoot runners – it offered a completely new take on the very concept of wearable technology.
In addition to the diverse range of keynote speakers, it was the start-up presentations that finished the evening which really had people talking. We were particularly impressed with Snap Fashion, which was showcased by founder and CEO Jenny Griffiths. The app is based around the concept of visual search (as opposed to keyword search) and features a unique algorithm which uses an image to search for similar products based on criteria such as style, colour and texture. The demonstration of the app working in real time was very impressive and caused an audible ripple of excited murmurs from the audience! This app seems to have real potential to solve a problem we’ve all faced at one time or another; finding something we like while browsing a magazine or even walking down the high street and not being able to find anything similar no matter how long you trawl the web. With this app it really could be as simple as snapping a quick picture of the piece you like and having hundreds of results returned to you within half a second or so.
Continuing with the theme of convenience was The Edit, pitched by co-founder Beth Wond as ‘the Tinder of fashion’! Very simply, the app presents the user with a variety of products which you then sort by swiping – left for hate and right for love. We can see this being a great discovery tool for unearthing new pieces – once a few more brands have signed up to make the catalogue of products available a little more diverse; when we gave this one a little test drive ourselves we found the majority of items suggested to us were from New Look or Forever 21.
We found there were several trends which kept popping up throughout the evening; in particular the fusion of online shopping on new, niche social media platforms seemed to be an area of focus, as well as the importance of convenience and usability for the consumer. It’s certainly a space which is gathering a lot of attention, interest and competition; any product that does eventually break through into the mainstream will have worked hard to find a unique angle. All in all the evening was was a fascinating insight into the potential shape of things to come!
Patches & Flash