1. Collaborations

It has been a week of brand collaborations in the FashTech world this week. Chromat and Misfit have joined forces to create a collection of strikingly edgy fashtech accessories, designed to respond and adapt to your changing environment, whilst Virgin Galactic has partnered up with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto’s Adidas label Y-3.

The edgy pieces from Chromat and Misfit are all about function as an augmentation and enhancement of the body (whilst still managing to look fiercely fashionable). The star piece is the Misfit Shine, a sleep and activity tracking device, which has been stylishly incorporated into the Chromat Shine Arm Band and the Chromat Shine Arm Cuff. A seamlessly cool and innovative combination.  

This is not Chromat’s first collaboration in the fashtech world, having already partnered up with tech giant Intel, fashion tech favourite Francis Bitoni, architect Juan De Marco, and many more. This alliance with Misfit indicates that start of the movement to normalise wearables, as fashion technology works its way into the mainstream.

With collaborations set to rule 2016, Virgin Galactic and Adidas’s Y-3 partnership is another exciting and ‘out of this world’ alliance to be taking place in the world of fashion technology. Their product? A space flight suit and boots. Tailored for comfort and designed to support a pilot’s natural position, the flight suits have been created using 3D-engineered patterns and advanced heat-resistant, synthetic fabrics, whilst the boots are made of leather with special outsoles and heel inserts to provide extra grip and maximise shock absorption.

The two companies have indicated that the new space suit will be trialled by astronauts during Virgin Galactic’s flight test program, prior to wearing them on the first (as of yet still unscheduled) commercial flight. The space company will also be releasing a limited edition jacket for passengers aboard the first Virgin Galactic spaceflight. Fashionable spacewear; so FashTech.

2. Women in FashTech

Beauty giant, Sephora, has created an accelerator program for female-led beauty start-ups, in which they will put 10 early stage companies through a bootcamp at its San Francisco HQ, providing them with mentorship and giving them a stage to present at a demo day in August.

Connie Conrad, Head of Social Impact at Sephora, said “Even in the beauty industry, where most customers are women, female founders are still underrepresented. We see a unique opportunity to draw from our history of working with entrepreneurs to build a supportive community for early-stage female founders”.

A couple of our favourite successful female-led/-focused fashtech start-ups of the moment are MIRA (@mymirafit) and WiseWear (@WiseWear), both of which design stylish and innovative jewellery for women. Mira products are “designed to help women lead healthier lives” whilst WiseWear describe themselves as a “creator of innovative luxury wearables, finding the perfect balance between style & technology”.

We look forward to opening our doors to hundreds of innovative, fashtech-savvy women at our April Summit! More info here

3. The Social Media ‘Buy Button’ Debate

This week the Washington Post brought up the discussion of ‘Why the social media ‘buy button’ is still there, even though most never use it’.

You may or may not be aware that over the last year or so there has been a new addition to many of our much loved social media platforms, by way of the ‘buy button’. The idea is that you see something that you love on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest and can immediately purchase said product with the click of a button. On Pinterest it’s “buyable pins”, on Instagram it’s “shop now”, etc.

The thought behind this addition is that it gives the retailer another avenue of sales, and one that should be booming considering how much time the average person spends on social media (- an estimated 1 in every 5 minutes on a mobile phone is spent on Facebook or Instagram in the US). However, the stats don’t mirror this assumption. Social channels only accounted for 1.8% of overall online sales this holiday season, according to data from Custora, which is a minute number in the grand scheme of things.  

BUT these buy buttons are still a fairly new addition to the sites and apps, and Pinterest’s head of commerce, Michael Yamartino, believes that the lack of awareness at this stage means that the success of the buy button can only grow as awareness grows. Similarly, not many retailers are employing the button yet and there is only a limited selection of items available to purchase via this method at the moment.

Essentially, in my opinion, the buy button is yet to take off. If it becomes a frequent feature on the Instagram pages of our favourite brands like ASOS and Topshop, it is hard to see how that would fail to increase sales. One click and you have your desired purchase. It’s about impulse buys and instant gratification and there is a huge market for it. It will be even easier and more seamless than online shopping in its traditional sense. This social shopping may not be overly desirable to the retailers, however, due to the sense of relinquishing some of the control they have over the customer’s experience. It’s an interesting point of discussion and time will soon tell whether it’s to be a viable success for both retailer and consumer alike, but as one of our Twitter followers so succinctly wrote: “If you fell in love with something on #socialmedia would you hit a "buy" button? I think I would!”

4. Transformation of the In-Store Retail Experience

Healey Cypher, cofounder and chief executive officer of Oak Labs, is at the forefront of the technological advances currently occurring in in-store retail. Oak Labs, partnered with none other than fashion giant Ralph Lauren, is bringing the new smart fitting room to retail stores near you.

The fitting rooms contain a full-size touch-screen mirror unit that recognises when clothing is brought in to the fitting room via an RFID chip and welcomes consumers with customised content. Shoppers will get three lighting options to try on their clothes, and whatever items they bring inside will automatically be populated on the mirror.

Cypher describes how “it’s a very ROI-based approach. We track all these key metrics. If we make it easier for associates to respond, their response time is quicker. We’re treating the store like a living and breathing piece of software, even though it’s in the physical world.” (Read more here: http://wwd.com/business-news/technology/oak-labs-healey-cypher-smart-fitting-rooms-chosen-10-of-tomorrow-10315161/)

Healey is not the only CEO on the hunt for a more innovative in-store retail experience. The explosion of technology is transforming the way we shop. Retail Tech is growing at speed alongside the Fashion Tech industry and for forward thinking shoppers, it is no longer acceptable for a store to simply stock their shelves with desirable goods. The experience needs to be on par with the innovation and ease of online shopping.  

Rebecca Minkoff and Ebay are two other huge retail brands sold on the concept of smart dressing rooms, whilst Tommy Hilfiger made his 2015 Fall catwalk show available to watch via a virtual reality experience in select stores around the world.  

The times they are a-changing and the fashion and retail worlds need to keep up to speed. Get involved in the FashTech Inaugural April Summit and meet the people to help you do just that.

5. Why does BFC’s Vogue Designer Fashion Fund shortlist exclude wearable fashion?

This week the BFC unveiled their shortlist of 5 names for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. And there isn’t a wearable or sustainable fashion designer to be seen. The five nominees to be displayed in Harrods’ famous windows for the coming fortnight are womenswear designer Emilia Wickstead, sports luxe label Mother of Pearl, architectural brand Osman, minimal aesthetic resort wear label Prism, and luxury shoe brand Sophia Webster.

So why is the there a sizeable fash tech hole in the shortlist? Muchaneta Kapfunde of FashNerd believes that fashion technology is still feared by many conventional fashion houses; when they hear ‘fash tech’ they think of unsightly accessories or clunky jackets that light up. They are uneducated in the more prevalent meaning of present day fashion technology, which represents “consumer friendly designs that are either products consisting of technology or products created using technology, like 3D printing”.  

The lack of diversity in the BFC’s choices shows that there are still many people in the industry who are yet to understand that this is the future of fashion; it is not some passing fad that will be a thing of the past come next season. Whilst a huge conglomerate of the fashion community is forward thinking in this area, many are still sitting behind the curve, holding the progression of their businesses back by not stepping out into the world of modern day fashion technology. This is where we come in - FashTech is there to provide these fashionistas with a chance to see and understand the latest trends and meet the innovators behind them. And hopefully next year the BFC shortlist will include at least one wearable/sustainable fashion designer!


73 Things You Didn’t Know About Derek Zoolander

Derek Zoolander discusses surrogate sweaters, Instagram, fashtech IT girl Karlie Kloss and much more…

Link to video ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4q0K561WXs

And the 74th thing you didn’t know about Derek Zoolander? He’s a HUGE FashTech fan.