FashTech Digest

by Georgia Buchanan



1. Social Media and Celebrity Endorsements in Fashion

Francis Bitonti said in an interview with Electric Runway this week that he isn’t necessarily a fan of the term ‘fashion tech’ because he thinks everything is fashion tech. For him, fashion is technology. We are obviously big fans of the term fashion tech (or FashTech to be specific...), but we do agree with Mr Bitonti that technology is always present and prevalent across the fashion world, whether this is in the way the clothes are made or the way that they are marketed. In today’s society, social networking platforms and apps play a HUGE role in the marketing and advertising of fashion products. The biggest brands know this and are exploiting this avenue in continually exciting and original ways. One method, that is virtually undeniable in its effect, is through celebrity endorsements. If you’ve got the biggest stars in the world involved in your campaign or merely Instagramming or Tweeting your product, it’s going to sell. Big time. And this week we’ve seen two different, but classic, examples of this. Rihanna, arguably the biggest pop star on the planet (queue outrage from Queen Bey fans...!), posted a picture of her in Dolce & Gabbana Swarovski encrusted headphones this week, captioned “listening to ANTI” (the long awaited 8th studio album soon to be released). Despite the headphones costing a whopping $9,000 (no big deal, right?), they flew off the virtual shelf so quickly that the product was completely sold out in less than 24 hours of the picture being uploaded. And RiRi wasn’t even explicitly advertising the headphones! Over the course of one day and night, one Instagram picture managed to generate more sales than D&G could have hoped for via any other means of advertisement. Calvin Klein, one of the biggest, most recognisable brands in the world, has employed celebrities in its ad campaigns for years, and its new SS16 campaign is no different. Shot by Tyrone Lebon, it might be the season’s most star-studded one yet, with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, FKA Twigs, Kendall Jenner, Fetty Wap, and more. Each image of said stars has the tag “I ______ in #mycalvins”, with the blank filled in accordingly, from the likes of “dream” to “flaunt” (Biebs of course), and “excel” to “want to be with you” (Kendall). The hashtag means that the traffic from the campaign is all directed to one spot, enabling the public to easily access their stars’ images, whilst also enabling the brand to quantify just how big an impact the movement is having. Nowadays, if you want your brand or product to have a widespread effect, you have got to utilise social media incessantly. And if you can get a celebrity on board? All the better... (Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s digest in which we’ll be revealing FashTech’s very own big name collaborations for the April Summit).

2. Empowering Women in the Tech Industry: Computer Science and Coding

The world of computer science is drastically male-dominated. Fact. Just 18% of computer science undergraduate degrees were awarded to women in 2014. “There will be 1.4 million jobs in computer science by 2020 - and women are currently on pace to hold just 3% of them” Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code. But how do we start to balance this gender inequality? 

Females, are discouraged by our culture-norms to venture into the world of computer sciences and coding, through a serious lack of resources and education. As a society we make it more acceptable for boys to like or excel in maths and science than for girls. We subconsciously (or consciously perhaps, depending on the perpetrator) ingrain it into young girls heads not to see themselves in tech professions, so that by the time we reach a point in which we start to consider a career path, coding et al. isn’t even on our radar. Saujani encourages men and women to empower young girls around them, using the example of when an appliance in your house breaks, take it to your daughter to help you fix it, not just your son. It has to start somewhere, and the younger the better! We need to instil a sense of belief in young women that they are just as capable and wanted as boys in the currently male world of computer science. Coding specifically, in Saujani’s eyes, is “the ultimate 21st century skill set that every young girl has to learn”. There are some brilliant organisations and role models out there at the moment raising awareness of girl coding, from obvious campaign frontrunners girlswhocode.com and BlackGirlsCode.com, to the potentially more surprising Victoria’s Secret supermodel Karlie Kloss (“because God forbid a gorgeous model could be into coding eh!”) who is set on making coding cool. (Be sure to check out her tech takeover of Elle UK magazine in March). It’s a long road ahead though. Steps are being taken and people are speaking up, but it’s going to take a lot more than “pinkifying” the topic (this has actually been a literal attempt at opening up coding to girls...). Fortunately, there are a huge number of female founders emerging in the tech world at the moment, and we can only hope that these thought-leaders will help to start to break down the stereotypes in the younger generations. Are you a female founded tech startup wanting to carve your way in the industry and get the chance to meet FashTech leaders? Our inaugural April Summit is not to be missed! PS - No discrimination here... We want all you innovative blokes too!

Read more here and get your tickets here  

3. The New World Order: Business of Fashion looks towards the future of fashion

Business of Fashion has just unveiled its latest special print issue, focusing on the “broken” fashion system and the “disruptors” aiming to fix it. This term, “disruptors”, is one that we love at FashTech. We describe our Startup Showcases as being a forum in which we can help to support and promote any brilliant original ideas for disrupting the fashion and retail worlds, because, like BoF, we believe that that is what the industry needs.

BoF acknowledges fashion’s rocky 2015 (“what with the sudden departure of prominent designers and a fashion system seemingly at breaking point”), and the desperate need for a period of innovation in 2016. They forecast the unyielding growth of digital marketing by fashion brands, but not necessarily how you would expect. Social media has changed the face of the fashion world in previously unimaginable ways and the designers are having to adapt accordingly. Many are now working towards consumer-facing exhibitions and consumer- focused fashion events. The climate is changing and those who don’t acknowledge it are likely to get left behind. But this isn’t the extent of the “disruption” BoF is talking about. A platitude of change is coming... Cue fash tech and the new emerging technologies! 3D digital printing and virtual reality are amongst the favourites, but the list of legitimate disruptive contenders goes on. You need only visit a #FashTech Summit to see them with your own eyes. The potential effects of these newcomers in the fashion industry are massive. Disruption is inevitable, and we are at the forefront of it. Join us... www.fashtech-summit.com

4. How the Fashion Week Format is Changing

So I’ve touched on the topic of consumer-facing exhibitions and consumer-focused fashion events above, and we are already starting to see glimpses of this and hear concrete plans for more in the first month of the year. It is now an undeniable fact that most designers have to keep Instagram in the forefront of their mind whilst conceptualising their shows. There is now such a desperate desire in front row guests to snap the perfect Instagram shot or video that an etiquette dilemma of sorts has arisen, with them being more concerned with looking at the collection through their phone screens that they don’t actually get immersed in the moment and focus on the clothes in their realness. It also means those in less desirable seats now also have a wall of iPhones and iPads to contend with for a decent view... Cue Tommy Hilfiger’s brainwave idea to create an “InstaPit” for “Instagram content creators” at its fall 2016 show next month. Complementing the traditional photo pit for agencies like Getty, the InstaPit will be an “exclusive pit for Instagrammers to capture the looks as they premiere on the runway”. The growth of Instagram and the overall presence of apps and technology in the fashion industry is undeniable and fashion designers’ acknowledgement of this is crucial to the development of their brands. Alongside Tommy Hilfiger’s forward thinking catwalks, other tech- savvy designers include Burberry, who launched its own Apple TV channel by using the platform to stream its A/W 16-17 menswear show, and J.W. Anderson’s decision to exclusively live-stream his A/W 16-17 show on the gay dating app Grindr. Not only is the fashion week format adapting to adhere to the changing consumer desires of today, but also to push the boundaries of what is actually possible now with technology. Berlin designer, Michael Michalsky, opted to showcase his new couture line on miniature 3D-printed mannequins during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. The “Reality” exhibition featured 15 3D-printed dolls adorned in the German designer’s most recent looks. This innovative and original presentation is unsurprising from Michalsky, who is well known for being adidas’ creative director from 1995 to 2006, and more recently the creative expert at Düsseldorf based 3D printing tech company, Doob Group AG, which specialises in 3D scanning and the manufacturing of these 3D-printed figurines. With the possibilities expanding before us, I cannot wait to see what future fashion week presentations might have in store for us.

5. Virtual Reality: The Future of Retail?

Cheap units, affordable entry points, a hungry Hollywood and the right level of consumer interest. It may not be a mass consumer product yet, but VR already has more than $120 billion projected for it by 2020, so a lot of brands are, rightly so, jumping on the bandwagon. The VR leaders of Q4 2015 are the ones you’d expect, on the whole; Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, Sony, Disney... the list goes on. Designers are using VR in their fashion shows and in their stores; retail giant Tommy Hilfiger’s fall 2015 catwalk show was available to watch via a virtual reality headset in select stores around the world, whilst up and coming Swedish designer Ida Klamborn is using VR to offer up a real-time initiative live from her front row for fans. Even American malls housing J.C.Penney stores were welcoming customers with a virtual reality Christmas experience over the holidays which took shoppers on an immersive ride to the North Pole. It is a new exciting way in which to drive traffic through shops. Tommy Hilfiger’s chief executive, Daniel Grieder, told the NY Times of their VR experience “These days, you can’t just wait for people to come into the store and try on your jackets. You have to provide entertainment. it’s not about turnover by square foot anymore. It’s about surprise by square foot, or newness”. And thus we have the future of retail: immersive technology that pushes the consumer that one step further than they could go before.


Mark Zuckerberg faces impossibly stressful fashion decisions as he prepares to return to work after a 2 month paternity leave...

Link here