5 Things You May Have Missed This Week

By Georgia Buchanan

1. The first FashTech Talk of 2016 announced!

We were excited to announce this week that we will be hosting our first FashTech Talk of the year on Wednesday 16th March at Second Home in Brick Lane.

The first in a series of FashTech Talks, “My Dream About AI” will be a free event, spotlighting Martin Peniak, who works in the area of parallel programming. In his post-doctoral studies at university in Plymouth, Martin trained the humanoid robot iCub and was the first to apply parallel programming in the field of cognitive robotics. Currently, Martin works for Cortexica where he is creating a biologically inspired system for visual searching.

Martin’s work has received global attention and he is praised for his ability to explain complex topics such as parallel programming and cognitive robotics to the layperson. Join us for what promises to be an informative discussion on how these technologies could impact our world: http://bit.ly/1OPwYc3

2. Are Sound-Wave Changing Prints the Future of Fashion?

The recent fashion weeks have shown us just how quickly the world of fashion is progressing, with so many technological advances, disruptive designers and social media platforms helping to evolve the way the industry works.

Another of the ways in which we are experimenting is through aesthetics, fabrics and unexpected textiles. Which leads us to: Japanese brand Anrealage. Their AW16 collection was futuristic and spellbinding for many reasons, but most vividly for the use of “Visual Cryptography” to create a fabric that changed patterns throughout the catwalk. “At first glance, the fabric pattern looks like a snow noise, but several informations are coded in the fabric, just like cryptography by a computer program” the brand’s press release explained. “When seen through a transparent filter, these informations are ‘decoded’, [and] new prints appear. Thanks to an advanced digital technology, you catch informations from the noise combining layers of fabrics. Now you will see binary patterns such as hound tooth check, checkerboard, and horizontal stripes”.

Whilst this advancement in textiles and aesthetics may be difficult to imagine translating into everyday wear, it is yet another way in which fashtech is working to break the mould of the currently fairly saturated state of fashion and push the boundaries set by the norm.

3. Rebecca Minkoff: The FashTech Revolution Needs More Women

It’s a topic that we’ve touched on before; women’s presence in the #FashTech world, and it is an ongoing debate in the industry, as in most business realms across the globe.

Whilst many may associate fashion with women more commonly than with men, we are still hugely lacking the gender diversity needed when it comes to the various behind the scenes areas of the industry; namely tech.

Rebecca Minkoff described this week how the lack of any female millennial representation (a huge part of their target demographic) in their engineering team could have created a huge unforeseen problem in the success of their interactive dressing rooms. They spent months creating state-of-the-art digital changing rooms, and then when it came to the day of the big reveal: “This mirror makes me look fat”. A very important aspect of the product was not considered by the developers because none of them were female. So basically, if you want women to buy your products, it’s probably a good idea to have women involved in the conception of said products.

Rebecca said “We’re living through an extraordinary period of transformation, where discplines like fashion and technology are converging. I may not have an engineering degree, but as we develop new digital innovations to scale our brand, I need technology partners who understand how my customers see the world and right now there aren’t enough women in technology”.

Read Rebecca’s article, and the discussion it has created, here: http://bit.ly/1pqeQAN

4. Yoox Net-A-Porter Group x Bologna Business School

Yoox Net-A-Porter Group is partnering up with Bologna Business School to launch a centre to help develop digital talent. The Centre for Digital Business Education will combine their collective ecommerce expertise to help train managerial candidates for an increasingly digital world.

Massimo Bergami, Dean of Bologna Business School, describes how there is now a “digital gap or, better, a generation gap” in the business world, with nearly 90% of jobs needing digital skills, which half of the European workforce is lacking. Professionals in their thirties and forties often don’t have the same intuitive understanding of the digital world that the millennials do, and it is affecting not only their personal work progression, but also the progress of the companies they work for. “This human capital ‘gap’ is one that companies, and in particular the medium-sized ones that represent the large majority of the European companies, are struggling with: How to merge their managerial skills and professional resources into the digital world. This is exactly where the Centre for Digital Business Education can play a role, bridging this gap, providing the managerial and digital skills for professionals of the future”.

Other key players, like Google, IBM and GroupM, will be involved in the project also, helping to shape the curriculum, assist with scholarships, and have some of their managers serve as professors. The program will help students work towards roles such as web analyst, web marketing manager, specialist in big data, ecommerce manager and site manger. The Centre runs master’s degree programs in a wide variety of subjects, from marketing and communication, to data science, and will play host to lectures from some of the industry’s experts, such as Brunello Cucinelli and Oscar Farinetti.

5. WhatsApp: The Latest Way for Retailers to Communicate with their Consumers?

So British Vogue has announced it will be introducing a WhatsApp group.

“Joining our group means we’ll message you as soon as the creative director of Dior is announced, or the Chanel catwalk pictures go live, or the Oscars dresses land on the site: no more scouring Twitter or relying on tabloids for your latest fashion fix”, they said.

However, it is not a WhatsApp group in the sense that we know, messaging amongst friends with live gossip and photos and audio notes. Being part of the Vogue WhatsApp group does not entail conversation with other avid readers and (even more exciting) writers. It is, in fact, a broadcast list. Which is essentially a mailer. But to the app on your phone, rather than your email inbox. You can’t see who else the news bulletins have gone to, or start up a conversation with anyone. You just receive the info at a certain (pre-scheduled) time to do with what you wish.

Examples of the messages you might receive if you join (as tested by Rachel Arthur of Fashion and Mash) are: “JUST IN: See every look from this morning’s Chloé AW16 show here: LINK” or “Introducing British Vogue’s April 2016 cover girl - Rihanna: LINK”.

Personally, I don’t really see the use of this for the retailer, or the appeal of this as a consumer. If it’s pretty much simulating a generic subscription mailer, I’d rather keep it to my emails. But I do think the use of WhatsApp is an interesting idea, if used as the platform is intended to be used; for personal chit chat. This poses a number of logistical problems, of course, because does Vogue really have the means to employ people whose only job is to chat away with readers on their phones? Probably not. But I have no doubt that it will only be a matter of time before WhatsApp becomes yet another one of the fashion world’s favourite tools with which to connect to their consumers on a global scale.