Fashion technology is transforming the way women experience fashion. As shoppers and business leaders, we are increasingly exerting powerful influence on how fashion is designed and made, by advocating desires and values with our shopping decisions.
Fashion brands are watching and listening
As fashion moves further into the digital age, the wave of change is heating up. Five trends are currently challenging fashion companies. Why does this matter? Because the target zone of all of these changes is your customer information.
Customer analytics sharpen the lens of fashion design. Companies are gathering more customer information than ever before about our likes, dislikes, purchases and preferences. Creating over 11,000 new products a year, popular Spain-based retailer Zara has a data processing center that looks like a picture of NASA’s Mission Control Center. To keep customer attention and inventory fresh and low, more and more companies rely on real-time information to update design decisions.
As a shopper, you are sending a message with every purchase. If you are active on social media, rate products on websites, or shop online, you are influencing other shoppers and brands. Recognizing the power of the smart consumer, many companies bring customer champions inside their business models by compensating brand ambassadors and influencers with discounts, samples or direct payment.
Wearables health and wellness technology go exponential
The first Fitbit hit the market in 2012. Today, over half of Americans wear fitness trackers daily. As sensor technologies advance, more health information is available to move wearables from a focus on fitness to a focus on health and wellbeing. Watch for new products that will be able to track vital signs, fitness goals and dietary influences while informing you about a variety of your own health indicators such as glucose levels and cardiovascular strength.
Customer experience—get set for adventure
New technologies such as augmented and virtual reality will enhance our in-store experiences. Fashion mirrors that scan your body and allow you to virtually “see” garments on a 360-degree image of yourself are coming to stores. Online, companies such as True Fit, will offer avatar-like measurement systems to customize your product selection.
Lifestyle designs and new materials
Susie Mulder, CEO of NIC+ZOE, an innovative fashion brand based in Boston, leads a team that focuses on designing apparel that supports women throughout our busy lives. Designed for women, by women, NIC+ZOE original knitwear is intended to be worn at the office and into whatever activities that follow the workday. Like Mulder, as more women take the helm at fashion companies, the design of women’s clothing has started to reflect more of what we, as women, really need.
Another change in the materials world, 3D printing allows tech-savvy stores to create and make styles in whatever color and size that you prefer. The process works like this: Your dimensions are scanned and then read by a 3D printer. During the printing process, materials are layered (rather than pieced together) using knits or a variety of materials. Ministry of Supply in Boston, a vanguard in 3D fashion, can make a customized jacket, sweater or, even, suit for you within a few hours. Coming in the near future, you may even be able to print your own styles at home.
Customer values matter in the making as fashion goes digital
Healthy products, good work practices and transparent supply chains matter to women shoppers. Supply chains include all of the steps used to make and deliver products. Ensuring that consumers know how products are made renders the whole work process open to consumer eyes. Women are challenging fashion companies to create, make and deliver quality products that reflect good values throughout fashion business models.
Boston-based, but Colombia-built, Artyfactos creates jewelry from natural ingredients such as orange peel, coffee beans and acai seeds, supporting women artisans directly who have severely limited chances of employment in their communities in South America, thus supporting a women-to-women global supply chain focused on growing women’s business opportunities.