Fashion sample collections are used to finalize designs, to show potential buyers and to assure consistency within the final production. Just as regular collections, the pre-consumer ones require a lot of resources to produce and are flown across the world –usually just to be discarded after use.
But what if you could opt out from this step completely? What if digital samples could be a sustainable option?
Several players in the fashion game are turning to technology to try new ways of approaching this. Dutch digital fashion startup The Fabricant create digital only clothing items and their idea, among other things, is to show that is possible to eliminate the need of physical samples an instead use digital samples.
The Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency (BRIA) is up to something similar. During a digital fashion installation at London Fashion Week recently, they showed how to both create hyper-realistic items digitally and fit them on digital avatars. Doing this, they even experienced greater accuracy than with physical fittings.
The 3D design tools of today offer great possibilities, the users claim. Not just photo-realistic renders of the garment, but also movement: with the help of animation you can add movement, drape and stretch, key elements in a design process.
But completely without the textile waste.
Complete digital wardrobes might still be a few steps into the future, but digital samples could actually be an important first step, offering at least part of a solution for a big industry problem.
Is the age of Instagram and Snapchat over? Not necessarily. But they have recently gained some competition by video platform TikTok, where users can create och share videos. It’s popularity has spread rapidly especially in China and USA, particularly among Generation Z and Millennial users.
Brands now see opportunities rising, and much so because of shopping functionalities within the TikTok app, The Current Daily reports. These include a shopping widget that lets users shop directly in the app, the Shop Now button.
Several brands have now taken to TikTok to promote their products. For instance Japanese brand Uniqlo who teamed up with TikTok to promote their spring/summer collection by encouraging users to upload videos of them wearing their favourite outfits from the collection and the chance to get their video played in store.
Luxury brand Burberry on their hand, challenged users to upload videos of them attempting to make the TB hand gesture, to mimic the newly instated Thomas Burberry monogram. Ralph Lauren and Hollister are other brands trying to tap into these opportunities.
Naturally brands are going to use whatever social platform that is currently in vogue to promote their products. But are they considering who they are talking to here?
Generation Z are the ones actually leading the fight for the climate right now, taking to the streets – and to TikTok under the #Globalwarning hashtag – demanding change. (And change need to happen especially within the fashion industry.)
Pushing new products and encouraging increased consumption seems slightly tone deaf considering this.
Photo: Screen shot from Appstore.
Gucci is doing it. So is Prada and Louis Vuitton. Digitizing physical clothing that is, with the goal of testing how digital clothing perform.
A new gaming app premiered about a week ago. It’s called Drest and there users can dress photo realistic avatars in styling challenges. The startup have so far recruited 100 brands, apart from the aforementioned Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, also Stella McCartney, Valentino and Burberry and many others. And more are to come before the official launch in 2020, Vouge Business reports.
App games and video games are now seen as as a way to reach consumers, since players are already used to dressing their avatars digitally. Louis Vuitton recently actually became the first luxury brand to enter a game. In ”League of Legends” they offered in-game ”skins” and a corresponding collection designed by Nicolas Ghesquière.
Unfortunately it seems like brands are primarily using this new approach to fashion to drive sales of physical products, rather than creating virtual clothing collections. In Drest, users can then buy the clothes they dressed the avatar in, at online luxury retail platform Farfetch.
I think it’s a real pity to use this opportunity for that, in times of climate crisis and the fashion industry’s need to drastically change. Why not grab the chance to try something new?
Let’s hope the experts are right when they claim that digital clothing will become more popular eventually.
Remember Google’s Project Jacquard? In 2017 they launched a denim jacket in collaboration with Levis, equipped with a touch sensitive smart fabric that worked as a remote for the wearer’s smartphone, to answer phone calls or get directions by tapping on the sleeve. And now they’re back again, but this time with a smart backpack in collaboration with French luxury brand Saint Laurent.
Just like its predecessor, the $995.00 backpack reacts to smart screen type gestures and taps, for instance to lower the volume on your music or receive text messages. So what’s new then?
Well, according to Digital Trends, the backpack comes with a new version of the Project Jacquard tag found in the left strap, and a Jacquard app that is designed to integrate with Google Assistant and its ”My Day” feature. The app will allow customized Google Assistant requests to be assigned to gestures, Cnet reports.
But the Saint Laurent bag is just the start. Jacquard 2.0 is going to get into a whole line of clothing and shoes this year. But not all the products will be as hefty priced as the Saint Laurent backpack.
Fashion chatbots: when did you last use one? The AI-powered chatbots for fashion made a brief appearance in the business a couple of years ago. Both Burberry and Louis Vuitton launched Facebook Messenger services primarily for shopping, while the chatbot Epytom did something similar but with styling tips instead, built on the contents of your own wardrobe. Somehow this phenomenon never really caught on though. The services were percieved as too clunky and and not very user friendly.
But now, a few years later, things might be changing.
Improvements in AI technology and the increasing tendency for shopping on mobile, is now cited as reasons to why AI-powered services might make their way back again, Vogue business reports. The development is described as a way for brands to speak with Millennials and Gen Z in their language. And the ones driving this right now are said to be personal shopping services such as Threads and Jetblack, who has seen an increase in interest in customers.
What I find a little discouraging though, is that these bots mainly seem to aim at increasing sales in a time when climate issues are at the top of the agenda, and increasing fashion consumption is a big problem. But hopefully there is a way for brands and services to use the bots for other purposes as well.
Size-related returns is big problem in online retail, not least from an environmental point of view. In the UK, fitting is the number one reason customers return their purchases, according to Globaldata. Online retailers have been turning to technology for a while to find solutions for this problem, Vogue Business reports. Zalando and Footlocker for instance, have experimented with tech that aims at finding the best fit possible for customers, among their existing products. But the core problem remains the same: all the ill-fitting clothes and shoes created to begin with.
So, what to do?
Fit prediction platform Body Block AI and 3D scanning company Fit 3D want to help brands integrate 3D sizing into the design process. They have made thousands of body scans, creating a database that gives brands information about size and shapes in different geographical locations.
And apparently their partners are now exploring another approach to sizing, moving away from the classic Small/Medium/Large scale into sizes that ”match the morphological types in their database.
A start at least.
Think you’ve got it covered because you use social media to target your audience? Think again. Fact is, the gaming world might be an even better bet. Although gaming has been a huge sector in entertainment for years it has so far not been seen as sector for the fashion industry to invest in, according to an article in fashion tech magazine Interlaced. But consumer behaviours are bringing gaming to the mainstream and its global revenue was according to BBH Labs, a research and development team at creative agency BBH, bigger than the movie and music industries together. And on top of that, more popular than Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
On September 11th, Interlaced is teaming up with experimental retail concept Lone Design Club (LCD) in London’s Covent Garden for a panel discussion about this potential merging of fashion and gaming.
The panel consisting of fashion designers, creative technologists and marketing directors will, among other things, discuss how fashion brands can create products for avatars and gaming and how digital-only products can change how we think about fashion production and sustainability.