The Future of Fashion: How Technology is Reshaping the Industry
As one of the biggest industries in the world, it’s surprising to learn that the way fashion operates today hasn't changed that much in the past twenty years. However, the rising concerns about fair wages, pollution, as well as the need to satisfy the hyper-connected consumers of today, have given way to new exciting technologies. As this trend continues to rise, it makes less and less sense for companies and brands to keep producing large quantities of apparel, months in advance, with no certainty of how well it will sell. In today’s article, we explore some of the top tech advancements being used in fashion today.
1. AI Fashion Designer
You have definitely come across chatbots and touchscreens in stores to improve customer experience and customized product suggestions. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to head to a fashion brand’s website and not find some form of AI chat technology that’s being used to help enhance the customer experience. The technology behind AI includes algorithms that track customers journeys to match them with the right products.
Furthermore, trend forecasting is typically labor-intensive, involving manual or digital observation and data collection from fashion designers and influencers. However, Fashion brands are reshaping their approach to product design and development by predicting what customers will want to wear next. By harnessing data directly from users, brands like Finery and StitchFix can have fast, easy access to information that helps them plan the styles people will love and know what quantities to manufacture.
Taking it a step further, technology is also automating the fashion design process. Google has already explored the field of user-driven AI fashion design with Project Muze, an experiment it deployed in partnership with Germany-based fashion platform Zalando in 2016. Of course, the outcomes of AI design aren’t always stellar, but nevertheless, the gap between AI-developed designs and human-made ones is closing. AI Software can now use deep learning to produce original designs drawn from images, themes, and keywords imported by human designers.
2. Sustainable Materials
Fashion has long been one of the biggest contributors to waste and climate change, largely because of its unsustainable and non-eco-friendly production methods. But the tides are changing, and brands are moving towards more sustainable fabrics and manufacturing methods. Apparel brands are upgrading their fibers and fabrics. With consumers demanding sustainability across the entire supply chain, it’s no longer enough to call basic fabrics eco-friendly. Instead, companies are developing brand-new fibers out of discarded or biodegradable materials.
3. 3D Printing in fashion
3D printing is becoming essential in the design and development of clothing and footwear, as it allows producers to prototype in real time, instantly tweaking and altering in a way that’s a lot more efficient than it once was. 3D printing is also hugely impactful to footwear—New Balance and Reebok both use 3D printing to print components of their shoes, including laces and soles.
Despite the fact it takes many hours to create, it results in less waste and proves far less labor-intensive than other types of manufacturing. Indeed, printing garments on-demand reduces fabric waste by about 35%. This minimal waste approach could provide valuable insights on how to reshape the current state of factories and align them with a more sustainable social and environmental focus.
4. VR in Retail
Employing virtual augmented reality helps shoppers visualize and try on clothing online, which gives greater accuracy, thanks to customized measurement functionality. It also means that customers might be more likely to buy products they feel that they’re tried on.This kind of online shopping experience engages and retains the customers longer, as they love seeing the product on themselves before buying. This, combined with the ability to share your findings on social media, makes it even more appealing to customers.
5. Smart Inventory Management
As e-commerce has grown into a mega industry, inventory management becomes more important. Technology can help improve the accuracy of information, and it can be as simple as letting shoppers and retailers know when an item is out of stock. Besides that, advanced systems are able to effectively track products as they move along the supply chain, hence allowing shoppers and suppliers to track their orders in real-time, improving customer experience and enhancing internal processes. With an increase in the inventory accuracy, out-of-stocks are significantly reduced, And by cutting the out-of-stocks, item availability is increased, which can lead to substantial and measurable sales increases.
Ultimately, many of the technological advancements in fashion today have the end goal of being sustainable. With fast fashion finally taking the backseat, it hopefully won't be long before the fashion industry makes it shift towards a more sustainable approach for the long haul.