Started in 2014 as a series of Meetups focused on fashion tech startups and panel discussions, the FashTech Summit has now grown into a quarterly event that is all about driving innovation within the Fashion and Technology space. As the Fashion tech eco-system continues to emerge in cities like London, San Francisco and New York, FashTech events are successfully bringing together a community of fashion and technology enthusiasts, startups, brands and investors.
This year’s FashTech London event will be spread throughout three days. The first and second day will be devoted to panel discussions and presentations, whilst the third day will be dedicated to workshop’s centred around the million dollar question of ‘How to Boost Innovative Thinking?’
As a newbie to the #FashTech event, I arrived full of curiosity and with questions to be answered. In the past fashion tech events such as these have always left me wanting more, so as I grabbed my name badge I walked in with hope that the FashTech London Summit will be an event that will inspire me to share with you the panel discussions and presentations that proved to be the best conversation starters of the day.
The Conversation That Was All About Where The Industry Is Headed
Taking a look at my agenda, I was excited to see that the first panel was going to be centred around what the key fashion tech trends for 2016 will be. With an interesting panel that included Dean Johnson (Bandwidth), Henry Stuart (Visualise) and Stefanie Cherlet (Vinaya) I found myself drawn into their conversation as they discussed which technologies will soon become obsolete, what retailers have learned so far from tech and how they would define fashion technology. With various opinions being shared on VR, big data and industry collaborations/partnerships, it was refreshing to hear different takes on where the industry is headed, and before I knew it was onto the next.
The Discussion That Explored Retail Technology
The luxury industry is no stranger to Fashion Technology, so it was great to see that there was going to be a panel discussion on luxury in the digital space. On the stage was Zoe Patoff (Karla Otto), Telemaco Michailidis (LifestyleDeath.com), Pia Stanchina (Google), and Michael Jais (LaunchMetrics). What interested me about this panel discussion was that they were going to be focusing on strategy, risks and the future of luxury retailing in the digital era. I wanted to know what lessons I would learn from the experts when it comes to success stories vs risks taken. As I listened, I noticed the panel agreed that the biggest problem for famous brands today is that they don’t know how to utilise the enormous amount of big data they have collected and that they are often very slow when it comes to quick reactions to their customers needs. On this Patoff shared “There is a lack of knowledge in fashion tech industry, especially in the fashion industry, big brands are controlling and change is hard. They need to be more agile to embracing digital strategies and incorporating tech”. I couldn’t agree more.
The Presentation That Introduced Us To ‘Visual Clutter’
With many fashion tech brands over complicating and creating visually complex products, Jason Briscoe‘s (The Workshop) presentation hit the nail on the head when it came to the subject of less is more. He identified that it can be quite hard for a potential customer to cope with technology so therefore “simple design strategy is more important than ever, because good design makes a product understandable, honest, thorough and basically, as little design as possible.” The key word was “Visual Clutter”. He explained about the importance of fashion and graphic design, whilst also helping us understand that in the end consumers are only human and that it is key that we keep things simple by avoiding over stimulation.
The Talk That Raised The Roof of The House
The presentation du jour was given by Debera Johnson, from the Pratt Institute and Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator. While much of fashion-tech is focused on retail environments and web based platforms, scientific discoveries are reinventing the materials, function and properties of our clothing. This is a fact that Johnson pointed out to the audience during the presentation. Speaking about smart textiles in the apparel industry, 3D printing and nano technology, Johnson also mentioned some well known brands like Levi’s, Patagonia and Bionic Yarn who are already working on new generation textiles that will not only be better, but also smarter. Johnson took us on a journey that explored the other side of fashion technology and how it is changing the future of fashion. So what is next? Johnson shared, “Future and potential lies in small companies where the focus is not on immediate growth, but on what’s relevant, meaningful and durable.”
The One that Was Right Up Our Street
The panel discussion that was right up FashNerd’s street was all about ‘The Coolest Tech on the Block’ On stage was Oliver Franklin-Wallis (WIRED), Jonathan Chippindale (Holition), Nick Carvell (GQ.co.uk) and Sarah Walter (Metail). The impressive panel revealed the future technologies and gave some great feedback on which new technologies are likely to have an impact in 2016. I found this panel to be the most thought provoking when it came to delivering the best quotes of day one:
“I’m interested in big fashion tech breakthroughs and platforms that will build, and those that solve problems and fulfil the need of the customer, otherwise they just become a gimmick” – Jonathan Chippindale (Holition)
“A lot of fashion companies still see technology as a gimmick and avoid to use it. Also, many brands don’t actually know how to utilise the technology”- Nick Carvell (GQ.co.uk)
“…at the end of the day consumer decides what wins, so as long as brands are building a product that fulfills the need of a customer, it is not a gimmick”– Sarah Walter (Metail)
As the last talk of the day, a presentation on engineering an image to create cultural chaos, came to an end, my head was buzzing with quotes, ideas and various conversations on where Fashion Tech is headed. Day one left me looking forward to day two. I just hope it manages to hold my interest the way today did.
(ARTICLE EDITED BY MUCHANETA KAPFUNDE)