To some, technology has turned the ever evolving fashion industry upside down and to others technology has become the driving force behind the industry moving forward into a smarter future.
For technology to rewire the fashion industry, there must be a seamless meeting of minds. The two industries need to come to an understanding and acceptance that “technology is now completely ingrained in our interaction and relationship with fashion and retail” (Arabella James, a Futures Consultant at The Future Laboratory). In the last few years, we have all witnessed how technology has become not only the new face of influence within the fashion industry, but also the biggest player in the evolution of fashion collaborations.
First established out of necessity, fashion x tech collaborations have played a significant role in fusing the two worlds together. With the excitement of new innovation growing, fashion labels and a tech companies have come to the realisation that working together is big business. Whether it be on the runway or offline/online retail store, one only has to look at the positive attention that Chromat x Intel and Hermes x Apple collaborations received to know that the future is going to be fashion technology.
When it comes to the number of collaboration opportunities on offer, designer Anouk Wipprecht believes that there is “lack of collaboration between fashion houses and engineering departments.” She continues, “The technology industry is really trying to pull strings but the fashion industry is not showing that much interest. Even though it’s clear that we need good conversations about topics like washability, energising and the maintenance of electronic designs.”
Wipprecht makes a valid point, collaborations are not readily available to all. This could be because since fashion technology is still in its infancy, it not only affects the expense involved in financing a fashion tech collection, but also explains why the majority of fashion x tech collabs seem to exclusively be happening between luxury brands and technology companies, a trend known as a techno – luxury. Gone are the days when high end brands shunned the idea of introducing tech to their collections, nowadays you will find the most traditional of labels grasping at the opportunity to be in with the cool tech kids- a memorable example is DVF x Google Glass.
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With Credit Suisse predicting that in three to five years £18-30 billion a year will be spent on wearables, it is no wonder luxury labels such as Aspinal of London, Zac Posen, Alexander Wang, Gareth Pugh and Hussein Chalayan are including technology in their collection. Although they are presently on the outside looking in, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change if some high street stores got in on the act as well?
As technology continues to prompt change, there has, in recent years, been an army of fashion tech start-ups creating a distinct brand that brings technology to fashion. A great example is EMEL + ARIS. They are part of a new breed of fashion tech of labels cutting out the middle man and doing all the designing and technology in house. These innovative creatives do not feel the need to collaborate with a tech company because they already possess the skills required to create a fashion tech collection. So what will this mean for the future of the merge?
Well, I am sure that as long as the merge continues to entice the Paul Deneve’s and Angela Ahrendts’ of the fashion world to join tech companies, that collaborations between traditional fashion labels and tech companies will continue to strengthen. For those who still find fashion technology to be a bit science fiction, then to you I quote Charles Kettering-“our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.”
Article first published on FashTech Weekly Digest.