Day 1: Decoded Fashion Beyond The Hype

Muchaneta Kapfunde | @FashNerdEditor

Decoded Fashion, the brainchild of Liz Bacelar, is an event that is all about building the bridge between Fashion and Technology.

As first timers at Decoded, Day 1 will centre around exploring Decoded Fashion and going beyond all the hype.The break down of the day will be split into three; the best of the AM, the best of the PM and then the One to Watch Keynote.  Today we look forward to bringing you insight on the most talked about event in the FashionTech community. So do read on!

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THE BEST OF THE AM: Meeting The Panel Discussing The Now & Next of Tech

As I downed my rapidly cooling venti hazelnut latte, I realised that it was time to make my way down the stairs to the first panel discussion.

Moderated by David Babroff (ASOS), he introduces us to Lou Ashton (Topshop), Kelly Kowal (Farfetch.com), Liz Crawford (Birchbox) and James Wintle (All Saints).

With excitement rippling through the audience, first on the agenda was the question, ‘what role does technology play within fashion?’ On the subject, Kelly Kowal from Farfetch.com stated, “it is the responsibility of every fashion company to be able to identify a way for both fashion and technology to co-exist because in the end they are both of equal importance”. She continued, “it is all about balance, one cannot exist without the other”.  James Wintle agreed but pointed out that when it comes to All Saints,  it is a tech business that sells fashion. Technology for the company is an enabler that helps them reach their targeted consumers. “Technology should be the core part of any business because it plays an integral part in creating a deeper relationship with the consumer.”

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Next, the panel moved onto the topic whether brands can compete with buzz feed content. Well we all know that it is all comes down to producing content that is engaging and will raise brand awareness. Lou from Topshop pointed out that “it is not about being competitive with others, but about creating a social community with the kind of content that can successfully speaks to the customer”.

Another angle that was explored on this subject was the use of social media platforms. The panel agreed that it is key to produce natural sounding content that is focuses more on the customer’s needs and on what they search for online.

Continuing on the topic of content, Kelly from Farfetch shared that when it comes to content they are more about finding their synergy. They think about what their customers are doing offsite because they want to be able to create the kind of content that their customers will not get elsewhere. For Farfetch it is all about what their customers want and making sure that their content does not get caught up in the mass wave of generated content. It was clear that what it all comes down to it, if technology is used correctly you will be able to provide the right kind of content at the right time, because in the end technology should be a tool that facilitates the integration of content in a non intrusive way.

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With time running out the panel moved onto the relevance of wearables in fashion. Before the moderator could start the conversation, the AppleWatch and its impact on fashion found its way into the conversation. With a smile of utter defiance the panel proudly admitted that they did not ever want to own an Apple Watch, but then with a nervous laughter one member of the panel confessed that actually they did want one after all.

Following the red faced confession, a member of the panel asked whether hype can make the AppleWatch  a fashionable product? On this the panel’s response was split 4 to 1, with the majority stating the Apple Watch is shamefully gimmicky and also quite limited in what it can actually do.  It seemed that they all expected more from Apple. They argued that with all the technology currently available surely the AppleWatch could have become the game changer in both the world of Fashion and Technology.

Braboff then asked the panel, does the Apple watch really enrich the life of the consumer? They all universally agreed that it was still early days. Who knows what tomorrow brings. As the discussion came to a close, it was clear that the panel believed that Technology and Fashion needed to work together so their brand could be seamless across all digital channels.  As the panel left the stage to a thunder of applause I was left wondering, does fashion realise that it is not a case of choosing whether they want to use technology in their everyday business but it is more about them accepting that in the end their overall future lies in the technology of tomorrow.

With those thoughts giving me food for thought I headed of to lunch.

THE BEST OF THE PM: Exploring Tech Beyond The Gimmicks

If fashion is ever going to accept technology as part and parcel of its business it needs to first look beyond its gimmick phase and try to understand what it is trying to achieve.

In order for fashion to make it happen seamlessly, developers need to understand that the road to success is a two way street. For both to become one they need to create something that is mutually beneficial for both developer and the fashion industry. For the  relationship to strengthen both Fashion and Technology need to be adaptable to each other.

In order for this to happen seamlessy, there needs to be solid infrastructure in place that will make it possible for people to engage. For a gimmick to have mass appeal it needs to be inexpensive, scalable and relatable, because if it is too complex and costly then the  likelihood is that it will most likely go from gimmick, to boys toy, to no longer existing.

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A good example of a well known gimmick that everyone is now loving is having the App. Downloaded in its millions, building an appealing app is now big business. It is no longer seen as something created for just amusement, it is instead being used by fashion companies to create the ultimate experience for their customer. Apps have successfully made the journey from gimmick to an educating tool.

Nowadays, a gimmicky device’s smartest route to success is to collaborate with an well known fashion brand. Why? because when a gimmick works alongside an established label its road to success is speeded up.

When it comes to other tools that can help the gimmick device evolve is the use of social media. It is a tool that has the power to remove the gimmick label if used correctly give the developers access to feedback that is incredibly valuable and will help smooth out any edges.

Which leaves us with the question, are we ever going to be able to move away from the rather off putting gimmick phase? Well it is unlikely because with technology still at its exploration stage, innovation, whether it is gimmicky or not, continues to rule the roost.

ONE TO WATCH KEYNOTE: Fashion Interview With Hussein Chalayan

Dressed in black jeans, a blue tee and a black zip up sweater, W magazine editor Gianluca Lonogo introduces the casually dressed designer Hussein Chalayan.

When asked about technology, Hussein admitted that he doesn’t always use technology, but when he does he can truly create something unique with it. For the designer, technology is a tool, not a means to an end. Well known for using technology to create installation led projects, it was Hussein’s Coffee Table Skirt that still to this day is being talked about. How can we be surprised with that, he created furniture that could be both portable and wearable.

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In the interview, Hussein shares that technology is a great digital media tool because it can help a designer reach consumers without having to go through editors. He admits that he does not personally use social media, but his team uses technology to reach a broader audience. Without the usual filter, technology allows designers to communicate with a wider spectrum of people at a faster rate. He can also appreciate how also technology play a key role in communicating with the younger generation who have been born into technology and identify it as their language.

So whats the downfall of designers using technology? With a sigh he states at the moment there is over saturation of information. He believes that it is unfortunate that technology has exposed fashion to the LIKE culture because such attention has the potential to cheapen a brand. He referred to this as ‘social pornography’, stressing that it is the result of the thriving celebrity age we currently live in.

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When finally asked why he personally doesn’t join Instagram he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “I haven’t got the time and also I like to remain private”. With those final words from Hussein, Day 1 comes to an end. Roll on Day 2.

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