Is Fashion Finally Catching Up With Technology?

Muchaneta Kapfunde | @FashNerdEditor

When you take a moment to question whether fashion is as innovative as it thinks, you realise that it is an industry that likes to think its ahead of its game but actually it is busy playing tech catchup whilst recycling past trend ideas from 10 years ago- hello 90’s.

Hussein Chalayan Collection 2015
Hussein Chalayan Collection 2015

Is Fashion Finally Catching Up With Technology? Is a question that I always answer with a long sigh and a roll of the eyes. How much more can we write about whether Fashion and Technology are able to really come together? It seems that the whole world (and its mother) have pondered over this conundrum to no avail.

Although there is no clear answer to this question, I do think that the time has come for fashion to really embrace the design evolution that has been trying to take place in the last few years. We cannot be satisfied with only dipping our toes into the world of FashionTech. We need to go beyond the bells and whistles and take a page out of the young fashion innovator’s book and dive straight into technology head first.

Should the small circle of Anna Wintours who rule fashion with an iron fist refuse to jump, lets give them a push. Let it be the kind of push that will mean the industry will become players rather than just observers. Why? Because the future of FashionTech cannot remain a niche pond only swam by the likes of Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch, lets get more designers involved. It is time to make technology the rule rather than the exception. Lets not keep it as something ‘special’ and ‘exclusive’ to those who only see FashionTech as a passing trend.

Designs by Xiaotian Zhang (Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology), winner of the Arts of Fashion Paris summer MasterClass award. Photo by Margo Moritz.
Designs by Xiaotian Zhang (Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology). Photo by Margo Moritz.

For those who dare, success comes in the shape of Natalie Massenet. She is the woman behind the Net-a- Porter brand. Coming from the school of “unafraid to try something new”, her idea led to Massenet successfully creating an online shopping experience that felt like browsing in a luxurious boutique on Bond Street. She was an early adopter of integrating technology into her business and making it work for her.

Massenet has fashionably led the way and with sports brands like Nike and Adidas embracing “technological innovation” in shoe design, fashion has to fully wake up to the possibilities of digital technologies. We are with Rem D Koolhaas, co-founder of footwear brand United Nude who says: “Fashion is actually running behind with the use of technology if you compare it with architecture and product design, and that’s perhaps also the reason why outsiders from the world of fashion have helped and are still helping to stir things up and push boundaries. The fashion industry itself often prefers to run in circles.”  With his words echoing I have realised that I can accept that fashion is old fashioned when it comes to technology, but I believe that if our parents, who were once suspicious at the idea of texting are now typing away at 40wpm, fashion has no real excuse when it comes to embracing change.

Natalie Massenet Photographed For i-D
Natalie Massenet Photographed For i-D

So is fashion ever going to catch up with technology? Well I am a glass half full kind of girl, so I believe that it will. Not so much through the influencers of today but instead through the young fashion designers of tomorrow who are being taught how to use, experiment and appreciate digital technology. They are the next generation of fashion influencers who will be leading the way and stepping up to the challenge of integrating technology into their everyday thought pattern. The way forward is for the industry to invest in the future of technology, whilst acknowledging the advances so far such as the 2D printing of fabrics, 3D printing, injection molding and 3D weaving. I am confident that technological innovation will develop and bridge the gap between technology and fashion but the secret I believe is in not separating the two industries but instead seeing them as one.

Feel free to add to this article by sharing in the comment section below.