Does Retail Tech & Fashion Tech Go Hand in Hand?

Muchaneta Kapfunde | @FashNerdEditor

The Fashion Week season has so far been more about being digital than Fashion Tech. We can count on one hand, maybe two, the designers that have so far shown us how they have seamlessly integrated technology in their SS16 collections.

A pattern I have noticed is how retail tech is being dressed up as fashion tech. So why is this? Maybe it is a case of mistaken identity? This season many fashion brand’s have confused digital tech with Fashion Tech. To be clear, Fashion Technology is all about showing innovation with designs integrated with technology, a great example is Iris van Herpen, whilst Retail Technology is more about digital advances mainly used to connect with consumer’s in a way that increases a brands sales, for example the use of social media platforms.

Model Alek Wek after the finale of the Chromat featuring Intel Collaboration show at Milk Studios on September 11, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel C Sims/Getty Images for Chromat)
Model Alek Wek after the finale of the Chromat featuring Intel Collaboration – NYFW | Photo Credit: Daniel C Sims/Getty Images for Chromat

So far, digital has been ruling the roost. Fashion Week has been all about the buzzing social media feeds. Platforms such as Twitter, Periscope and Instagram have been playing a pivotal role in how brands are being received by consumers. This digital open door policy, has brought about advances such as the digital schedule which now runs along the traditional runway schedule.

Although Fashion Tech has been lacking on the runway, it seems that it is all about baby steps. Digital media has been introducing technology to the fashion world via live steaming that has given millions access to their catwalk, backstage and FROW.  A good example of this is Burberry. At LFW, this digital pioneering brand, embraced the world of snapchat.  Snapchat is all about snapping a photo or a video, adding a caption, and sending it to a friend, they’ll view it, laugh, and then the Snap disappears from the screen. So how did Burberry use this tween favourite? Well they used this app to reveal their new SS16 collection via the ‘Snapchat Show’ by giving exclusive access to their design studio and beyond.

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Another brand was highstreet brand Topshop. This LFW they teamed up with this popular social media app to launch ‘Pinterest Palettes’. It is all about their loyal followers shopping recommendations from Topshop.com.  Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director at Topshop, said:
 “We recognise that the power of colour on our customer is huge; it has the ability to inspire, excite and drive purchases, so we’re delighted that our partnership with Pinterest has enabled us to explore the impact of colour, whilst engaging our customers in the excitement of London Fashion Week.”

With Fashion Week continuing to embrace the digital age through retail tech advancements we find ourselves appreciating designers who are paving the way by using technology to not only stay relevant but to also make it the norm. That all being said, we must admit that we wait with baited breath for the day that retail tech and runway tech becomes the norm and goes hand in hand at events such as Fashion Week.

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Muchaneta Kapfunde

Founding editor-in-chief at FashNerd.com
Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.
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