Today was the first day of Fashion Futurum. In its third season, Fashion Futurum promises to be an important part of Russia’s flourishing fashion week. The innovative event is a great starting point for designers and makers in Russia interested in the fashion technology movement.
When it comes to first impressions of the event, I must say I was impressed with not only how knowledgeable the speakers were but also how they openly involved the audience in their presentation. Simply put, it was less of a monologue and more of dialogue, and for someone who has attended many fashion tech events I can only appreciate that.
Flown in from different parts of the world, they gave the audience a well rounded view of how the merger of fashion and technology is evolving. From electronic’s relationship with fashion to the importance of educating the consumer on sustainability. Attending audience was exposed to different point of views regarding the future of fashion and the role that innovation has been predicted to play.
On day 1 of Fashion Futurum, the discussion started with the question of how can we resolve the problem of: “Fashion companies making smart jewellery with really bad technology, and technology companies designing smart jewellery that ends up being a really ugly product”. The attention grabbing question was made by David Monteith, fashion and apparel director at Flextronics in the US. Captivating the audience from his first uttered word, he not only explored how wearables seem to “sell more than people actually use them”, Monteith also delved into the manufacturing revolution. On this he pointed out that the main roadblock currently faced by many brands is looking into how they can standardise technology and make it one size fits all. I think this is a near impossible task. Consumers all want different things. What is convenience for one might not be the case for another. Monteith also stated that when it comes to smart apparel, it mainly only appeals to three types of people; the tech nerd from Silicon Valley who wants to own anything tech, someone from the apparel industry who wants to cut it up to see how it is made and one of the people involved in making the product and loves it so much that they buy a few of the product to give it as gifts. According to him, this translates to smart apparel not selling well compared to wearables like smart watches and fitness trackers.
“Fashion companies making smart jewellery with really bad technology, and technology companies designing smart jewellery that ends up being a really ugly product”.
Before Monteith ended his talk, we had to get a question in there. I asked, “when it comes to creating a smart fabric garment that we can actually wash, is an open dialogue between smart textile companies and washing machine companies the answer?” On this he stated that at the moment he can see two options; visual ID technology and RFID tags embedded into clothing. He continued, “The main challenge for our washing machines, is to figure out what am I washing now? Also we need to acknowledge that our washing machine and dryers can be quite abusive on our cloths so therefore smart clothes need to be 10 times mire durable.” So what is the solution? Well, Monteith thinks that in the end it all comes down to the clothing identification by washing machines. He thinks this will enable the relationship between the apparel makers and washing machine people.
Montheith talk was followed by Giusy Bettoni CEO of C.L.A.S.S Eco Textile Library based in Italy. Focusing on responsibility and how it is imperative it is that we recognise this, Bettoni educated us on brands like Levi, H&M, Pantagonia and Stella McCartney that are doing thus. She recognised them as being conscious companies that were somehow going out of their way to educate consumers through their products.
Bettoni, whose company has been, since 2007, using a unique multi-platform HUB specialized in integrating a new generation of eco values into fashion and home products, introduced the audience to companies like Bacx by Centro Seta. What made them interesting was how they focused on creating new generation silk that has no chemicals. She also talked about how smart materials from Okinawa, based in Italy. They have become well known for their creation of an alternative to leather which has the least amount of affect on the planet. On this she also added, that the most interesting innovation is currently coming from Italy and Japan. She concluded her talk with an emphasis on education. She believes that in order for sustainability to be adopted by mainstream consumers they need to understand what it means to buy sustainable fashion. They can not make an informed decision if they do not understand it. According to Bettoni, we need to understand that sustainable decisions are not the same as ethical decisions.
As Fashion Futurum day one wrapped up, our highlights of the day included Scott Edmond, head of innovation at Neiman Marcus, talk on how retailers need to embrace innovation in order to improve their customers shopping experience. Craig Arend, who educated us about how Virtual and Augmented Reality affects e-Commerce in Fashion. And Marci Jarvis from World Textile Information Network who talked about the perfect storm and technology’s role in disrupting the value chain. Tomorrow I look forward to hearing from Piia Lehtinen (President of the Board Design District, Helsinki Finland), Amanda Parkes (Chief Technology and Research, Manufacture US) and Eddie Mullen (CEO of Launchmetrics).