How fashion innovations are impacting our lifestyles.
Technology x Fashion x Wellness x Lifestyle x Creative
In this new series, I’ll be exploring some of the big digital ideas emerging to impact our lifestyles. The ideas that are enhancing, outpacing, or outright disrupting the current world order. And along the way I’ll be throwing in some ideas that haven’t yet come to fruition but which I think are very much needed.
First up: FASHION
In the wake of this month’s Burberry struggles, London Collections Men’s falling numbers (designers down 26% from last year) and the closure of UK High Street Retailer BHS, the impact of digital on fashion and retail is becoming increasingly apparent. One could be forgiven for thinking fashion is a doomed industry. And yet out of the noise, powerful new models are emerging. Could these be signals of a brighter fashion future?
To explore that thought, here are 5 top innovations of the moment, each a bright spot in a rapidly shifting landscape.
- Lease The Look
With a shift from ownership to usership in so many areas of our life, from cars by DriveNow to tunes from Spotify, Fashion Houses have been slow starters in the sharing economy. Whilst marketplaces for used garments and other models are gaining traction, it’s still early days for Fashion Houses themselves to embrace the concept. Which is why Filippa K’s Lease The Look is so interesting. Not only can customers rent the runway look instantly, they can also rent out in-store collections.
2. Slowing the spin cycle
With pre-season, season, out of season and Burberry’s latest shoppable runway, fashion seems to be getting ever faster. As an interesting counterpoint to this, a new order of brands are slowing down the fast fashion cycle. Iterating the current fashion calendar, new labels like Vetement are stringing out the cycle and planning direct to consumer shows off season. At the more extreme end of the scale, labels like Nudie Jeans are offer free repair services and in the case of Tom Cridland’s ’30 year t-shirt’ customers get a 30 year guarantee with every purchase.
In April H&M released the latest collection in its much lauded Conscious Exclusive range. But the very fact they have just one limited edition collection that is sustainable throws into question the remainder of the high street giant’s product range. Cue: fashion label Everlane with their ethos of ‘radical transparency’. As consumers increasingly want to vote for ethical fashion with their wallets, brands like Everlane make it easy for them to do so, showing the full breakdown of costs for the garment, and even a behind the scenes look at the factory where that item was made. Curated marketplaces like Zady, a lifestyle destination for conscious consumers, help make it easier to source beautiful, ethical fashion.
Perhaps one of the most exciting innovations in this space however is UK startupProvenance, using blockchain technology to track the provenance of products from footwear to fish!
Everlane’s transparent pricing, above, and below a factory worker from their Vietnam production line.
4. Work to workout
As someone who loves regular exercise, I find myself constantly carting around gym kit. Which is why I find the new cohort of technical clothing labels designing fashion that is ‘ready to move’ such an interesting space. Head of the pack are NYC label Adayand Lululemon’s much cooler younger cousin, Kit & Ace.
A perfect advertisement for her label, Aday Founder Nina Faulhaber is no stranger to the boardroom, with Index Ventures and Goldman Sachs on her CV before launching her contribution to this next generation of technical apparel. From biometric garments to wearables you actually want to wear, fitness apparel is something I’ll be exploring in more detail in a future post.
5. Not yet made
Retail giant Gap has been on a steady decline, hitting the headlines season after season with an ongoing story of excess inventory. Sales predictions totally misaligned with reality. US retailer newbie Bonobo has an interesting solution to this business challenge, with their guideshop concept. A Bonobo Guide helps you find the perfect fit instore, then your purchases are shipped to your home or office right away. You can’t take any garments home from the store even if you actually want to, but you can always find your size and the company’s aggressive growth across the US promises a more sustainable model of fashion retail.
However in my opinion the one to watch is Unmade. A London startup reinventing the knitwear industry, Unmade allows customers to co-create designs then essentially ‘hit print’ to create their perfect piece.
“By using cutting-edge technology to produce unique one-off garments, we’re making a more relevant and sustainable industry that’s designed for the future.”
Now that’s the kind of fashion future I’d like to subscribe to. In amongst the leadership upheavals and fashion industry turmoil, these new bright spots are a source of hope, proving to consumers there’s another way to stay on-trend and ethical. I remain optimistic.
About the author:
Abigail Freeman has worked in and around innovation and creative startups for the best of 12 years. Most recently she was CMO of the world’s leading creative retail network, We Are Pop Up, where she was fortunate enough to work with 1000s of creative retailers forging the future of the high street.
Next up: Can algorithms be creative?