Fashion Industry Still Awaits Its ‘Uber’ – Where’s The Disruptive Innovation? I hear every day about another new invention that is ‘for sure’ going to disrupt the fashion landscape. In most cases, it is either a new innovative technology such as graphene-based textiles, able to gather the wearer’s body electricity, new 3D printing techniques that output cotton-like materials, immersive e-commerce platforms running on augmented and mixed reality, or some sort of style-matching artificial intelligence powered fashion assistant apps.
The truth is, disruptive innovation starts when a product, a market, or an industry is replaced. Disruption is by definition destructive. To change for the better, it has to disrupt before it creates. Disruptive innovation has to disrupt jobs, businesses, industries. See the disruption caused by Uber and Airbnb, for example. Many jobs were lost, but many more jobs were created.
Disruptive Innovation – The Landscape Is Ripe
For that, while pushing for market changes, technological innovation alone does not have the power to disrupt. Any technology needs people. It needs consumers, to adopt and use it en-masse. To date, all technological innovations in the fashion industry did not disrupt but instead enhanced it. To disrupt the fashion industry, we need products, markets, and services unseen before.
The global fashion market is a multi-trillion business with massive potential for disruption. The fast adoption of sustainable, innovative materials, the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence in fashion designs, style predictions, and retail, shows that the landscape is ripe for disruptive innovation.
Disruptive Innovation – But What To Disrupt?
The industry of apparel and accessories sees constant changes as it is in its nature to be fashionable, to remain trendy. However, let’s not confuse style and fashion changes with disruptive innovation. By redesigning a jacket, you are not disrupting an industry. By bestowing garments with smart sensors and wearable technology, you are not disrupting but rather improve the garment. You are not creating a “new fashtech industry that will run in parallel with the ‘traditional’ fashion industry”, but rather participate in the augmentation of the overall apparel industry and the evolution of the global fashion landscape.
Thus, you become an active participant in the process of maintaining its fashionable nature by keeping up with the times and consumers’ demand. You help it grow; you enhance it.
According to Statista, the global fashion market is expected to reach $3.4 trillion by 2020. Just like food, everybody needs clothes; it is something that we all need every day. The question is, what will you do to disrupt the fashion industry? Moreover, what do you intend to disrupt? Products? Services?
Disruptive Innovation – The Uber of fashion
As the Internet-based fashion commerce is growing, its share of the market against the classic retail stores, consumers’ expectations are also changing. This is your chance to rethink what the future fashion store will look like. Online? Offline? Channel convergence? Mixed reality? What about the tactile feedback?
Also, around the world, more fashion consumers are asking for a smarter use of resources and reduction in the emission of pollutants, requiring companies to create more sustainable products, from environmentally-friendly materials. Is your startup designing a new type of sustainable material that replaces cotton, leather, and plastic while retaining their physical properties? Then you’re on the cusp of disruptive innovation.
However, while the required technology is already here, the fashion industry is still waiting for that disruptive innovation to reshape it. Do we go for renting luxury, subscription boxes or wait to see if cheap 3D printing technologies mark a boom in crowdsourced fashion? Is your startup the next Uber for the fashion industry? Let’s see what you’ve got!