Fashion technology predictions 2016 – 2020. Technology is permeating, transforming and digitising the physical world around us. In the fashion industry, new developments in nanotechnology, smart fabrics, 3D printing and sustainable materials are totally transforming the landscape; manufacturers, supply chains, retailers, distributors, goods and consumers.
Tech giants are seeking to seize the opportunity, pushing for partnerships with fashion and luxury brands, offering their expertise, tools, and platforms hoping to reignite their dated business models. Intel, for example, through active participation in the fashion technology landscape, has revived its – once famous – motto, “Intel Inside.” This time, inside smartwatches and wearables, rather than desktops and laptops.
Similarly, Apple is slowly pushing the ‘fashion’ agenda. First with their revolutionary smartphone (iPhone) and then again, even more pronounced, with the Apple Watch. The Cupertino giant is nowadays perceived by the millennial consumer as a fashion trendsetter.
Fashion Technology – Augmenting Fashion
Moving on with the predictions, back in Jan 2015 I pointed to Fossil’s growing interest in wearable tech and predicted the company’s intention of buying a wearable tech company. Soon after, the American fashion brand – launched in 1984 and since an international leader in clothing, small leather goods and fashion accessories – acquired Misfit for $260 million as announced by Sonny Vu, the CEO of Misfit.
Misfit’s acquisition aligns with Fossils’ recent launch of a new line of connected accessories. Dubbed the Q-Line, this fashionable line of smartwatches is Fossil’s first collaboration with the tech giant Intel.
Fossil’s extensive knowledge in fashion combined with Misfit’s expertise in wearable technology allows the American company to keep up with the trends and cater for a new type of emerging consumer. Moreover, the merger gives Fossil access to Misfit’s customer database, consumers of wearable technology and interested in fashion.
Following the trend above, more fashion and luxury brands will take note that wearable technology is poised to become an intrinsic part of both, the fashion and luxury markets by augmenting and customising garments and accessories with extra layers of functionality that appeal to the tech-savvy consumers.
Fashion Technology – Partnerships, The Way Forward
1. Initially, the interest will be unidirectional. Tech companies fast learning from fashion and luxury brands, targeting their human capital for their knowledge and experience in the field. In fact, Apple has been hiring luxury and fashion experts since 2011, from Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, and more recent Tag Heuer.
2. Starting 2016, two French giants in fashion, LVMH and Kering Group will start the wearable tech race under the ‘sustainable’ fashion umbrella. A war of investments and acquisitions with the aim of producing alternatives to animal-based raw materials and infuse them with tech for the smart textiles of tomorrow.
3. At the same time, the development in AI and chatbots will intensify as more fashion and luxury brands will seek help in technology for predicting future fashion trends and filter through their consumers’ vast amounts of data. Also a race of adopting, adapting, and implementing AR technology – which will reshape the physical stores of tomorrow and the way we consume online – will commence.
Fashion Technology – Accelerated Investments
4. A war for online supremacy will start between the established e-commerce fashion merchants such as Asos and Net-A-Porter and tech companies with massive financial and technological resources such as Amazon and Alibaba.
5. Fashion groups will start investing in fashion technology companies. Today’s acquisitions and prices such as Moda Operandi – $46 million, Nasty Gal – $49 million, ShoeDazzle – $66 million, BeachMint – $75 million, Gilt Groupe – $236 million will make you smile in 2020.
Fashion Technology – Back To Normality
6. More retailers will start redesigning their stores converting them into experiential tech hubs where consumers can buy not only the ‘latest season’ top but also smart garments and connected accessories, branded as ‘made by’ Kate Spade, Armani, or Michael Kors.
7. Finally, the adoption of blockchain based technologies will revolutionise both luxury and fashion markets. Manufacturing, supply chains, advertising, promoting, selling. Expect profound changes involving online, offline, retail stores, department stores, social media, e-commerce platforms, augmented and virtual reality.