With time, technology has become an integral part of the fashion world. Today, just like every other sector, technology has given solutions to various serious problems of the fashion industry, like counterfeit, transparency, reducing market time, etc. Technologies like NFC tags, blockchain, 3D prototyping and wearable tech among others are playing a huge role in the fashion retail, leading the industry to the next level.
Here are some latest next generation technologies that are set to revolutionise and support the fashion industry for a brighter future…
CuteCircuit – Smart fabric for interactive fashion
CuteCircuit, founded in 2004 in the United Kingdom, is a wearable technology fashion brand. “When we initially started, not much was known about the technology; therefore, one of the many challenges that we had to overcome was to create new materials in the garments. Development of smart fabric and material was one of the biggest challenges,” said Francesca Rosella, Co-founder and Chief Creative Director, CuteCircuit.
Its offerings include SoundShirt, Hug Shirt, Interactive Fashion (Haute Couture), Ready-to-Wear and a number of projects done in collaboration with different companies. Since social distancing is the new normal for us, the Hug Shirt lets the wearer send hugs over distance. Embedded in these shirts are the actuators that recreate the sensation of touch and the emotion of a hug to the Hug Shirt of a distant loved one.
The wearer is required to have the Hug Shirt App downloaded in their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. The app understands what the sensors are communicating and delivers it to another Hug Shirt and the phone. It’s not important for both the persons to have the shirt; even the person who does not have the garment can still send hugs to the other person who has the shirt, using the mobile application. “The reason we are doing this is that we think that this kind of technology not only connects people, but also makes fashion more sustainable,” said Francesca. For the development of these shirts, there are no wires used; it’s only the smart textiles like woven conductive textiles that empower the garments to perform extraordinary functions.
Some other projects done by the company in collaboration are Mercedes Pilot Suit, Converse the All Wah collection, which brought a new level of freedom to guitar playing. The company also designed sensor-enhanced futuristic uniforms for cabin crew and ground-crew for the British airline EasyJet for its 20th anniversary.
Aulera Authentication – Protection against counterfeit goods and grey market
In order to help brands and retailers in protection against the counterfeit of their products, the company Aulera Authentication is extending support through NFC technology, which works on NFC devices that communicate with each other via radio waves.
Using the technology, the company is helping retailers to eliminate counterfeit, control gray market and engage with customers. The retailers can use this technology to provide authenticity of products that consumers are investing in. Each product is embedded with NFC tags that contain the information in their chip. The customers using their NFC-enabled smart phones can tap the products and get the complete information about it like origin, date of manufacturing, raw material used, brand authenticity, etc. on their mobile phones.
Another application of the technology is the control on gray market. One of the drawbacks of the online retailing is that many unscrupulous wholesalers and retailers are selling goods through unauthorised channels while remaining anonymous. The retailers using the technology can trace these unauthorised vendors, allowing them to take direct actions. The technology automatically detects diverted products as customers authenticate physical purchase outside of the intended geomarket.
Moreover, the solution also helps brands in engaging the customers with brands, therefore converting them into loyal customers. The brands can engage customers through phones with individualised product origin stories, product care instructions, personalised promotions, automatic product registrations, etc.
Also Read: Tech-enabled resilience and future retail
Lablaco – Making fashion circular
The application of blockchain has initially helped the retailers in communicating their sustainable efforts to the customers, and now it is extending its application to the resale market. Lablaco is a retail platform, helping brands and retailers to tokenise products at any level of the supply chain. “We are helping trace the individual journey from the manufacturers to brands and retailers. We have a consumer app called Spin and the enterprise part called LPLUS which is a merchandise system focused on circular economy and tokenisation of blockchain,” said Lorenzo Albright, Co-CEO and Founder, Lablaco.
Spin is a consumer app that helps the users list and tokenise pre-owned products with traceable digital ownership across circular models like share, borrow, swap and trade back to the brand. Using the platform, one can purchase the wearable worn by influencers or sold by sellers, donate it to the private users and give one or more of the wearable owned by a user, which may be new or second hand, to other private users, etc. The platform also allows making direct payments with the use of online applications. The users can post and share content on their accounts directly or communicate with other users.
The other product is LPLUS, a Circular-Retail-as-a-Service (CRaaS) platform for brands and retailers that allows tokenising the products on blockchain. The application helps in tracing information like product origin, authenticity, environmental impact and customer ownership over the entire product lifecycle.
Ditto Africa – Content driven and curated marketplace
Ditto Africa is a mobile marketplace platform where the top African brands sell their merchandise to the local and global consumers. “My goal for Ditto Africa was to create a platform where you can shop the top brands from Africa, whether it’s apparel, home goods or shoes. The idea was to give the global customers the access to the African brand and also an easy access to the African customers, which is a growing base to shop for their favourite brands,” said Ayaan Mohallim, Co-founder, Ditto Africa.
The brand, when creating content, works with local people including the models, photographers, etc. This is to help the brands share the narratives with their own perspectives. The company, headquartered in New York, acts as a one-shop destination for customers to get access to various brands and designers to choose from.
To manage such a wide network of brands and reduce the market time, the brand is leveraging the use of technologies like 3D and AR. In order to reduce their market time, it is now moving towards 3D designs to become more sustainable using the make-to-order model for 3D sampling. Moreover, soon it will have technologies like AR and VR integrated to enhance the shopping experience and help the global customers find garments in their right size. The technology will also include try-on, allowing customers to try on different clothes that fit their size.