On the Intersection: Tech, Fashion & Design

General Assembly, LY:London and Eventbrite had organised a great event last night. How to Create Memorable Fashion Experiences.

It presented an amazing fashion industry panel consisting of:

+ Emma Watkinson, Founder of Silkfred.com (@emma_silkfred)

+ Lauren Stevenson, Co-Founder of Aisle 8 (@LStevensonPR | @Aisle8Comms)

+ Victoria Chang, Founder fo Style Barista, (@StyleBarista)

+ Sarah Walter, CCO of Metail, (@Metail)

+ Craig Crawford, VP Luxury Retail Strategy at Somo, (@getamobilelife / @somoglobal)

Not to forget the great venue provided by Lyst, Hoxton Square – right at the heart of Tech City. It was a must-go-to event even only for

the crowd of designers, fashionistas, design enthusiast, techies or simply us London commoners wanting to add more flavour to a Thursday evening

– a crowd ostensibly different, unique, opinionated and independent. A crowd most probably not there for the free drinks only. Yet, Sipsmith’s G&T did play its bit in this one as well.

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Shutterstock Image

Why did I go?

Having insights from different industries can prove more than just valuable. Hearing the stories and seeing the insides of a world you do not have any friction with whatsoever can not only add value to any product or service within your own industry but can expand your vision beyond the confines of your often times limited box.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes has put it:

‘A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions’

Let’s dive in.

—-

Technology has indeed changed the way the fashion game is played with e-commerce taking the place of traditional retail, Instagram becoming your go to fashion magazine and small brands for the first time being able to have widespread exposure, hack growth and engage the masses only via a superb website and an effective, authentic, engaging social media strategy.   Yet, technology does not exist for technology’s sake.

The gist of the evening?

In the interaction between enterprise, fashion& design technology is simply an enabler.

The event touched upon the subject of e-commerce – how the issues within the industry span beyond the increasingly higher return rates and on the need to re-educate consumers to have confidence in their initial purchases.   It is exactly what Metail, the Virtual Fitting Room Startup, does – it offers fitting room technology to the big players in the field thus successfully driving return rates down and customer satisfaction up.

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Metail, the first UK- based virtual fitting room Startup. Image via sixteen-nine.net

A brand which has allegedly managed to increase its online sales by 44% accounting for a quarter of all group sales in 2013 was John Lewis. It has managed to do so through investment in PPC to secure traffic, having product pages with comprehensive product descriptions, customer reviews, a single high resolution image, non-obstructive call to action, seamless checkout experience, click and collect options and investments in its mobile experience back in 2010. Are there any other hot trends in what appears to be already a vast field? Adding pop-up shops to your e-commerce business as Marc Jacobs did with a Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop where transactions are based only on Tweets with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain.

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Daisy by Marc Jacobs. Image via http://www.nowmagazine.co.uk

The wholeness of the experience was another topic picked by the panel. Even though technology is recognised both by the small and the big it is only in the minority of cases used to the best of its ability. Simplying having a website or social media presence can hardly work wonders anymore. It is the overall experience across all channels and the connections, interactions and conversations with your followers that matter. Brands have to deliver on objectives, talk and listen to the consumer and design 360° campaigns, both off and online

An example of fully immersive, seamless experience? The first car showroom of the purely electric Tesla Model S in Westfield Showroom London, Shepherds Bush – sustainability, technology & the complete lack of aggressive sales techniques with test drives available in  the 1,850 sq  ft outlet. Priceless, except for a price tag of £49,900.

Any exceptions confirming the multi-channel rule? Tiffany’s successful one channel advertising campaign on Pinterest and a handful of businesses purely launching in Instagram.

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Tiffany’s Ad. Image via http://www.kateforrester.co.uk

Before the onslaught of technology Tom Ford who was appointed as the Gucci’s creative director in 1994 was capable of finding the true story behind the Gucci brand and make it what it is today during his reign from 1994 until 2004 first a creative designer and later as a head designer. In the wake of rumours around his return to Gucci following the departure of Frida Gianni from the Italian fashion house it is technology that can enable him to return the brand to its former glory.

Indeed, technology is singled out as the brand’s way to reveal its true, innermost story.

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Image via wiki.wildberries.ru

The public also raised a few good questions.

3D Printing, the cutting edge technology which will be able to provide you with everything from an espresso coffee cup, a fully functional liver or a city, has also entered the world of fashion.

Having started as a way for brands use 3D printing to prototype and test out their ideas it was in 2013 when Francis Bitonti designed a 3D printed dress for Dita von Teese thus pushing the boundaries of what was once considered possible within fashion. From being considered a ludicrous endeavour in 2007 3D printing is now the talk of the town.

It will not be long before we are able to custom design our own pieces, celebrating our uniqueness, building on the claim of authenticity.

continuum-3d-printed-shoes-6

Fashion, sustainability and the interplay of the two were raised following a question on sustainable and ethical start-up for an African fashion label.

The Eden Project, the Greenhouse Biodome Complex nested in Cornwall, UK mimicking natural biomes, has started to offer organic, eco-fashion labels and ethnic jewellery in its Eden Project Shop.

Plug in, do the ground work and use digital to also create offline experiences was the advice given. And yes – Africa is to happen fashion-wise.

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The Eden Project. Image via news.bbc.co.uk

If you are an online store the advice the panel had was indeed sound – allow users to freely download your high resolution photos, there isn’t a blogger out there that you would not like to share your labels.  See how the big ones do it and copy, copy, copy – they have had the resources to explore, implement and keep on track of up and coming trends and industry insights. Research the market and do not underestimate the power of social media as a research tool.

Be genuine about what you are, see where the gaps and actual needs are  and ultimately – establish partnerships with hotel groups mentioned as one of the most reliable and lucrative partners you can use  to promote your product.

The advice given at parting was to be authentic and do what you know best. Lots of snippets to tease the imagination and spark our interest in what is yet to come – in this industry and in many others.

An event first of its kind and, judging by the turnout rate, not to be the last one.

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