by Rebecca Golub
Photography courtesy of Tanya James
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered in fashion, and it starts with tech. Founder of Fashion Tech Week New York and The Global Fashion Technology Federation, Tanya James and CEO and Founder of Style AI, Sherry Soliman, see the future of fashion. They are starting to exploit the endless possibilities of converging technology and fashion.
From the beginning, the main platform for fashion tech has been the traditional fashion industry. Now “fashion is a new interface in technology,” said James, and through the process of learning how technologies are helpful in fashion design, they can also serve other purposes. After all, “data [has become scientific fashion]” said James. By using data, designers and buyers can make well-researched and informed decisions by wasting less time, money and energy on behalf of their brands and stores.
Now, retail can be truly boiled down to a science. The general consumer in today’s world is an ‘on-demand consumer,’ meaning that people know what, where, and how they want their products. James said, “Shopping is going to be on-demand, customized and personalized,” and those retailers that survive five years from now will do so because they already understand that concept. Soliman shares that perspective, so he created the Style AI app—an augmented shopping platform that customizes the consumer’s look options with their previous style preferences (still in its prototype stage in China).
According to James, consumers also need to be able to understand a retailer’s story to feel connected to it, and “that’s where retail is missing the digital age.” If a retailer can tell its manufacturing and consumer-type story to its consumers as they shop, he or she is succeeding. In the end, “Education is important to the tech age, and creating a personalized experience will win the day,” she said.
Nonetheless, America’s workforce is lacking education of the latest skills such as software usage and coding techniques, which are vital for any legit tech industries today (fashion or other). This is an issue because as the rest of the world economy progresses, America continues to fall further behind since many leaders do not see the value in tech investments. To align with the contemporary economy that the rest of the world is moving toward, the United States must recognize the utmost importance of technology in our country’s economic success.
“I really believe that augment and virtual reality is going to play a huge role going forward,” said James. “I can especially see retailers and designers learning how to use these technologies in their marketing campaigns.” Soliman is already integrating image recognition and data analytics into her Style AI app to further the ultimate customized shopping experience.
Fashion enthusiasts like Megan Yang, a 21-year-old student, are flocking to brands like Rebecca Minkoff who have already installed interactive outfitting mirrors into their stores.
“I love how personalized my experience is at stores with this kind of technology,” said Yang. “Nothing about shopping feels like a burden anymore.”
Now, the question is: Will the rest of the fashion industry latch onto the tech savvy train and continue to advance along with new discoveries? Only time will tell.