I had the occasion to attend, for the second time, the #FASHIONTECH Berlin, which is a whole-day conference and exhibition at the fringes of the Berlin Fashion Week. The event, organised by the Premium Group, continues to grow. Berlin seems like the right soil for it: it’s a place where tech start-ups mix with designers and artists. This is really the business model of FashionTech: bringing two established industries together and encouraging them to do something totally new. The presence of hot spots like Elektrocouture, a fashion technology house that supports companies entering the industry, is definitely an advantage ( to learn more about Elektrocouture watch the new EuroNews video: http://www.euronews.com/2017/01/27/why-the-fashion-tech-business-model-is-taking-europe-by-storm
Another strength of the initiative is that it managed to involve some big German companies such as Deutsche Telekom and Adidas (if you want to know more see my article on why tech companies are interested in fashion).For this reason #FASHIONTECH Berlin coincided also with the anouncement of the winners of Telekom Fashion Fusion competition. Sponsored by Deutsche Telekom and with the involvement of companies such as Intel, Osram and Forster Rohner, Fashion Fusion gave 12 artists, startups and designers an opportunity do put their ideas into practice.
The conference gathered a number of inspiring speakers focusing on wearables & smart textiles, e-commerce & retail and digital marketing & communication. Here are my highlights:
“The digital revolution forces us to rethink garments, textiles and the fashion industry as a whole”
The conference was kicked off by Jasna Rokogen, visionary founder of the studio Jasna Rok (http://www.jasnarok.com/). The studio explores and implements the latest research and innovation in the field of wearables, sensors, robotics, and electronics, combining these with futuristic haute couture and high-end design. Jasna Rok showed clothes from the Fashion on Brainwaves collection that can adapt and change colour and form according to wearer’s emotions. According to Jasna, digital technologies should also be used more to showcase collections and simplify production processes. Collections could be viewed in augmented reality or even using interactive holograms which eliminate the need for various headset devices.
Trina Watts of Watt Knowledge took a smartphone as example and explained how personalisation, which is the key element of its success can be applied in wearables. Currently all smart bracelets and other devices are pretty much the same, with a pre-selected number of functions, while smartphones are very personal: users have their favourite pictures, apps, sounds and so on. According to Trina, personalisation has to be seen through five senses, namely sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Clearly the last two senses are the most difficult to tap into.
“Data is the oil of the 21st century”
According to Prof. Marc Druner of Trommsdorff+Drunner, companies that will not own and understand the end-consumer data will die. The recipe is simple, just gather the data wherever you can, put some algorithms on it and as a result you will get some interesting propositions for end consumers. What if you don’t know where to start? The good thing is you don’t have to invent everything yourself, just ‘copy-paste’ from the other successful industries such as insurance or automotive. You have to put end-consumer in the centre of everything you do and organise your data and processes accordingly. You also have to watch who is your competitor. It’s no longer just competition inside the fashion industry or inside the automotive industry. It’s fashion versus tech, it’s cars versus tech, the really interesting stuff is coming from outside of your traditionally-defined industry.
Anna Rojahn, founder and managing director of Fast Forward Imagining explained the retail evolution from offline to online, then to mobile and finally to virtual and augmented reality, which offer huge opportunities for fashion brands. The technology already exists but each brand has to find the right application: storytelling, presenting products in a new way, in a new space or even in a non-existing, fantasy environment. Studies show that the consumers experience of VR and AR is very positive (see more in my blogpost on the VR in fashion). Anna explained that the technology is constantly evolving and we are still largely in its first phase where we can view it through smartphones and tablets. The second phase, namely AR headsets, is under development. What may happen beyond headsets is a bit scary: there are already technologies that make possible development of AR capable contact lenses or projecting holograms straight into your eyeball!
If you are interested in all of the presentations you can watch them on a dedicated #FASHIONTECH YouTube channel. Below you can see some of the creations exhibited at #FASHIONTECH.