Saturday, March 12, 2016

Digital Revolution: Fashion & Technology

It’s no surprise that our generation is heavily influenced by technology; from MacBooks to smart TVs, we are constantly surrounded by, and live in a world driven digitally. The fashion industry has seen tremendous leaps of innovation, from 3D printing; wearable technology, and virtual reality, fashion has become a common denominator amongst these innovations.  Business practices, consumer behaviour, and innovations have all been impacted by the developing relationship between fashion and technology. The landscape is constantly changing, and the traditional relationship between brands and consumers has evolved to take part in this game changing digital revolution.

Down to Business
There’s not denying that technology and the Internet has changed the fashion landscape. The rise of e-commerce and the need for digital and social media marketing speaks volumes already. The focus on digital is related to the changes in buying behaviour we see. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm that predicts that in the next ten years, the share of luxury sales online will triple. Going digital is an adaptive mechanism for as consumers enjoy shopping in the comforts of their own home
Increased number of touch points between brands and consumers means brands have more opportunities to generate sales via these interactions. The media landscape consists of a variety of platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, e-commerce sites, and much more. Brands are utilizing these platforms to cultivate their brand personality and to develop a reciprocal relationship with customers to increase engagement levels, ultimately to generate sales in the long run.  This new digital marketing model changes how brands communicate with their customers, forcing them to embrace this unpredictable playing field. The digital influence has opened many doors of opportunity to brands but at the same time, it’s given them more work and has placed them in an arena of intense competition. With consumer tastes continuously changing, how long is this game of catch up going to take?

Revolutionizing the Shopping Experience
Technology is making headlines in changing the overall shopping experience, and we’re not just talking about online shopping here. In addition to the virtual reality developments, companies are looking into a virtual change room experience.
Toshiba for one, has developed a ‘digital changing booth’ that allows customers to virtually try on clothes. This is done through a 3D scanner and camera that analyzes the customer’s body and then clothes are then sized to fit the customer. Additional apps can also be used in conjunction to allow customers to mix and match outfits and to place an order. It’s amazing to see how far technology has come to deliver such experiences that not only change consumer behaviour and way of shopping, but also positively affects sales for a company.
Another venture into digital changing rooms involves interactive mirrors. Rebecca Minkoff and eBay teamed up by opening a store in New York that merges online and physical shopping. The mirrors in the change rooms show videos, inspirational content, and allows for interaction with sales associates. Customers are provided with a touch screen that allows them to access a catalog and select which items they want in their dressing room.  The customer then provides their cell phone number and they receive a text when their fitting room is ready. The mirror in the dressing room recognizes the items in the dressing room and it displays the different clothing on the screen. Technology is used to help customers have a more engaging shopping experience, utilizing all aspects of a brand in the space of a changing room.
Overall, these technological enhancements are definitely changing consumer behaviour by merging online and physical shopping. In-store experience can be transformed digitally to offer consumers a well-rounded experience. The growth of technology is altering the taste and expectations of consumers. To please an average consumer is going to take more work and research these days.

Fashion Technology
Fashion and technology are progressively colliding and this includes the merchandise brands are developing. The infamous Apple watch is a great example of fusing fashion and technology. It’s essentially a fashion statement, made up of luxury materials and the latest technology. People wear technologically enhanced devices to look good and to portray an image of who they are. One step up from that is the pairing of Apple and Hermes for the Apple watch. One may think it’s an odd pairing – heritage and tradition mixed with innovative technology, but this marriage works and has helped set an example of a luxury brand’s role with modern technology.
Apple and Hermes are not the only two players in this game.  Many brands such as Rebecca Minkoff, Tory Burch, and Kate Spade have also taken a seat at this table and have dealt their cards right. There are many brands that have delved into the wearable technology market by offering either fashionable add ons to popular gadgets or by developing products that function to work with the existing gadgets in ones daily life. Technology can be integrated into our lives in products that don’t’ resemble gadgets at all. From having a charging station inside a purse, to a bracelet to has dual function as a charger, it’s evident that technology has invaded the fashion space to deliver products that are fashionable yet functional.  

It’s clear that fashion and technology are on a path of evolution together. Both players have impacted each other in ways that have revolutionized the way businesses operate, the way consumers shop, and the innovation of products. The digital revolution has only begun and there is so much more potential for both parties. It’s an exciting time to witness how the relationship between fashion and technology is changing and influencing one another and as consumers, we have the opportunity to take a seat in the front row and enjoy the ride.

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