Clothing: a billion-dollar industry. We all wear clothes, whether you’ve an ounce of fashion sense in your body or not. If sartorial trends aren’t your thing, you may not have noticed that it’s an industry moving fast with the digital age. In fact, fashion’s evolution is positively pelting down the catwalk.
IoT (the internet of threads)
Yes, apparel is getting an upgrade. But how? Firstly, by actively embracing the very technology that retailers still view as a threat to the traditional high street. Online clothes shopping is a huge business, the popularity of digital retailers burgeoning in the last few years ahead of their bricks and mortar rivals. Yet online clothes shopping can be fraught with problems. Without the physical immediacy of being able to try on clothes, shoppers can be left a little in the dark with fitting, feel and, crucially, how they’ll look wearing them.
Suits you, Siri
Retailers and designers have tried to compensate virtually for this by creating apps such as Polyvore and Try. They’re responsive programs that get as close as possible to having shopping pals in the palm of your hand. Intuitive software that makes suggestions and virtually dresses you, they’re a time-friendly saving on shoe leather that lets you browse everything from the comfort of your smartphone. Using 3D modelling, they employ augmented reality to realise imagery that lets the consumer know how they’ll look trying on clothes. It’s the nearest thing a smartphone has to a changing room.
That’s just existing fashion designs however. The next generation of smartly-dressed smartphone users are making fashion more personal. In an age where bespoke is en vogue, personalised patterning is the next thing in your wardrobe. With apps such as Screenshop (where users seek out designs they’ve either seen or created) or MTailor, offering personalised design using only your phone’s camera, the drive is towards boutique and unique that’s quite literally tailored to the customer.
The virtual Versace
Facing challenges not just from consumers themselves, fashion designers are also looking at stiff competition from their virtual colleagues. Google have brought code to the catwalk, with an experiment that has seen the tech giant attempt to create clothing using complex computer programming. Named Project Muze, the idea was to use a software package that could craft personalised clothing and styles. The program compiled the data of 600 fashionistas. This information provides the basis for a formula that calculates the perfect fashions based on variables given by the end user (based on likes/dislikes/moods etc.).
Highly personalised fashion laser-targeted to the individual and unlikely to be found anywhere else. Colours, patterns, fabrics, designs – each are assigned specifically to the person in question.
Hey – nobody wants to find themselves at a party dressed the same as another guest. With Project Muze’s exceptionally unique coding, Google just drastically lessened those odds.
London, Paris, new attitude
E-commerce is the driving force behind this sea change. Stores such as Etsy and Redbubble have exploited the demand for niche fashions and ultra-personalised interests. It’s now easier than ever before for independent designers to create and manufacture clothing at a low production rate. 3D printed catwalk-ready clobber has also brought the perceived exclusivity of the industry crashing down. Suppliers don’t have to produce thousands of items in bulk to turn a profit. On the contrary, there are now millions of designs, with fewer productions.
Formerly, fashion bent to the whim of designers. Thanks to the personalised ethos of the smart generation, the adherence to that authority now stands a little less rigidly.