London based PR agency Village gathered the industry in Camden last week to explore the ever-progressing relationship between fashion and technology. The event marked the first “Creative Futures by Village” outing. The four participating panelists were: Francesca Rosella, chief creative director of wearable tech company Cute Circuits; Brooke Roberts-Islam of Brooke Roberts Innovation Agency; Ishwari Thopte, head of fashion tech, Centre for Fashion Enterprise; and Golan Frydman, creative director at Fashion label Fyodor Golan.

 

Here, some of the opinions and insights voiced during the course of what was a fascinating evening:

 

On tech as a tool to revolutionize fashion:

Tech has made fashion more democratic, giving consumers the chance to interact with what designers do, allowing them to play round with garments virtually, trying them on or changing colors. This way, they’ll get deeper into the experience and we designers are able to create our own worlds, communicating what we’re all about. Golan Frydman

Tech and social media enhance and speed up communication, and this in turn changes the design cycle – people consume fashion faster these days and they may experience fatigue as a result. With this in mind, we at Cute Circuit have created garments that change color and print, allowing consumers to update their look easily. Francesca Rosella  

 

Fashion tech at its best:

An example of good fashion tech is the Nike Flyknit trainers. It uses amazing engineering in digital knitting technology to create trainers that are seamless, fit perfectly and are made simply with two components rather than 25 parts created in ten different factories all over the world. Fashion tech seems to be more successful where it’s hidden. Brooke Roberts-Islam  

 

On Augmented Reality versus Virtual Reality:

We at Cute Circuit are big fans of AR for the simple reason that it encourages you to step out into the real world, experiencing things in a new way with other people around you. VR, meanwhile, requires you to sit on a sofa with goggles on – that’s not a lifestyle that should be encouraged, we believe. I like the physical touch that AR can provide, even via clothing. For me, VR is not physical enough. Francesca Rosella

AR will probably take over in a bigger way in our everyday life and within retail, but I think VR has an equally amazing future. When I visit an art gallery, I don’t want to be hugged or touched: in fact, I’d rather be on my own, standing in front of an Anish Kapoor, virtually melting into it. VR has the expressive power to transport you to a new environment – it creates an amazing space for you to loose yourself in. Golan Frydman

VR is about immersive experiences while AR is about interaction. AR will grow rapidly within retail as it enhances tactile experiences. Ishwani Thopte

 

On tech in relation to data:

I can see that the clothing industry will benefit hugely from data developments as it tells you whether red jumpers sold better than blue ones. But there’s a huge difference between commercial clothing manufacturers and makers of actual fashion. Young creative designers work intuitively, aiming to break boundaries and constantly surprise consumers with new ideas. In this sense, it’s important to steer clear of data as that defeats this very subject. Golan Frydman

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, and more than half of fast fashion ends up in landfill. Data helps us analyze what’s made versus what actually sold; it can help us solve problems. Brooke Roberts-Islam

 

On UK’s tech industry post Brexit:

UK has been the center for tech innovation in recent years, attracting international innovators from all over the world. Grants have been handed out to boost this thriving industry; everyone wanted to come here. Now, due to Brexit, there’s a risk that we’ll see the UK tech industry sliding as innovators from the European economic area, where a substantial part of the new generation of tech talent come from, and may find it harder and less attractive to come here. Francesca Rosella

 

Keep pushing…

New technology is exactly that – new. It’s new for everyone and it’s down to the younger generation to experiment, take risks and allow for mistakes to happen. At least then we’ll put something new out there. At Fyodor Golan, we’ve spent years playing round with the tech industry, thus marrying two industries that aren’t necessarily a natural match. It’s important that both parties stick to what they believe in; the programmer might say that your idea as a designer, or vice verse, is impossible – but a lot of ideas seemed impossible before they were executed. If you let the other party speak and listen carefully, you might well discover a trick you never thought imaginable. Golan Frydman

Fashion is a very traditional sector if you compare it to other businesses. Things take a long time to change. Only in the last few years, with the rise of the likes of Farfetch and Net-a-Porter, have things started happening – finally, fashion and tech feels like a natural match. Before that, no one wanted to be the first to step in a new tech-y direction. The industry was stuck for a while but now we’re progressing quickly. Ishwani Thopte

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