Every brand and retailer out there seems to be looking for the goose that lay the golden eggs when it comes to wearable technology. In 2015, Levi’s and Google partnered for weaving technology into fabric with Project Jacquard, a digital sensing textile that combines a tactile, fully integrated and woven interface with digital applications to enhance specific consumer experiences.
Topshop is the latest fashion label to explore the possibilities of affordable, tech-infused clothing and accessories with Top Pitch, a new mentoring program targeting start-up businesses to discover and co-develop innovative prototypes that push forward this field. Run in cooperation with corporate innovation specialist L Marks, Top Pitch will offer a four-week bootcamp to an undefined number of start-ups, which culminates in a presentation to Arcadia owner Sir Philip Green. Three mentors will yield support and guidance to the participants: Rachel Arthur, journalist and founder of news portal Fashion & Mash; Maddy Evans, Topshop’s fashion director and Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO at UK technology start-up Technology Will Save Us. The most promising team will be awarded the chance to secure equity investment and potential to see their product in Topshop stores in the future. “Our aim is to discover new-to-market, highly desirable product at accessible prices for our fashion-savvy customer,” said Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director of Topshop.
Certainly, British retailers are turning towards untapped young businesses’ ideas. Asos launched a partnership with Wayra UK recently to find mature start-ups with proven track record, which are asked to submit tech proposals that can make the online retailer experience even better for its eleven million customers around the world. In exchange, the start-ups might be offered direct investment, coach mentoring and office space within Wayra UK’s academy in Central London for a period of eight months.