Fashion was dealt a hard blow in 2020; with disruptions to supply chains, of course lockdowns, and changes in customer demand. We are seeing fashion brands and retailers engage more and more with digital technology, as well as rethink their approach to sustainability and building responsible businesses. At Retail Connected we will be highlighting three businesses that are leading in some of the below areas of innovation within fashion, and who are helping retailers build for the future.

  1. Material innovation – Brands have a huge opportunity to create more sustainable, fit-for-purpose products by innovating the materials they use. There are a few businesses that are creating innovative leathers from highly renewable sources, for example Bolt Threads, who work with the likes of LVMH and Stella Mccartney and create leather from mushroom and silk harnessed from proteins found in spider webs.
  2. 3D Printing – 3d printing has been around for a long time already, and we’ve seen it being used by Nike, Adidas and New Balance products. Although its use is still fairly nascent within the industry, and the main use-cases of large scale brands using it has been fairly limited to trainers, we are beginning to see fashion designers such as Danit Peleg use this technology to create clothing, at scale. 3d printing could really revolutionise fashion brands’ supply chains, providing them the opportunity to produce clothing closer to market and produce clothing in direct response to demand, thus reducing overall production waste and cost.
  3. AI – Artificial intelligence is being used by brands to analyse their customers’ tastes and preferences, in order to feed to them appropriate products, as well as enable them to plan more effectively for the future. Brands such as Burberry are also using AI to power chatbots, to communicate with them and invite them to view virtual runway shows and shop the new collection, all from their devices. AI in general is still in a very nascent stage, and it will be very interesting to see how this develops, and the opportunities it creates.
  4. AR – Brands such as Gucci are using augmented reality to allow their customers to envisage their trainers on their feet, and helping them make more informed online purchasing decisions. Other brands such as Nike are using it to help their customers make decisions about trainer personalisation. Again, while this technology is still fairly nascent, it will be interesting to see more and more brands embrace this as they tighten their digital commerce propositions.
  5. Digital Clothing – We’re increasingly seeing the gaming world and the fashion world blend into one another; with innovative brands like Balenciaga and Gucci embracing digital technologies and using it to create new ways to speak to their customers and market their products. The Fabricant is another player which is helping brands achieve this, as well as creating digital clothing that can be used and traded in virtual realities. Retailers such as Scandinavian brand Carling are also creating their own digital clothing collections, which have proven to be a smash success with their customers.
  6. Ecommerce 2.0 – Brands that are able to connect with their customers digitally, and offer a frictionless online experience will be the ones that will win in the future. Using technologies like live streaming to sell their products, and using social media channels to connect and sell to their customers where they are, are becoming vital for fashion businesses now. Other technologies such as Bigthinx’s 3d body mapping technology are also helping retailers offer smoother ecommerce services to their customers.

There are lots of exciting work going on behind the scenes; and much more still to come, as the fashion industry evolves to meet its customers demands. We are very happy to be putting some of these amazing businesses mentioned here on our Retail Connected programme, and we look forward to you joining us to learn more from them on how they are forging the future of fashion.