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DIGITAL REFASHIONING:HOW TECH IS TAKING ON FASHION

by Lynn Mongameli

Lynn Mongameli takes a deep dive into the 2022 technology trends that are impacting the world of fashion.

Technology is revolutionising our world. With the proliferation of emerging technologies, industries are taking full advantage of the impactful power technology can have, and fashion, like the rest of the business world, is fully invested. As one of the largest industries in the world, the global fashion industry has often been at the forefront of innovation, and like the growing technology industry, fashion has always been forward-looking with future-driven consumer-focused adoptions that continuously shape and reshape the fashion industry as we know it.

The intersection of fashion and technology is ever narrowing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the industry to embrace a faster digital transformation. Exploring opportunities to create new markets and open up more revenue streams, fashion makers are turning to tech providers and start-ups to make technological developments that have become the name of the game in 2022. With digital innovations like virtual clothing, artificial intelligence designers and stylists, and robots that cut and sew fabric shaping the future of fashion, fashion tech is growing at a faster pace than ever before, and as these trends continue to rise we can expect to see more technological advancements being used in fashion.

As Web3, NFTs and the metaverse become the norm, it is clear that a digital refashioning is afoot. And as designers and brands continue to embrace the latest innovations in technology, here are the three most significant technology trends that are impacting fashion so far in 2022.

Internet of Things & Wearables

One of the most exciting things when it comes to fashion technology is the Internet of Things. Describing the network of things that are embedded with technology that connects and shares data over the internet. The IoT aims to improve the reality of our daily lives. Through the proliferation of smart or intelligent fabrics and textiles, clothing and footwear that is embedded with computing technology is becoming a norm in our society. This is also dominating the fashion market.

Transforming existing rules in the fashion industry, the IoT is enabling designers to rethink the fashion experience. With technological innovations, the digital era has brought about a revolutionary way for fashion lovers to interact with garments. Products like Ray Ban’s revolutionary Ray-Ban Stories sunglasses have now been tech-infused with cameras and built-in features to help you stay connected with friends and family. These smart glasses come in 20 different variations and 5 different colours, and they are an extremely significant step in the evolution of fashion as they redefine the definition of a functional fashion accessory by allowing consumers to stay online, and share the world from their perspective (literally! ), in real time.

Smart glasses aren’t the pinnacle of wearable technology. Start-ups like Stealth War by Mr.Harvey are pushing the envelope with a focus on bright-led reflective fabrics that let users hide from unwanted pictures, while the Google-powered Project Jacquard has created a jacket that allows its owners to answer calls, change music and even access GPS navigation just by swiping or holding the sleeves. A clear revolution in how fashion is worn, the Internet of Things is creating a link between technology and fashion like never before. This space is only going to get better.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Blending the physical and online worlds, virtual and augmented reality has become a hit for the fashion industry as of late. With a fast-tracked adoption due to the changes forced by the Coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, designers and brands are making the most of AR and VR Technology. The application of 3D and 360 technologies has enhanced fashion, catwalks, fashion weeks, and shopping experiences, allowing fashion makers to virtually illustrate their products.

Forced to find a way to appeal to customers during a time when shops were closed and fashion weeks were halted, virtual reality made it possible for designers like Congolese Anifa Wveumba to debut a collection for the contemporary brand Hanifa via Instagram Live using 3D models who walked down the screen with their three-dimensional bodies draped in Anifa’s latest designs. A true game-changer, VR and AR platforms are allowing brands to create digital fashion experiences on social channels, e-commerce sites and mobile applications. Employing augmented reality and its 3D rendering technology to redefine online and in-store experiences, customers can now virtually try on outfits, with enhanced accuracy and customised measurements that can be tailored to all body types.

For a fashion industry that is trying to address sustainability issues, it is a win for retailers to be able to virtually illustrate their products and for their customers to try on garments without travelling into stores or ordering more than one size to figure out which size fits best.

Artificial Intelligence

In 2022 it’s almost unfathomable that a fashion brand will not have some sort of artificial intelligence helping it optimise customer engagement. Whether it’s touchscreens, chatbots, or customised product suggestions we have all become accustomed to a shopping experience that includes some form of AI. However, AI’s impact on the fashion industry extends beyond this. Fashion brands are turning to AI’s ability to track customers’ journeys and match them with their desired products to create user-driven designs.

In an experiment with Google, German headquartered platform Zalando used algorithms from Google’s Fashion Trends report as well as its own design and trend data to create designs based on users’ interests and style preferences. Tapping into the technology behind AI such as algorithms and machine learning, the gap between AI developed designs and human-made ones is accelerating and narrowing, as fashion brands are beginning to use a trained neural network to understand the colours, style preferences, textiles and fabrics most liked by their customers.

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