What was once termed as the ‘digital age’, is now better known as a technological revolution. Now more than ever, fashion and technology find their worlds inextricably linked and are bringing about a whirlwind of change with them.
Data-driven technology has been measuring consumer buying behaviour for years now – people express themselves online constantly through social media, just by tapping the ‘Like’ button or by adding a product to their cart. So when Instagram announced its e-commerce integration last November, it felt like a move that’s had a long time coming.
‘Link in bio’ got a whole new meaning as the shoppable Insta-update now allows it’s users to click on a unique ‘Like2buy’ URL on the profile bio, which leads them to a buyable feed with tags allotted to the products in each image. An internal study with the app showed that 60 percent of the users reported to having discovered new products or services on their platform. Instagram often features products in brand channels, promoted posts and consumer posts – creating a very natural place to close the gap between inspiration, desire and purchase. This feature prompts brands and retailers to up-the-ante by holding onto the followers’ attentions right at their point of discovery, regardless of a sponsored post or not.
Initially, Instagram took baby steps with a slow integration of e-commerce capabilities into its platform with select retail partners but now, the feature seems to strike a chord with favourite high-street Indian brands like Pipa Bella, SR Store, StalkBuyLove and many more.
When it comes to e-commerce, Amazon is never too far behind in the race forward. Having already made a splash with Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Video last year, they sealed off 2016 with the introduction of ‘Launchpad‘ on Indian shores, a platform for investor funded start-ups and small enterprises to gain the opportunity to cater to Amazon’s global customer base as well.
In a recent report Amazon has crossed US$2 billion as far as investments on the Indian shores go, it has infused another Rs 1,680 crore in its main local unit Amazon Seller Services, taking the total capital invested to over Rs 13,800 crore (US$2.1billion). “There are few areas Amazon India is targeting now — they want to grow big in fashion. The focus is also on growing Prime membership for next six months and keeping the user engaged. Part of the infusion will be directed to Prime content development,” said Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research. Speaking of Prime users internationally, Amazon is testing a new feature named Prime Wardrobe program , which lets Prime customers try on clothing at home over a period of seven days for free before purchasing — dubbed as the ‘try before you buy’ program, if and when deemed successful could very well change shopper behaviour by bringing back the element of in-store purchasing into the blind e-commerce shopping world.
Wearable tech has come a long way in the past four years especially in the domains of health and fitness. In fashion, wearable devices have been packing a punch, appearing to be more chic than geek, taking the form of wrist watches, eyewear and even smart textiles.
Broadcast Wearables, a Hyderabad-based start-up recently kicked off with a unique T-shirt called Sygnal Message LED T-Shirt, the world’s first programmable, touch-enabled item of clothing — the t-shirt syncs with a mobile phone and changes designs and slogans according to users’ choice and can be changed just as easily by tapping on the T-shirt logo.
The pace at which fashion is teaming with tech, analysts predict the wearable technology market will be worth $34 billion by 2020.
From clothes that offer the functions of tech to machines that create the clothes themselves, the rise of “sewbots”, a trademarked term referring to robots that can sew garments without a seamstress has us worried about job losses in the labour sector yet to come. Developed by an Atlanta-based SoftWear Automation, complex garments are currently beyond the sewbots’ knowledge but they can produce simpler products like T-shirts and eventually, SoftWear envisions them making denims and a lot more.
If letting a robot sew your next pair of denims doesn’t sound fancy enough, Google and H&M will be able to help you create a dress based on your personality. ‘Coded Couture’ uses an Android app designed to monitor multiple aspects of a user’s lifestyle, including travel routes, dinner spots, daily routine and the weather around them. This information will then be gathered over the course of a week, and used to create a ‘Data Dress’ starting at $99.
With ‘digital or die’ as the new mantra for upcoming fashion shows, a report by WWD states that if a designer relies solely on the runway to fuel digital chatter, they need to think again. While designers dived into the wearable tech market last year with notification bracelets and smart watches, virtual reality (VR) made waves as well. Resident designer, Manish Malhotra’s show at Lakmé Fashion Week in August last year was filmed using VR technology and was recently showcased in Abu Dhabi sponsored by Etihad Airways.
“Wearable tech trends are sure to bring about multifold changes in the industry and give Indian designers a new perspective on the already existing wave,” said Saket Dhankar, Head of fashion, IMG Reliance.
With virtual reality and tech-infused dresses on the rise, fashion is certainly prepped-up for a bright future — perhaps the idea of catching hold of the latest dresses as if it were a game of Pokémon Go isn’t that far-fetched after all.