In the opening montage of the famous American 1980’s sitcom, The Jetsons, we see the family zipping through their futuristic utopia donning clothing and accessories that we could only dream of, until today. Coco Chanel once aptly noted that, “Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” What is happening now is that fashion and technology companies are coming together to create technological clothing that will forever change how we live and interact with our environment. Over the past decade, we have witnessed the evolution of the multichannel role that technology can play in the ever-changing cycle of fashion –e.g. through SMS text messaging, e-commerce, and, now, the fusion of technology and fashion. Like the Jetsons, whimsical inventions are now within the reach of modern-day consumers. The budding partnership between tech start-ups, such as Lyst and OMsignal, and fashion retailers has a chance to blossom into a fashion breakthrough that will allow consumers to personally engage with their innovative functional clothing, reveal their personalities, and interact with the environment.
As more and more brick and mortar stores devolve into deserted showrooms due to the rise of e-commerce, fashion retailers have finally recognized that technological innovation is a worthwhile experiment to hopefully reinvigorate the consumer experience and engage consumer’s every-day fashion lifestyle. Many trend-setters within the fashion industry, including Ralph Lauren, Victoria Secret, and Tory Burch, have begun to adopt new innovative strategies to infuse technology into apparel – including fashion shows and the retail experience, as a whole – that has day-to-day relevance, while also being aesthetically fashion-forward. By fostering the relationship between our physical and digital worlds, fashion retailers aim to reinvent the concept of a retail space and transcend consumer’s wildest expectations.
Major brand labels, including Burberry and Tory Burch, are in the early stages of developing fashion wearables that seamlessly blend into a whole line of other apparel in hopes of creating a trend-setting physical and digital collection that raises the bar in terms of functional tech-fashion. At this year’s Met Gala – the holy grail of fashion — many prominent fashion retailers displayed tech-inspired garments that pushed the boundaries of traditional fashion and heightened anticipation for what is to come. Among these pieces of fashion-tech innovation included a dress with adorned LED lights, a heat-sealed crystal dress, and a gown with a built-in IBM cognitive computer system. Even more encouraging, fashion retailers have begun to adopt new interactive measures, including, video and microchips in clothing and interactive digital screens in stores, to keep pace with the evolving penchants of consumers.
The growing spending power of Millennials is undeniable, and has spurred forward-thinking fashion brands to develop innovative campaigns and create interactive digital retail space to capture their minds, and, hopefully their brand loyalty. The next era of fashion is quickly approaching, and it promises to usher in tech-inspired clothing that interacts with our environment in culturally relevant ways – whether by addressing issues of sustainability through utilization of environmentally-friendly fabrics or managing our daily health and fitness. Fashion at its very essence is about evolution, and #techstyle is the future.