Fashion, where do we start? Well, it’s one of the biggest industries in the world and has generated an estimate of $1.5 trillion per year which is increasing year on year. The fashion issue is that it has been using the same operation techniques for over twenty years. This is due to the easily accessible cheap labour from overseas, which in turn saves a lot of money on production costs. However, it’s time for a change for the better. People are becoming much more conscious about what they are purchasing and are actively looking for brands that are paying their workers fairly, not polluting the planet whilst also being in tune with the latest high-end fashion.
With fast fashion brands popping up left right and centre, there need to be new technologies that can cope with mass production whilst also minimising waste and being as sustainable as possible. With 2020 being a right off, 2021 has brought in the era of urban streetwear due to its comfort, convenience and adaptability with all types of other trends. In this article, we will go through some key technological trends which are shaping the fashion industry as we speak.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial technology is one of the biggest trending technologies in most industries in 2021, with three-quarters of fashion retailers investing in AI over the coming year. With the likes of Alibaba, who invested over $15b in R&D Labs in their effort to dominate the market and become the AI leader. AI is defining the way we interact with other people and may actually eradicate the need for human interaction in the coming years.
By the end of 2021/22, customers will manage 85% of their relationships using either AI or online, meaning less interaction with humans. AI is showing that this is a necessity in people’s shopping experiences as it shows that the fashion outlets and companies that aren’t using AI are falling behind with around 43% of fashion businesses becoming bankrupt due to them not meeting the needs of their customers and being left behind by their competitors.
Customers can now use AI for a range of different things such as AI being able to recommend items of clothing for you, recommend the best sizing for you as well as plan your week’s outfits from your wardrobe. This is still in its infancy, but it will definitely be shaping the fashion industry for many years to come.
Novel fabrics are a fantastic new invention and are going to be another technology that is going to change the future of fashion. With sustainability being on everyone’s mind, it is clear to see that there is definitely a need for more sustainable materials and methods. Recent studies suggest that eco-leather is not as sustainable as once thought, so companies like Modern Meadow are innovating the way we obtain leather by creating lab-grown leather without harming any animals. And Others like EntoGenetics are creating super-strong spider silk. Other novel fabrics are being utilised in fashion such as fabrics that can change colour and also have been used through 3D printing.
Virtual & Augmented Reality (VR)
VR has been around for more than a couple of years, but now it’s actually something to talk about. VR is combining the reality of being in the shop in the comfort of your own home. The innovative technology allows you to try on clothes, shoes and accessories through your camera on your digital device. You can see if that black outfit looks great on your skin tone or if you should opt for colour instead. This has helped the fashion industry through 2020 and 2021 as shops have been closed and people have not been able to go to the shops and browse.
Due to the constant innovations in the VR industry, developers have now been able to make things super accurate with customisable measurements. This helps customers to try things on which in turn encourages them to purchase more often than not due to them being more engaged with a brand for longer, add on the social media aspect and you’re onto a winner.
Since 3D printing became a reality, both large and small boutique brands have been looking at the possibilities of being able to make their products on demand. This helps to create new focuses on sustainability, creativity and personal customisation meaning better fits from the go. With brands using 3D printers for creating anything from accessories to Iris Van Harpen’s amazingly intricate full looks, it’s clear to see there is going to be a huge need for this in the future and will also shape the fashion industry amongst other industries.
There are a few issues with 3D printing which will surely be resolved over time including the fact that it takes quite a bit longer to create clothes but it definitely doesn’t outweigh the good things as it provides less waste as it can use one strand of material it is also much less labour intensive. When we say less waste we mean a huge 35% less waste. This can really help manufacturing factories by aligning them into more sustainable focuses which they can abide by, which in turn will bring in more customers.
Digital knitting is another fantastic side of 3D printing which is becoming more popular as it opens a whole new world of customisation for its customers. An example of this is Shima Seiki who are innovators in the clothing industry. They can create a seamless garment from one cone of yarn in less than an hour. This is much quicker than the more conventional way. Other companies such as Ze-Nitis now create more urban wear for athletes and active people as they can personalise the garment and make certain areas more breathable for their customer’s needs.
These are just some of the technologies which will be changing the face of fashion for the better. We could be looking at a more sustainable, plastic-free and waste-free fashion industry. We live in extremely exciting times right now and it is only going to be getting better for each and every industry that doesn’t fall behind and start to use these innovative technologies.