Tech and fashion are losing their restraints and teaming up fast and furious in the new year. With the first-ever hackathons on the horizon (and happening back-to-back) we’re seeing a more in-depth exploration in the thing we love most, fashion tech. Last night Third Wave Fashion had the opportunity to collaborate with Hearst, Angel Hack, and Fashion+Tech NY, to talk all things high-fashion and high-tech.
Here are all the juicy details.
- Michael Rosum, CEO of EyeonRESPONSE
- Melissa Fudor, Marketing at inSparq
- Valerie Kerbage, Owner LeecheeNY
- Samantha Lim, Digital Brand Strategist
- Mike Robinson, Manger of Operation and Development at Hearst
- Robyn Scheck, App Lab at Hearst
- Sabine Seymour, CEO and CCO at Moondial
- David Goldberg, Founder FreshNeck
- Jill Sherman, Co-founder and CEO of Modalyst
With our founder, Liza Kindred, acting as moderator for the evening, we knew the questions were going to be compelling and challenging. What was especially notable was that the theme of the evening stayed consistent (with the aim of exploring the future and impact of tech in the space of fashion) but the topics created a mosaic of opinions that confronted previous thoughts that were otherwise simplistic in nature.
Liza kicked the discussion off in a comprehensive manner posing a question that she previously answered based on her own expertise: What is Fashion Tech? What the panel concluded was that the outlook on this topic is ranging. Fashion Tech is a malleable subject in which fashion industry giants and startups co-exist creating greater competition on a now leveled playing field. Jill Sherman shared that she feels fashion-tech is a phenomenon that leverages data aggregated from tech in order to create great efficiencies for offline experiences, thereby giving access to said experiences to more people at a time. Michael Rosum agreed to a certain degree when he mentioned that what’s most interesting to him about the merge of tech and fashion is the reemergence of the mom and pop shop. On the other hand, Robyn Scheck, true to her expertise, said that fashion tech has allowed empires like Hearst to take their brands and elevate audience participation by taking the romanticism of fashion and print magazines and translating them in a digital way to include a 360-degree experience through e-commerce, shoppable images, and editorial.
Naturally, the conversation led to a review of the power of social media and its influence in fashion. Freelance writer and Digital Brand Strategist, Samantha Lim, said that social media has become much less about numbers (due to all the shortcuts), and much more about engagement. Melissa Fudor took it a step further and said that brands’ social media efforts should effortlessly intertwine with commerce initiatives. Customers should be able to share experiences and feedback in real time and while this is essential, Liza made the point that brands should consider gift giving when being so revealing. Live pinboards, for instance, provide an awesome experience where purchases can be shared nearly instantaneously prompting feedback from friends, but a drawback may be divulging too much information too soon — gift receivers beware, the surprise may be ruined. An interesting addition to social media is polls. Hearst, for instance, uses this method to fill gaps in between monthly releases. All in all, panelists agreed feedback through social media elements have a huge impact on business altogether.
With the conversation moving into content, publishing and ROI became a hot topic. Because bloggers have severely blurred the lines of this part of the industry, Mike Robinson, expert in operations and development, said that this type of measure depends on the audience. For Hearst, there is a emphasis on consumer revenue and selling subscriptions. When considering selling space to advertisers, businesses must keep in mind that the digital reader is hugely different from a print reader, which means they’re looking for an enhanced, hybrid experience. Sharing is a huge element in acquiring money in this space because as Melissa Fudor (of inSparq) contributed, 6-10% of all shares converts to a purchase.
As tech moved front and center, the group naturally made its way to talking about smart textiles. Sabine Seymour, CEO and CCO of Moondial, defined it as using sensory data and embedding it into an actual garment and capturing data through those sensors. The greatest industries for this right now are healthcare and sporting (i.e Nike FuelBand). By embedding this intelligence into fiber, you can potentially have the power to modify outfits by changing its color through one’s energy. Because it’s in its infant stages, however, there are some challenges as far as material restraints and also, the designers of smart textiles are usually more savvy in tech or fashion, usually not both.
Covering all the exciting topics in fashion tech last night was not only necessary, it was a requisite as innovators move forward in the field. All these opinions encourage different businesses to sprout, because from these opinions are born ideas where consumers can only benefit. Brands will continuously evolve more quickly than we’ve ever seen before and these changes must seamlessly translate online as well as in the real world. These are the challenges and the special distinctions of fashion tech, and we at Third Wave Fashion couldn’t be happier to be players in the game.
Leticia Domenech was the Writing and Copyediting Intern at TWF. Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.
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