Tech reshaping fashion industry
Tech is reshaping the fashion industry

Although traditionalists may feel that there is little room for advanced technology in the fashion industry, the reality is that artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are already used by a significant number of designers, creators and manufacturers. Used correctly, tech innovations lead to ongoing improvements, not only for customers, but also for suppliers, workers, designers and others involved in the industry. Take a look at how tech, which is already available, is transforming the way in which clothing companies operate.

Enhanced, seamless marketing

One of the biggest changes for customers is the enhanced ability to purchase off the page. Historically, a significant problem for customers (and fashion houses) has been to bridge the gap between printed media and purchasing. Traditionally, customers will see fashion they crave in magazines such as Vogue or Harpers Bazaar, then have to laboriously track down the items they like online or in-store. Tech in the future of the fashion industry changes this, providing an effortless transition between printed media and purchasing.

From page to online stockist in seconds

One example of modern technology which is taking the fashion industry by storm is software which can convert a page from a fashion journal or catalogue into an online, e-commerce site, simply by scanning it. Customers see an item or outfit that they like and scan the relevant page: the software then works to transform the image into a shopping portal - users can simply purchase the garment they like using a swift, secure, virtual transaction. This type of technology benefits the print industry, pleases customers due to its effortless, accessible nature and provides the opportunity for clothing manufacturers to increase sales. By bridging the gap between the printed word and e-commerce purchasing opportunities, this tech creates winning scenarios for all parties involved.

Designs that are related to customer needs

AI allows for sophisticated analysis of buyer trends to be conducted in real-time. Accurate information on previous sales, or data on which products are receiving the most views or social media shares can help to inform not only supply chain logistics but also which style features online shoppers value when they order. At a higher level, designers can use AI and these insights to design garments which have optimal appeal, and ones that are known to sell. This could mark the start of a more focused, people-centred industry, where the needs of consumers come before the creative inclinations of traditional designers. AI is already being used to achieve this on an individual basis for customers: one website now offers a personal stylist service that is powered by AI. This service uses AI to predict which outfits an individual will want to wear based on a mixture of data which includes: pinned items; sites searched; dimensions; previous purchases and similar parameters.

Virtual fitting rooms transform online shopping

Fit is frequently a challenge for customers when trying to decide whether to purchase an item or not. Unfortunately, when purchasing online, it's impossible to know if a garment will fit correctly until it's been dispatched. If clothing doesn't fit, there is then the problem of returning it, a loss of faith in the supplier and possibly a disinclination to make further online purchases. This is where AR/VR can come into its own. Some companies are already facilitating virtual, AR changing rooms, software that measures an individual's dimensions using special sensors, then transforms the person into a virtual presence that has identical dimensions to the real-life version. The virtual image can then try on clothes to see which ones have the best fit. Clothing which doesn't match the measurements can be hidden from the search parameters, making it easier to see what's available that's going to fit. Not only does this enable customers to get a good idea of what's going to suit them, but it also reduces the risk of disappointment and/or returns.

Greater transparency and sustainability in sourcing

The fashion industry faces a number of issues when trying to reinvent itself as a sustainable option. Characterised by high levels of wastage and a need to constantly reinvent clothing through seasonal changes, AI could be a powerful driver of a more environmentally responsible approach. Not only could AI see the end of fashion "seasons", it could also provide much greater transparency and simplicity in the supply chain. It will be easier for garment manufacturers, fashion houses and customers to trace the journey their goods have made, helping to keep their brand become more environmentally responsible through greater accountability. There are also opportunities to tackle the conflict between the need for affordable clothing and the problems which disposing of large quantities of poor-quality, yet cheap, clothing presents. Armed with the minutiae of customer preferences and requirements, AI can suggest choices which are both cost-effective and planet-friendly.

Augmented reality - transforming the high street

With research showing that around 80% of clothing purchases are still made from traditional clothing stores, there is a need to rethink the link between the wealth of digital opportunities available and a real-life shopping trip. Augmented reality, coupled with the ability to quickly and easily link to digital shopping channels if needed, is likely to become more prominent on the High Street in the future. Whether customers want to quickly order online if the store doesn't have their size in stock, wants to see how something might look without needing to try it on, or want to quickly source additional accessories to effortlessly complement their new purchase, tech can make it happen.

The competitive, fast-moving nature of the fashion industry is such that companies which fail to take advantage of the opportunities which tech can bring run the risk of being sidelined in the next few years. With customer purchasing habits ever-evolving, it's vital that the industry embraces new ways of working in order to keep up with consumer demand and expectations.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of AI, AR and VR for your fashion brand, we would be delighted to sit down for an informal discussion. Please visit our enquiry form here for more details.

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