Every week, The Interline rounds up the most vital talking points from across the fashion technology landscape. We provide our take on what matters, and why. This roundup is also delivered to Interline Insiders by email.
London Fashion Week will be the large-scale litmus test for a lot of technologies.
By the time you read this roundup, London Fashion Week will have begun. It’s going to be a very different event for a few reasons. First, nobody is flocking to the capital, since every fixture on the calendar will be available online, to both trade viewers and the broader public. Second, the week has been condensed to a few days. And third, the metrics by which the world will be judging its success are all going to hinge, to some degree, on technologies that haven’t stood up to this particular sort of scrutiny before.
To get the biggest question out of the way: why have a fashion week at all? After all, making clothes is a difficult proposition right now. But at the same time, fashion has a pressing need for two things: newness and good news.
According to up-to-the-minute statistics from EDITED, after the backlog of products that were stuck in transit flooded channels in late May, the volume of new styles hitting the market has fallen to more than 40% below this week in 2019. And this morning it was announced that the UK has seen the worst decline in its GDP in, well, ever. On this side of the Atlantic, non-essential retail is being permitted to reopen from Monday, but what form that will take, and how quickly spending will pick up are both unknown quantities.
From both these perspectives, people will be looking to London today and into the weekend for some indication that perhaps things aren’t as bad as they look on paper.
So there’s a lot riding on London Fashion Week’s digital event from an industry perspective. But technology is also about to be tested in a way it hasn’t before, and from that point of view what happens this afternoon (the event kicks off at noon UK time) could, if it resonates with the widened audience and achieves the objectives of the trade, pave the way for rapid adoption of digital tools up and downstream.
With DJ sets and a roster of playlists and podcasts being put together by brands, the most overt display of technology is the organisers using entertainment platforms to replicate some of the audiovisual impact of attending an event at home. But much more is happening behind the scenes, technologically speaking, to allow the actual business side of the event to operate as well.
Designer Natasha Zinko will be showing her entire collection in 3D – dovetailing nicely with the end of our extensive 3D coverage from April and May – making the next few days something of a road test for buying and design decisions made solely on the basis of digital assets.
Under the hood, the bridge between retail buyers and brands is being made by one of LFW’s technology partners, Joor. A well-established solution for digitising the wholesale process under normal circumstances, Joor has launched a new initiative – Passport – which it dubs “the first global digital trade show platform”. This will be Passport’s first outing, and The Interline will be watching its progress keenly.
And, given that LFW is now open to the general public, a further technology partnership with Smartzer – which will add a shoppable layer to some of the films, virtual galleries and experiences that make up this week’s event – could be about to make inroads into cross-media, cross-channel marketing and sales. Which is something The Interline has devoted a lot of attention to over the last week.
All eyes are on London Fashion Week for the obvious reasons, but what’s happening beneath the surface should have the fashion technology sector paying rapt attention.