An Insight on the Developments in the Fashion Tech Industry
The fashion industry has lagged behind other sectors in the use of technology, such as digitalization. This may be due to the fact that the market has been dominated by established brands with a long history and tradition, and that old business practices have remained in place for a long time. The use of technology in the fashion industry is gradually increasing. This use of technology in fashion is known as fashion tech. In this article, we will introduce some of the fashion tech services that are making their presence felt both in Japan and abroad, and explain the potential of fashion tech.
Table of Contents
1. What is Fashion Tech?
2. Five types of Fashion Tech
3. Fashion Tech in Overseas
4. Fashion Tech in Japan
5. Skills needed in Fashion Tech
What is Fashion Tech?
Fashion tech refers to the integration of cutting-edge digital technologies such as 5G, big data, AI, and blockchain with fashion. The fashion industry has been an early adopter of online shopping systems, particularly e-commerce sites, but has lagged behind in other areas of digitalization. In recent years, however, this situation is being challenged by the entry of start-ups. This is why we refer to businesses that combine fashion with technology as fashion tech.
Five Types of Fashion Tech:
Fashion tech can be divided into five categories These are: digital fabrication, virtual fitting, virtual stylist, clothing subscription, and personalized ordering. Let's take a look at what each of these business models entails.
Manufacturing in the fashion industry has traditionally been an analog design process, using paper patterns. It was only in the 1980s that this began to change to digital data. Digital manufacturing enabled the creation of fashion items with complex designs that were difficult to produce, and the simplicity of the process encouraged designers who had not been involved in manufacturing to enter the industry. From there it evolved into the FabLab, a method of design and manufacture using laser cutters, CNC milling machines, paper cutters, and other electronic work equipment.
FabLab is a word coined from Fabrication Laboratory and Fabulous Laboratory and has gained industry recognition in Japan in the 2010s. FabLab simplifies the manufacturing process and speeds up production considerably, allowing for the production of more personalized fabrics that are not constrained by production lot sizes.
While apparel e-commerce sites offer the advantage of an easy shopping experience with the ability to compare designs and prices, the challenge is how to eliminate the misperception of size. This is because the customer may be dissatisfied with the size of the garment they have purchased, or find that it does not fit them. These fitting issues also lead to increased returns and inefficiencies.
Virtual fitting is a way of using digital technology to display an avatar or silhouette of yourself on your phone so that you can try on the items you want to buy and see how they fit and fit.
The launch of a number of apparel e-commerce sites has made it possible to shop without having to go to the shop, but at the same time, it has created the problem of being unable to choose from the many items available. In-store, staff could offer advice and push customers to make a sale, but this was not the case with online shopping. That's where fashion-tech services come in, offering advice and styling suggestions from professional stylists. Being able to buy a combination of products you wouldn't choose yourself, or having someone else point out what you find attractive, can motivate you to buy, which in turn can increase sales.
Clothing subscriptions are a fashion application of the recent trend for subscriptions that offer unlimited use of a service for a fixed monthly fee. For example, you can pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to clothing and accessories. In an age of overflowing goods, consumers are shifting their mindset from buying to sharing. With limited closet space, it's a great way to save money by sharing with others rather than buying new items one after the other. This type of clothing subscription also requires technology to be built into the system and is known as fashion tech.
Personalized order is a system that allows you to order clothes that fit your body without measuring it with a measuring tape by using sensing technology, like the ZOZO suit developed by ZOZO. What used to take a long time to measure and manufacture at a specialist tailor can now be made easily and inexpensively. These personalized orders are also fashion tech.
Fashion Tech In Overseas
The following are some examples of fashion tech from overseas. Some of these services have not yet landed in Japan, but it is possible that similar services will be launched in Japan in the near future.
Focals is a smart glasses by Canadian start-up company North. It looks like a normal pair of glasses, but it has a projector built into the lens, which allows you to see notifications and weather on your smartphone while wearing the glasses. It was also reported that Google's parent company, which develops AR and VR devices, was trying to buy it.
Stitch Fix is a fashion tech service from an American start-up that uses AI style to suggest products. You can browse and buy products on the website just like a normal apparel e-commerce site, but you don't just choose the items yourself. The service has been gaining a lot of attention as it offers a new shopping experience.
GUCCI DIY (GUCCI)
GUCCI DIY is a fashion tech initiative by GUCCI, which allows customers to add their initials, patches, and materials to GUCCI fashion items and bags.
The Dressing Room (GAP)
The Dressing Room by Gap is a virtual fitting service that allows customers to enter their body measurements and a 3D mannequin is generated to show them the silhouette of their clothes, including length, shoulder width, and sleeve length. It is a virtual fitting service. As every body shape is different, it is difficult to get a good idea of sizing from size labels alone. With The Dressing Room by Gap, the 3D mannequins make it easier to visualize what you're looking for.
Fashion tech in Japan
An increasing number of brands and apparel manufacturers in the Japanese fashion industry is entering into services that incorporate fashion tech. As fashion-related consumption cools down, the challenge continues to be whether it will take root as a new method of stimulating consumption.
AirCloset (AirCloset Inc.)
AirCloset is a monthly fashion rental service launched in February 2015. AirCloset offers three pricing plans: "Regular", which allows customers to rent unlimited clothes each month, "Light", which allows customers to rent up to three outfits per month, and "Light Plus", which allows customers to rent up to five outfits per month. There is also a "Lite Plus" plan which allows you to borrow up to 5 outfits per month. The main feature of any of these plans is that the professional stylist will select clothes according to your tastes and concerns. If you are not satisfied with the clothes you choose, you can get a full refund. Because you are only renting, you don't have to buy new clothes every season and you don't have to fill up your wardrobe. It's a great way to save money rather than buying clothes. It is one of the sharing economy services in that clothes are shared by everyone, and this is made possible by fashion tech.
Sitateru (sitateru inc.)
Sitateru K.K. is a company founded in 2014 that offers a range of services related to the apparel manufacturing industry. Sitateru SPEC is an EC package service that integrates order-taking, production, and delivery, allowing companies and creators with no expertise in apparel to take on the challenge of making clothes without inventory risk.
Stock Park (park & port Co., Ltd.)
Stock Park is a service that allows you to sell off your out-of-season clothes, bags, and fashion accessories at an outlet. Stock Park is a service that specializes in buying fashion items and makes it extremely easy to assess your items. In addition, since the assessed products are sold through our own channels, they are bought at a price close to the list price.
Rennet (Whiteplus Co., Ltd.)
Rennet is an online cleaning service provided by Whiteplus Co. Everything from ordering to arranging delivery can be completed via the web or app, making it easy for busy people to use the cleaning service. Once you've made an application, simply pack your clothes in a bag and hand them over to a delivery person, who can also pick them up early in the morning or late at night. The fact that you can apply for as little as one piece of clothing also makes it easy to use on a daily basis, making it a highly convenient and popular service.
Nutte (State of Mind Inc.)
Nutte is a crowdsourcing service that allows you to request sewing services from professional craftsmen. Whether you want to sell your clothes, make costumes for dance or ballet recitals, or make original clothes for your pets, you can use Nutte to ask a professional to sew for you.
Boohoo is an online fast fashion site from the UK. By focusing on online, boohoo releases over 3,000 different items per month. With new designs being added to the site every day, it is said to be a pleasure to browse.
Skills Needed in Fashion Tech
It is expected that more and more companies will adopt fashion tech in the future, but they will need to develop different perspectives and skills from the traditional fashion business. Here we explain what kind of people are in demand.
Be digitally literate
In the fashion business, it has always been important to be up-to-date with the latest trends and culture. But in fashion tech, knowledge of telecommunications and advanced technology is also essential. You will need to be digitally literate and be able to answer questions such as: what kind of promotions are possible using AI and VR? You will also need to be able to think about how to connect technology and fashion.
Acquire skills at a specialist school
As more and more companies in the industry focus on fashion tech, more and more vocational schools are offering courses for those who want to become fashion tech professionals. So it's important to have the skills to research where you can go to deepen your knowledge.
Fashion tech could be the future of the fashion industry. The fashion industry is facing unprecedented headwinds. While some brands continue to increase sales and profits, the majority of apparel brands are experiencing a slowdown in sales and are experiencing a cooling of fashion consumption. Fashion tech is a key part of the solution. We need to be sensitive to new techniques and technologies and think about how we can integrate them with fashion.
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