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World Retail Congress: Fashion technology to change retail dynamics

The rapid escalation of fashion technology will have a huge impact on how we shop, with ideas from other sectors such as gaming expected to filter through to retail.

Asos.com’s investment director Daniel Bobroff told delegates at the World Retail Congress: “We feel fashion technology is very much at the beginning and the rate of change will accelerate. Technology coming through from other sectors like gaming will have an untold, huge impact on how we consume fashion online.”

He used Oculus Rift headsets - virtual reality headsets designed for video games - as an example, describing it as “one of the next platforms”.

“Mobile telephones will be one of the last 2D platforms and the game [of online retailing] will change again.”

He said tech-wear should help retailers to get a better understanding of their target audience and aid personalisation. But to be able to capitalise on the potential of new technologies retailers need to focus on “entrepreneurial talent”.

“That top talent has the ability to literally work wherever they like or for themselves, so if you want them to work for you, you need to create a culture conducive to that so they feel they are able to change the world in the way they want do.”

To do this he said Asos.com has ‘skunkwork projects’ around the world where small teams work to deliver innovation.

3D printing he said “has potential to change things if we can sell garment designs to be produced at home”; although he said the limited use of materials currently available restricts its capabilities.

Nick Graham, who last year launched his own eponymous menswear label in the US, said: “3D printing is a huge opportunity from a fashion point of view because to make prototypes takes an hour or two and you can print on demand. It’s also additive manufacturing so there is no waste, so it’s sustainable. 3D printing is enormous.”

He said it would give customers much greater control of the retail market as they will be able to bespoke and manage the production of items, while jewellery will be the first sector to benefit as plastic is currently the easiest to produce.

Israeli textile manufacturer Delta Galil, which works with brands like Nike and Victoria’s Secret, has a research and development mill in Israel to work on new fabrics. Chief executive Isaac Dabah said this has resulted in a new cotton called ReLasting Cotton which allows it to retain its look after repeat washes, which has been used on Victoria’s Secret bras.

He said developing new fabrics for the activewear market was now 30% of the company’s business. It is working with Nike on new cotton fabrics that can better wick away sweat. “Through the development of new fabrics we are able to gain more market share,” he said. “Customers are willing to pay for the added value [of these new products].”

 

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