BIMA Scotland Future of Fashion Event at The BAaD, Glasgow.
On 14th March over 100 people gathered at the historic BAaD for the BIMA Scotland’s Future of Fashion Evening. David Simpson, Head of Strategy at DigitalParade expertly moderated the session which had a heavy focus on data and analysis bringing together experts from the fields of digital design, tech, fashion and forecasting.
The presentations explored how digital can be used to drive an ethical fashion brand and how new advances in digital techniques can be used to replicate and create beautiful fashion and interior designs.
Fiona Chautard, Fashion & Textile Industry Consultant’s presentation centred around her encyclopedic industry knowledge. Fiona was keen to explore how we can use Scotland’s rich textile heritage to support young fashion designers by exploring what opportunities and challenges we face as an industry. Rich with detail and reference Fiona touched on ‘hashtag vs traditional’ plus the ‘see now buy now’ method propelled into the fashion industry by Burberry. Fiona noted how fashion houses are looking to employ influencers over super models to populate their fashion shows and drive their marketing.
Resonating throughout the panel discussion was the two fashion markets co-existing; slow and fast. It is clear that the shortening of the fashion life cycle is detrimental to the planet and the disposability of fashion is horrifying. The problem is that consumers want that instant gratification with a desire for crafted products, a connection with the producer and to be taken on a journey with the brand and be part of its story.
Undoubtedly, the challenges for a small fashion house to compete with the big guys in a fast fashion market are huge but opportunities through story telling are there. A digital age brings challenges but it also provides opportunities.
Up next Sarah Jordan, whose ethical underwear startup Y.O.U Underwear aligns its market position to craft, story-telling and social responsibility, with a huge help in hand from digital technologies and a future in AR. Sarah describes herself as a geek rather than a fashion designer and utilises her digital know-how to think smarter about her business.
The company, Y.O.U. was born from an anger of finding out how many women and children are disadvantaged and even cannot go to school because they simply do not have underwear. With her business partner she has set up a business based on ethically sourced cotton with a sales model of buy a pair, donate a pair.
Sarah began by opening up our eyes to some truly harrowing stories of hardship in parts of the cotton producing world, illustrating what can be the human cost of fashion. Sarah describes the art of getting the balance right between a desirable product and the desire to do good as “beyond digital”. Sarah explained that “Who made your clothes” can become a powerful message and the use of technologies such as blockchain and IoT will allow consumers to connect directly with who supplied their clothes.
Alan Shaw, Manager, Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT) at The Glasgow School of Art uses digital technology to revive heritage design and create bespoke new innovations in textiles.
Alan’s Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT) at The Glasgow School of Art was established in 2000, to explore the commercial and artistic potential of advanced digital print processes and was the first college to offer commercial digital printing on fabric. Although a small team the customer base has a global reach with clients ranging from the Commonwealth Games to small bespoke designers.
Alan talked about a collaboration he did with Linn and Timorous Beasties to digitally print beautiful speaker covers which had to meet a high aesthetic spec as well as developing fabric which would not impair the sound from the speakers. The CAT team have been working with key heritage designs from artists such as Lucien Day to recreate their work through digital fabric print.
Cally Russell, is the Founder and CEO, of Mallzee. Mallzee is a data led decision making app which changes the infrastructure of the fashion industry by using its unique platform and customer community to shape the buying and merchandising process
Cally describes the brand as ‘tinder for fashion’ and himself as an 'accidental fashion entrepreneur'.
The value of Mallzee does not lie just in its ability to merge multiple fashion labels onto one platform but in the crucial data it is able to capture on consumer behaviours by its swipe controls. Mallzee has the ability to gather future decisions on design, product, quantity and output to products. This in turn reduces waste, avoids under and over production and leads to a profit margin growth of 3-6%.
Access to data generated via Mallzee, Cally claims, allows smaller retailers to adopt the principles around data that has been so successful for retail giants such as Zara and HM. Now Amazon is cited as the biggest fashion retailer in the US (in 0 to 3 years).
Cally made clear that he is not suggesting data replaces creativity, referencing an 80% data / 20% gut feel approach to market, but he is clear that access to the right customer data is essential for upscaling business.
Cally predicts that in the next 5, 10, 15 years, household names that we know of now will be dead if they do not adopt to data trends now.