There is no argument that we're on the cusp of major changes brought upon by technology. The same rings true in the world of fashion and beauty, according to fashion futurist Amanda Cosco, founder of Electric Runway (an international site focused on anticipating the future of fashion). At the recently concluded Style Fest PH, Amanda made her case by pointing out seven technologies that continuously transform the global fashion scene.
This is the defining technology of our generation, according to Amanda. Being the most accessible and most used form of technology, it is also the quickest vehicle for information to be disseminated across the world. This handheld personal computer can impact many aspects in our world. For one, its biggest contribution is the democratization of fashion. Everyone with a smartphone can have access to all the latest collections, runway shows, and more. Thus, trends reach us faster and they become readily available. The smartphone, together with social media, also made way to the rise of influencers who in turn help brands reach its consumers in a more relatable and faster way.
2. Augmented Reality
In essence, augmented reality (AR) uses computer-generated images superimposed in real-world environment to provide a composite view. This technology does not need expensive gadgets in order to be used. In fact, we can already take advantage of AR via smartphones. AR is already gaining traction among retail brands like Topshop, Zara, and H&M, allowing consumers to try the clothes on before actually buying the pieces.
In the near future, this technology will enhance our in-store experience. Moreover, Amanda predicts that it will also personalize shopping. Case in point: A clothing brand called Chloma uses AR to help customers virtually customize clothes before they are made for them.
3. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR), on the other hand, is a complete immersion in computer-generated environments. We're already amidst breakthroughs with this technology, allowing us to watch runway shows virtually. Luxury houses like Dior and Balenciaga have both flirted with this tech and had their shows livestreamed. With further developments of VR, Amanda says that we're poised to not only participate in fashion storytelling but to actually live in it in real time.
Automation is defined as the use of largely automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production processes. Amanda believes that this is the fourth industrial revolution coming, wherein machines can replace human functions in processes. While countries who bank on manual labor (like Bangladesh, Vietnam, and the Philippines), this technology should not be feared.
Automation will in fact make our lives easier and, to a certain extent, lessen production waste. Hopefully, with the advancement of robotics, we're looking at cheaper products that are cleverly planned and executed.
In the world of design, 3D and 4D printing are also making great strides. Designers like Maartje Dijkstra and Danit Peleg have both dabbled into this technology, hoping that one day clothes can be printed at home and later on recycled to be made into new ones.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) goes hand in hand with AR to predict fashion. Amanda says that this will impact three aspects of the fashion industry: Trend forecasting like what Parisian brand Heuritech is doing now, Supply chain management automation like what German company Otto employs, and design and manufacturing improvement like what swimwear brand Shimmy Tech uses.
However, Amanda clarifies that we're not going to have robots with AI take over the human race. In fact, this technology will improve human precision and eliminate guessing to garner maximum result in all its applications.
6. Internet of Things (IOT)
The IOT is essentially wearable tech. We have this in forms of smart watches, airpods, Nike's self-lacing sneakers, and more. Amanda classifies this as smart fashion that uses clothes to help us better understand ourselves. Case in point is the Muse headband, a brain-sensing band that helps people be more mindful of the current state of their brains.
When applied in other forms, IOTs like Sensoree's Germood sweater (a hoodie that lights up in different colors depending on your mood), Levi's smart commuter jeans (clothes that let you control music at the touch of your jeans), and Ministry of Supply's Mercury jacket (a jacket that lets you maintain your ideal temperature) can help in understanding and translating human emotions, state, and mood.
Lastly, biotechnology is being looked at to push fashion forward. This area looks into living systems to inspire and make up new materials for clothes. Amanda believes this tech will be the new frontier towards sustainable fashion.
With inventions like liquid leather (made by Modern Meadow), Orange Fiber (citrus-made fibers employed by Salvatorre Ferragamo), Bolt threads (micro fiber used by Stella McCartney), and cotton and corn-made fabric (developed by Reebok) in the works, we're expecting the world of fashion participating in the world-wide movement to save Mother Earth.