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Modern technology and fashion industry, a potter and his clay!

The fashion industry is always running at a fast pace from its very inception. But today it has become faster than ever before and technology is shaping it just like a potter shapes his clay.

With the advent of modern technologies, this industry has the ability to change its models just like a chameleon changes its color. As a result, the changes are endless and the opportunities are limitless.

online apparel buyers
Figure 1: The fashion industry due to the arrival of the smartphone changed conventional business. Courtesy: Ralph Lauren

This is resulting in diversity in the industry, from design and marketing, through to production and sales. With the shift from brick-and-mortar retail shopping, technology’s impact has been inevitable.

Let’s see how the fashion industry is being shaped by modern technology.

1. Spell cast by the strange magic box

The arrival of the smartphone changed conventional business which was mainly brick-and-mortar retail shopping, purchasing and reviewing items. That’s why fashion retailers had to think of new and innovative ways to appeal to these mobile customers, and so virtual showrooms, real-time customer service and virtual payments were invented.

By using virtual reality, it is possible to show different lines and samples alternately. Clothes appear photo-realistic in front of the eye and different possible combinations can easily be displayed in order.

According to Statista, in 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online rather than going to a physical store, up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016.

In this age, it is possible to build a fashion powerhouse without even opening a physical store! Actually, smartphone connectivity has introduced a convenient form of shopping through mobile commerce.

Now we can shop online and have easy payment experiences with digital wallet options such as Apple and Android Pay. This is not the end! More magic spells are yet to be cast by the smartphones in the near future!

2. Social media is influencing customers’ tastes

There is an entire generation who can’t imagine a world without social media. “35% of US women 18-34 point to social media as a key influencer that impacts their purchasing decisions,” said Diana Smith, Senior Retail and Apparel Analyst at Mintel, a global and award-winning provider of Market Research.

“With one-third of Millennial women visiting sites like YouTube (34%) and Instagram (33%) on a daily basis, and 71% using Facebook every day.”

People on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat every day, post selfies, and as a result, build their own social brand. An interesting report in the UK shows that women have adopted a ‘wear it once culture’, trashing clothes after only a few wears.

Social media influence fashion
Figure 2: People in common are obsessed with social media stars and this influences them immensely in choosing and appearing like fashion models. Courtesy: thetrioact

This is because women don’t want to be tagged wearing the same item of clothing twice, which has far-reaching effects.

In addition, the study found that an average woman typically spends £64 per month on clothes most of which see daylight just for seven times! Incredible, right?

Social media also changed the process of choosing fashion models. Here Kendall Jenner’s name fits perfectly. Apart from her looks or talents, she became the face of Estée Lauder for her massive fan base on Twitter and Instagram.

As a result of all these aspects, the fashion industry didn’t linger and waste any time to realize the significance of social media and immediately used it to their advantages.

3. IoT is connecting the dots and fashion is getting smart

The introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the biggest opportunities for the fashion industry. From smart jackets to smart sports apparel, clothing is quickly becoming included to the IoT.

This technology enables users to interact with everyday objects through the internet. That means you can smartly interact with your clothing’s just like Iron man! Interesting, right?

For fashion, this indicates that a great change is emerging. A recent Retail Vision Study report stated that 70% of retail decision makers globally are ready to adopt the Internet of Things to improve customer experiences.

So, the fashion industry and smart clothing become inseparable from each other. For example, FitBit- an American company that produces activity trackers, wireless-enabled wearable technology devices- has begun partnering with major fashion brands to make their designs aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the users.

Wearable technology actually began at the wrist with the first attempt of smartwatch designs from the 80s though it was a failed attempt. Nike’s Nike+ FuelBand in 2012 is a continuation of the wearable technology development.

Now the wearable technology has branched out to encompass all parts of the body and all design pieces, from wristbands, ankle bracelets, necklaces, glasses, and shoes. Actually, IoT is connecting the dots and as a result, the Fashion industry is getting smart.

4. AI is becoming the third eye of fashion industry!

The fashion industry is no stranger to big data. Just like other industries, this one is also suffering from information overload.

But digitalization has enabled the retailers to use this information to their advantage. Today social media is the king of the internet which is providing customers with the platform to mend and shape trends.

The customers are also providing brands with a goldmine of data which can be used to forecast trends. Gathering data manually is very hard, today it is literally impossible.

So retailers are utilizing AI to collect, organize, analyze, and sort data into relevant categories which are then used to predict and understand what their customers are looking for.

The Screenshop app created by Kim Kardashian is a great example of AI in action. Screenshop, whose tagline is ‘Shop your inspiration’ is an app that lets the user use a screenshot or photo and search products that match the look in the photo.

It uses AI to identify products in images and then recommend similar looks and styles. Artificial intelligence is transforming the industry by managing inventory, connecting with customers, reducing returns and improving product discovery

According to a study from Juniper Research, annual AI spending by global retailers is predicted to grow to $7.3 billion by 2022. That means machine learning in retail is on the rise, so it’s no surprise that AI is becoming an integral part of technology in the apparel industry.

It can certainly be said that AI has become the third eye of the fashion industry because of providing the perceptions beyond the ordinary sight.

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