The technological trends shaping the fashion industry


The technological trends shaping the fashion industry

Technology is transforming the global fashion industry, accelerating customization and automation with algorithms that predict style trends. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

In recent years, technology has transformed the global fashion industry, accelerating customization and automation with algorithms that predict style trends.

The advent of smart equipment such as 3D sewing technology, computer embroidery and laser cutting have made designs more modern.

Joseph Meleji, a fashion enthusiast at MJ Apparel Kenya, says there are many ways technology is changing the fashion industry. Designers can now use apps like Pinterest to source and redesign ideas and turn them into reality.

Merchandising has improved the marketing and selling of fashion products. Social media has become an invaluable tool that improves sales.

“Using celebrities, influencers, friends, friends of friends and referrals among others is the best strategy to improve your merchandising goal,” he says.

So which technologies are having the biggest impact on the future of the Kenyan fashion industry?

Mobile commerce

“Mobile technology is becoming more advanced every day. From Insta shopping to smart wallets, mobile commerce is the ultimate technology tool. It has not only affected our daily lives, but has become one of the fastest growing sectors in e-commerce, fueled mostly by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Mr Melegi.

Armed with your smartphones, you can now not only shop online but also have easy payments with digital wallet options.

Mobile commerce captures users’ attention through targeted notifications; these are text message-style pop-ups that anyone who downloads an app can opt-in to receive.

As the number of email opens continues to decline, push notifications are an attractive new marketing channel for fashion brands that attracts people.

Another way is through geo-fencing; it’s when your phone knows exactly where you are so that apps can send you location-specific offers, invites, and promotions.

For fashion brands, it is an outstanding tool to connect the dots and combine personalized online and offline experiences.

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Finally, through personalization, retailers leverage customers who have downloaded their app and monetize the social network by connecting to customers’ Facebook accounts to show them what products their friends have liked or by tracking what products they view and offering them special discounts.

“For fashion brands, there is no doubt that mobile will continue to play a crucial role. This newer method of shopping makes buying on the go simple and easy at the touch of a button.”

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT describes a network of objects – “things” – that are embedded with technology that enables the exchange and connection of data over the Internet. This is one of the most exciting emerging technology trends in the fashion market.

Technology mechanizes our world by allowing us to interact with everyday objects through the Internet.

Casual fashion continues to improve to reflect the realities of our daily lives. From the heavy emphasis on comfort to the use of new and exciting fabrics, the fashion industry has had to keep pace in adapting to the demands of modern life.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI enables brands to improve their customers’ shopping experience, analyze data, increase sales, predict trends and provide guidance related to inventory.

Chatbots and touch screens can be used in large stores to improve customer experience and personalized product offers. It’s almost impossible to go to a fashion brand’s website and not find some form of AI chat technology being used to help improve the customer experience.

The technology behind AI involves algorithms that track customer journeys to match them with the right product.

Virtual/Augmented Reality

Combining the physical and online worlds of retail is one of the most exciting applications of virtual reality.

This is certainly true in the fashion industry: one widespread use of virtual reality allows customers to virtually try on outfits.

This provides greater accuracy thanks to custom measurement functionality and also uses augmented reality technology.

It also means customers are more likely to buy products they feel have been tried.

This kind of online shopping engages and keeps customers longer as they like to see the product on themselves before they buy.

This combined with the social media sharing factor makes it even more appealing to customers.

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3D printing

Since the advent of 3D printers, many brands, especially the big ones, are exploring the possibilities of on-demand manufacturing. This will create new avenues for customization, sustainability and creativity.

Many fashion brands are embracing 3D in their collections, from accessories to complete looks.

Although it takes many hours to create, it results in less waste and turns out to be much less labor intensive than other types of production. On-demand garment printing reduces fabric waste by about 35 percent.

This minimal waste approach could provide valuable insights into how to reshape the current state of factories and align them with a more sustainable social and environmental focus.

According to CB Insights, other next high-tech fashion trends to watch include wearables, virtual fashion, new fabrics and live shopping and synthetic media, among others.

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