Fashion Tech: London Fashion Week 2016 embraces AI, VR, AR and IoT
Tweeting from the FROW
…That’s ‘front row’. As in, where all the off duty models, designers, and famouses sit.
So why is a tech PR agency talking about London Fashion Week 2016? Well, this year’s LFW was all about fashion tech.
And we’re not talking about electric eyelash curlers or nuclear-powered hair straighteners, either. LFW featured some of the world’s most cutting edge technologies to emerge from any sector. Keep reading to find out just how futuristic fashion has become…
Mixed reality fashion show
Danish designer, Martine Jarlgaard, employed an interesting tech concept for her runway show at London Fashion Week.
Rather than the usual catwalk and rows of seats, guests that turned up for Jarlgaard’s show were greeted with a completely empty room. They were then presented with a Hololens: Microsoft’s mixed reality headset. Mixed reality shares some similarities with augmented reality, but it’s not entirely the same. If we’re honest, the distinction seems a little muddled, but experts argue that mixed reality combines elements of both AR and VR.
After donning these MR headsets, visitors to Jarlgaard’s show see a room full of models sporting the Spring/Summer collection. The physical features of the room remain the same – it’s just populated by people who aren’t really there. Once wearing the Hololens, visitors are able to walk around, getting up close and personal with the collection while viewing it from all angles.
Jarlgaard explains that the justification for this mixed-reality experience was a desire to create and consume less physical materials.
She says: “With technology there is potential to tackle even the way things are being made. We require so much material as an industry; we’re the second largest polluter after oil. If somehow we can change the process of creation, and even skip just a few of the steps, if we can be much more resource effective, that’s only a good thing.”
While you have to argue whether producing high-spec tech like mixed reality headsets is really less wasteful, we admire her thinking. We’re certainly keen to see whether mixed reality becomes a regular feature at future fashion events. Watch this space!
Augmented reality mannequins
As a special Fashion Week feature, online retailer, Lyst, used scantily clad models as augmented reality mannequins.
Anyone that approached the display was able to ‘dress’ the models by holding up a smartphone or tablet. Outfits by Lyst appear on the screen, overlaid onto the view of the models. If it wasn’t gimmicky enough, Spencer Matthews from Made in Chelsea made a special appearance as a model, too.
While it may seem like a frivolous use of tech, Lyst CMO, Christian Woolfenden is keen to point out how it opens up fashion to the masses: “Merging Lyst’s inventory — the biggest in the world — with the latest developments in augmented and virtual reality and we’ll soon all be able to instantly try out the hottest trending fashions — from street styles to catwalks — from anywhere in the world.”
He has a point. Rather than being all about the designers, this feature puts the viewer in control. They get to choose what clothes they see on the models, based on their own tastes. It might even help with buying decisions, as visitors get a closer look at the clothes that interest them most.
Never one to be boring, Burberry have experimented with chatbots to connect with customers this London Fashion Week.
Powered by Facebook Messenger, Burberry’s chatbot reveals more information about the collection, the inspiration behind it, and close up shots of key pieces. They’ve also added an element of gamification, with a traditional-style maze that customers must navigate to learn more.
Like many fashion houses at this year’s London Fashion Week, Burberry have for the first time made their collection immediately shoppable. That means customers can buy the clothes they see on the catwalk within a matter of minutes.
With a collection of 250 pieces available to ship to over 100 countries, it’s no surprise that Burberry have decided to up their customer service game. As well as the creative gamified content outlined above, Burberry have included multiple ‘buy it now’ links to take customers to their e-commerce site, as well as the option to chat to a sales advisor. It’s a very smart solution, and something we anticipate will become much more mainstream in the coming months.
Live streaming catwalks
Typically, LFW was an elite event, with space for just 5,000 of the most high-profile writers and influencers. However, as the influence of vloggers and bloggers opens up fashion writing to anyone with an opinion, it’s no longer acceptable to keep LFW for a select few.
This year, anyone could keep up with the action as the majority of the shows were live streamed to the LFW website. Burberry even used Facebook Live to share its catwalk show with its social media fans. For those who wanted to soak up a little more ‘atmosphere’, there were even public screenings of the festivities. Sounds like a lot more fun to us!
Each year, LFW’s organisers are coming up with more and more exciting ways for fashion fans to engage with the event through social media.
Always on the cutting edge, Burberry partnered with Twitter this year to allow users to engage with the runway show by using the hashtag #Tweetcam. Any tweets to @burberry featuring #Tweetcam triggered a camera on the runway to take a picture of the action. It then tweeted this back to the user who sent the original tweet.
Burberry also launched some location-specific Snapchat filters for those lucky enough to be in the audience at their shows. As of yet, no selfies of Kanye West and Vivienne Westwood have emerged.
To top it all off, fashion legend, Kate Moss, has just joined Instagram to coincide with the launch of her new agency. When you consider that millennial models like Gigi Hadid have gained most of their fame through their social media accounts, it’s been a long time coming.
The best thing about London Fashion Week is that it happens twice a year. We’re looking forward to seeing what high tech happenings crop up at February’s fashion week.
While a few brands have started exploring 3D printing for creating bespoke or personalised pieces, we’d like to see this used a little more. Likewise, we also expect the role of apps to become bigger as fashion week continues to become more techie.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that LFW will surprise us in dazzling, high tech ways that we never even expected. Frankly, we can’t wait.