Fashion Community Week virtual tech conference talks sustainability, customization

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Fashion Community Week/Courtesy

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Since 2014, the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization Fashion Community Week has biannually hosted fashion weeks featuring designer pop-ups, runway shows and more. For 2020, a year uniquely shaped by the pandemic, the fashion week’s typically in-person events shifted online — a feat labeled a “challenging but rewarding journey” by the organization’s CEO and founder Shirin Hashem on the first day of the conference.

This fall’s Virtual Fashion Week took place from Sept. 24-27, kicking off the week with a Worldwide Fashion Tech Conference. Led by Hashem, the hour-long dialogue welcomed the CEOs of five global fashion tech companies: Easysize, Intelistyle, ELSE Corp, 3DLook and Save Your Wardrobe. Together, the business and fashion leaders from Denmark, London, Florida and Milan discussed technological ways to increase customization and convenience for fashion consumers.

Accessibility to digitized products is especially prevalent during the pandemic, considering essentially all services are currently online or contactless. Intended for made-to-measure businesses, Whitney Cathcart’s company 3DLook recently launched Mobile Tailor, which calculates key body measurements based simply on a customer’s front and side photos.

“What we’re really looking to do is personalize the experience, knowing that we’re moving towards a world of customization and personalization, not standardization,” Cathcart said at the conference. “What is an individual customer’s body shape and body measurement, and how does that fit with the current product? Of course, much deeper than that, is being able to use this body data to affect the supply chain.”

As Hashem acknowledged during the conference, the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world. Sustainable fashion is needed more now than ever, and utilizing artificial intelligence, or AI, to personalize wardrobes is a rising e-commerce technology that helps decrease waste in the fashion industry. Technologies such as Mobile Tailor aim to lower a business’s return rates and reduce overall waste in its manufacturing, inventory or distribution processes.

In a modern world of instant gratification, fashion consumers today expect simple and practical ways to search for and purchase apparel online. But, as Save Your Wardrobe CEO Hasna Kourda stated during the conference, the key to sustainability isn’t buying — it’s reusing. In contrast to fast fashion, companies such as Save Your Wardrobe encourage consumers to make the most out of the clothes they already own by recommending repair services, dry cleaning services and personalized styling tips.

Sustainable lifestyles, especially in terms of fashion, require personalization — specifically, customized styling can help minimize overconsumption and combat fast fashion. For example, ELSE Corp CEO Andrey Golub shared that his company’s AI product MyStyle helps customize the supply chain through product personalization. Similarly, Intelistyle’s AI analyzes current fashion trends and outfit examples from top designers to develop its own sense of style, which it then applies to various customers.

Back at 2019 London Fashion Week, Intelistyle conducted a study that compared styles chosen by AI versus an Instagram influencer. Though 70% of the 27 surveyed fashion week attendees actually preferred the outfits chosen by AI, Intelistyle CEO Kostas Koukoravas noted that this technology’s goal isn’t to encourage competition. “The way we use it is to actually empower retailers, sales agents and even styling teams,” Koukoravas explained. “At the end of the day, humans will always lead the charge in terms of creativity.”

Gulnaz Khusainova, CEO of the AI company Easysize, reminded conference viewers that this empowerment comes only with accessibility. “It’s not just solely about the technology and that being very accurate, it’s also about making that technology accessible,” Khusainova said. “Our number one goal is to make it as simple as possible.” It’s undeniable that increased access to technology is impacting the fashion industry globally, and the Worldwide Fashion Tech Conference spotlighted the importance of supporting businesses with technology and collaborative networks.

Whether it’s eliminating sizing charts, reorganizing wardrobes or improving personal styles, technology is transforming business-consumer interactions for the better. Fashion remains an environmentally damaging industry, but with a growing emphasis on mindful consumption, it’s evident that the industry’s future lies in sustainability.

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].