Textile recycling carried out in an environmentally friendly way, materials that are grown in laboratories and the use of augmented and mixed reality technologies in the mobile sales channel for clothes and accessories – these are the trends that will exert an increasing influence on the fashion industry in the coming years.
All the quoted statements and pictures in this article come from two lectures: “The Manufacturing Revolution: Transforming the Fashion Industry Through Technology” delivered by Miroslava Duma (CEO and Founder of Fashion Tech Lab) on November 30 at the Slush conference in Helsinki, and “The five biggest myths of AR in fashion” given by Matthew Drinkwater (Head of The Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion) on November 9 at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon. The transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Few steps towards sustainable fashion
– Fashion and apparel industry, collectively worth 3 trillion dollars, is the second largest polluting industry in the worlds, right after oil and gas.
Fashion industry sets trends every single season: new colours, new shapes… But in terms of technology of production, it hasn’t changed for the past century. It’s extremely old-fashioned and outdated.
Cotton is among the materials with the highest environmental impact along with silk, wool, and leather. To produce one pair of jeans and one cotton t-shirt, it takes around 20,000 litres of water. And there are around 100 billion items of clothing being produced every single year. But apparel is not just clothing we wear – carpets, furniture, even money are made of apparel as well.
We started a company called Fashion Tech Lab, which aims to transform fashion and apparel industry into renewable, socially responsible, environmentally friendly and innovative industry.
The good news is that there is a revolution happening right now in the world of materials science and biotechnology. FTL is looking for those great technologies to invest in and to form collaborations between amazing technologists and big brands.
We invest in VitroLabs laboratory based in San Francisco that grows leather and fur from stem cells without killing animals. Another amazing company from San Francisco is called Diamond Foundry. They grow diamonds in a laboratory that are technically identical to mined ones. We call then „aboveground diamonds”. They are beautiful. Obviously, the company avoids bad environmental impact.
There is also a company called Bolt Threads that produces fibers inspired by spider silk. Another company Mint Materials produces a peppermint oil that can be embedded in fiber to kill bacteria and bad smell – you could wear your t-shirt up to 20 times without bringing it to a laundry.
We are not alone in this movement. Amazing people from fashion, finance, academia and tech world give us stellar support. I always tell them: there is a revolution that is coming with or without us. We would rather be in, or we are out. Fashion people don’t like to be out.
Today we are proud to announce a crowdfunding campaign that will be officially launched at the beginning of 2018. It’s a multinational clean-up mission to transform tons of polluting fashion waste into new, sustainable, recycled yarn. I’m happy to show you a one-minute video.
We are building Osomtex factories of the future all over the world to create new clothing out old clothing. Everyone can participate in.
A digital fashion
– This is a picture of virtual try-on app Scarfi that we created for a luxury scarf designer Emma J Shipley. Emma is right above my head. She is not wearing one of her scarfs. What you see is a 3D model of her scarf.
We developed this app over a year ago [you can download it from the App Store – ed.]. The advancements in facial tracking and depths sensing on mobile phones are increasing so much that the ability for brands and retailers to create incredibly photorealistic virtual objects and place them into the real world will become a normal way for consumers to try on products. This will be part of the future of shopping.
The other thing that you can do is to create incredible life-size holograms. That is something that we demonstrated at London Fashion Week in September last year when we worked with a Danish designer called Martine Jarlgaard.
We scanned Martine’s collection using high-definition cameras and turned pictures into a 3D-volumetric match and placed it into Microsoft Hololens. Seeing a full-scale hologram in a room with you is incredibly impactful. We are talking about a completely different way of building a fashion show.
This is a project from Fashion Week in February this year that we did with Sabinna, a young designer based in London. Beyond just looking at holograms, you can interact with them to mix and match of what the model is wearing.
Suddenly, you can begin to see a retail potential for mixed reality. What if that was you? What if you can try on a collection through mixed reality? Could you then check-out from that process? We think for sure that is going to happen.
Apple’s iPhone X with its depth-sensing camera is going to give us the biggest platform to deliver amazing experiences by putting a realistic-looking virtual content into the real world.
Here is an example of what we showed in London about a month ago. It’s a project made with a beautiful brand called Rixo London. We were able to take Rixo’s collection and just drop it through AR into the room with you. You can look all the way around the model. Again, it’s a very early test of where the technology will get to.
You can imagine as a consumer of having a photorealistic collection walking in a room with you. That is going to change everything that we understand about fashion today – how we consume it, and how we interact with it.
Digital fashion is going to take on a completely new meaning. What new business models are we going to see for the fashion industry, when facial tracking technology improves to the point where we can begin to track the entire body?
When designers can create digital content that you can download onto your body, when you will be wearing mixed-reality headsets, and if each of one of you could digitally change of what you are wearing depending on your mood, then everything that we know as fashion today will change.
If you are interested in what we are doing, I encourage you to come in February at London Fashion Week. We will debut something that the world has never seen. The ability for us to layer a completely digital experience over the world around us will change everyone’s perception of what augmented reality in fashion could be.
If you want to hear the above-mentioned statements in the original and find out what else Miroslava Duma and Matthew Drinkwater told during their speeches, watch the lectures recorded and released by the organizers of the Slush and Web Summit conferences.
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