Chances are, when you first hear the word “blockchain”, you’ll be thinking of Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency that has grown exponentially in the past few years.
It makes sense, considering the fact that blockchain technology was first invented specifically for the use of Bitcoin. The technology, however, can be utilized in a variety of ways; it doesn’t have to be limited to just digital currency. Its accessibility and transparency are an incredibly appealing combination, and can be used in numerous industries. It’s no surprise, then, that the fashion industry has started to recognize the benefits of utilizing and incorporating blockchain technology, and its popularity is sure to grow.
In February earlier this year, the first Blockchain Fashion Conference was held in Kiev.
The conference wanted to research the possibilities of uniting
blockchain and fashion, and it’s certainly a step in the right
direction. The conference will, hopefully, be the first of many as both
industries come together to find new and inventive solutions to create a
harmonious fashion blockchain ecosystem. While it’ll be a few years
before blockchain is completely implemented into the fashion industry,
it’s good to see that designers and brands are starting to take notice
of the technology.
One of the main benefits of blockchain technology in Fashion is its resistance to alterations and counterfeiting.
As a result, it allows the user to be far more transparent. Fraud can
be a major problem in any industry, but it is especially prevalent in
the fashion industry. With blockchain technology, however, records
cannot be deleted, changed, or lost, making it far easier to keep track
of the currency, no matter where it goes. Blockchain paired with
technologies such as RFID (already in use by the likes of fast fashion
giants such as Zara and H&M) can track a product throughout its
entire lifecycle, from raw material shipments to final delivery,
encouraging a new level of transparency within the supply chain. In
addition, every time a product changes hands, it’s recorded and kept
secure through the blockchain system, which can even be used in the
prevention of counterfeit goods. Consumers are also increasingly
demanding transparency from fashion brands, as it’s important for them
to know where and how their clothes are being made, due to political,
ethical, social and environmental concerns. Brands such as Everlane and
Patagonia have built their reputations on promoting full transparency,
displaying just how lucrative transparent fashion can be.
Blockchain technology can provide consumers visibility into
the entire fashion lifecycle of a garment, including materials and
vendors used, the labor sources, and even the production, shipping and
warehouse locations involved.
Designers are starting to experiment with blockchain technology. For
example, Chinese label Babyghost partnered up with VeChain and BitSE to
create a phone application that could tell the customer the “story”
behind any garment in their Spring/Summer collection. It allowed
consumers to really study and see the entire lifecycle of a particular
garment, creating another level of transparency and accessibility within
what has been a traditionally closed-off and secretive industry, while
still encouraging audience engagement. While it’ll take some time before
major fashion brands and retailers start to incorporate blockchain into
their companies, Babyghost’s experiment is simply the beginning.
The relationship between blockchain and fashion brands is, at its
core, a symbol of the way society is constantly changing and adapting to
keep up with more and more innovative technology. The future of apparel
is shifting as the industry slowly changes from a supply chain model to
a demand chain model, rooted in much more than the traditional
consumption-driven models. As the fashion industry begins to adopt more
and more inventive technologies, it’ll have to find a way to keep up –
and that’s where blockchain comes in. Its ease of use and omnipresence
can definitely help brands manage their product’s lifecycles while still
promoting ultimate transparency.
In all, it’s exciting to think of the possibilities that blockchain
can bring to the fashion world – it could totally alter the way
consumers shop and search for clothing in the future. While still in its
infancy, the conference in Kiev is an indication of how designers are
starting to become more and more interested in the uses of blockchain.
Hopefully we will soon begin to see newer and even more innovative
technologies born from the partnership between fashion brands and
Starting and running a fashion brand often takes an immense amount of money.
There are a variety of things that go into launching a brand and keeping it afloat for the first few years.
Young designers are often encouraged not to create a fashion startup, as it comes with a set of unique financial challenges. For those who desperately want to found their own brand there are some options available to them when it comes to financing. They range from the use of personal and familial connections to networking with investors, or even appealing to the wider Internet audience for help.
The easiest (or at least, most flexible) way to launch a
brand comes in the form of loans or investments from friends and family.
Obtaining loans from friends and family is a commonly used method for
financing a fashion startup. It allows designers to start their brands
without any outside input from unrelated investors; as a result, their
creative inspiration can really flourish. Of course, this method simply
will not work if a designer’s friends and family are not wealthy or
convinced enough to provide the money required to launch a brand. In
addition, it may be a while before related investors can get paid back
(many startup fashion brands struggle to break even in their first few
years), so it’s important to be communicative and transparent with the
friends and family who have invested.
Another option is self-financing.
This means that whatever money is required for the launch of a
promoter’s own brand will come directly from their pockets. Starting a
fashion brand is expensive and high-risk, so one must think carefully
about this option before committing to it. A lot of new brands often
fail to take off, which can mean the complete loss of personal savings,
as well as the burden of personal debt. Most designers are unable to
afford this option unless they are independently wealthy, and thus must
turn to alternatives.
A popular method of financing fashion startups comes in the form of venture capital.
With the venture capital option, investor groups or firms will
provide money to a brand that they personally believe has long-term
potential, and depending on how developed the brand is, they may become
an angel investor. A venture capitalist often wants to invest when the
brand is relatively small and new, and sees great potential for growth
into a bigger and more profitable company. In exchange for the
investor’s money, the investor will receive equity, a loan promissory
note, or both, in the brand. Additionally the investor will almost
always be given some control or input into the business’s decisions.
This can be something that frustrates designers who wish to have
complete control over their company, but it can be a necessary catalyst
for future growth as well. Many direct-to-consumer fashion brands have
started out using the venture capital method, such as Glossier and
Outdoor Voices. They’ve been able to raise huge amounts of money, which
has, in turn, enabled them to grow their brands into the cult-favorites
they are today.
Taking out a traditional loan may be a viable fashion startup option.
While it may be intimidating to take on debt as a new business,
traditional loans, whether from a bank or a credit union, a private
investor, or even the Small Business Administration, are often viable
options for brands that are just starting out. Such loans often come
with financial covenants and payments are set forth on a predictable
schedule. Principle plus and interest and fees will be part of these
loan agreements, and personal guarantees are often required to be given
by the owner or co-signers. The costs of such loans can be high, but
this option usually allows the owner to maintain nearly complete control
over their business.
Crowdfunding can be an option for startup designers.
Sites like Kickstarter and Gofundme are places where startups can
pitch their ideas to the Internet, and ask people to invest (often small
amounts) in their visions. While these sites may often not be able to
raise enough money to launch a brand, they can reach a wide
audience, and designers can see who is interested in their products. Of
course, brands should look to all possible funding alternatives, but
crowdfunding shouldn’t be ruled out completely.
In all, while starting a fashion brand can be a daunting and
expensive task, there are numerous options available when it comes to
financing and funding it. From friends and family to venture
capitalists, personal and business loans, or even crowdfunding on the
Internet, a dedicated and inspired designer can usually find a way to
fund their dream brand.
Virtual and Augmented Reality are starting to revolutionize
the way industries approach their customers, and the fashion industry is
Technology has come a long way, but consumers’ closets have largely
been untouched by its innovation. Designers and brands now, however, are
aiming to change that, with the implementation of VR and AR
technologies. It’s making it easier than ever before to browse clothing
from the comfort of one’s home, and possibly even try things on, in a
digital wardrobe sort of way. Brands are also starting to adopt virtual
showrooms, which are basically online showrooms that allow online
consumers to see and shop for the items in a way that’s eerily similar
to an in-store experience.
One of the main benefits of creating a virtual showroom is its omnipresence.
Anyone with a working WiFi connection and phone or laptop can access
the room, thus allowing brands and designers to showcase their
collections to a truly international audience. Of course, Internet
shopping has always allowed this (one of its many features), but virtual
showrooms offer a way to get up close and personal with the products.
Customers can see how the clothing looks on a mannequin and get a 360
degree view. In addition, brands can recreate their in-store experiences
for the online consumer; luxury brands have long been hesitant to sell
products online due to their perceived lack of exclusivity and service,
but virtual showrooms can change that. Now, brands are able to recreate
their physical stores for the online space, and with the added option of
chatting with a representative online, can seamlessly transfer a
physical experience into an online one.
Jimmy Choo was one of the first luxury brands to launch a virtual showroom
which allowed its consumers to browse and pre-order certain shoes and
accessories from their A/W collection, creating a unique and memorable
Augmented Reality is also another technology that designers can use to their advantage.
AR, like VR, can create a different kind of fashion showroom – have
users simply use their phones to see what a certain product might look
like on their own bodies.
Chrono24’s virtual showroom allows users to try on any watch from the comfort of their own home
with a simple app and wristband setup (which can be printed and cut at
home). In doing so, their virtual showroom offers an immense amount of
flexibility and efficiency, as it gives consumers a chance to see the
product on their wrists without having to go physically in-store to do
so. There are currently only a few models available, but the company
plans on adding more to their AR showroom soon. It’s a truly innovative
and special way for consumers to shop, and it could truly change the way
online shopping and e-commerce companies sell their products.
These are, however, only a few of the ways in which AR and VR can
transform the fashion industry. While the technology is still being
developed and tweaked, there are already exciting advances being made.
Consumers can expect to see virtual dressing rooms and VR
experiences for the runway soon. Fast fashion brands such as Topshop and
Zara have begun to embrace both VR and AR, but luxury brands,
like Balenciaga, are also starting to join in. It is exciting to imagine
the possibilities that could come with new and improved VR technology –
wouldn’t it be far easier to try on clothes in a virtual dressing room
from the comfort of your own home? No longer do customers need to go
in-store to see how a particular piece may fit on their body. It could
truly revolutionize the way people shop online, and could possibly
provide access to a far wider audience.
In all, it will be interesting to see how technology continues to
influence and change the fashion industry. Virtual showrooms are only
the beginning – VR and AR will shape the way consumers, designers, and
brands all interact with fashion.
There are thousands of ways companies can innovate and
expand, especially when it comes to fashion, and 3D printing seems to be
the next big thing.
The fashion industry has traditionally been at the forefront of many
modern technologies, so it only makes sense that it would adopt 3D
printing as well. The future of 3D printing is not in haute couture,
however, it is not far from it – people will one day be able to print
their own clothes at home, customized and fitted to perfection. While
the technology is not completely there yet, once it is fully
implemented, 3D printing and its uses could redefine the entire
3D printing, when it comes to fashion, is still in its infancy.
Most established fashion houses have not touched the technology, save
for some designers, such as Iris van Herpen, known for her famously
avant-garde creations. While actually accessible 3D printed clothing is a
long way off, if more designers start to champion the technology, it
could trickle down into mass production.
One of the many benefits of 3D printing is that it would be much easier to produce garments that are your exact measurements.
This could be absolutely revolutionary for the industry – printing your
clothes at home generates endless possibilities for both designers and
consumers alike, and is something that is both innovative and
utilitarian. Imagine simply pressing a button and having a perfectly
tailored dress or pants printed inside your home, without the need to
take a trip to your tailor or boutique.
Another way in which 3D printing could revolutionize the industry comes in the form of sustainability.
With textiles, there is always an incredible amount of waste left over.
3D printing, however, could significantly cut down on this waste, and
create ways in which designers can be more environmentally conscious
while still producing their best work. Through the use of this
technology, designers can explore a new route to sustainable fashion.
The industry has long been known for its unsustainable practices – it
consumes an enormous amount of resources, and amasses a vast amount of
waste, making the production of most apparel non-environmentally
friendly. It’s a serious problem that needs to be looked at with a more
3D printing could provide the necessary elements needed to increase
fashion’s sustainability. Of course, the technology is not quite at this
level. In order to create a more sustainable future, the 3D printing
process could take years to perfect, but the core principles are there.
Once more designers begin to adopt and experiment with the printing
process, actually sustainable, zero-waste fashion could become a
The problem at the forefront of this movement is the highly conceptual material. Consumers
do not want fully plastic apparel; they want something that is natural
and flexible and easy to wear, much like the cotton and Lycra clothing
of today. Most people cannot nor do they want to wear an architectural
couture gown. In addition, they need accessible and affordable garments.
Most cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars for an avant-garde dress
– they need something that is more functional and priced at their
budget. The technology is evolving, however, and will continue to
progress quickly as more innovative techniques are brought out.
Hopefully, by then, many designers, and not just Iris van Herpen, will
openly embrace the process.
In all, the future of 3D printing seems to be pointing
towards allowing individual designers and consumers to print their own
apparel at home. While both the materials and technology are
not quite there yet, there are advances being made every day. The
process will bring something revolutionary and cutting-edge to the
industry, and will move from the conceptual runways of Iris van Herpen
to regular consumers’ homes instead. With a seamless blend of both
fashion and technology, 3D printing could become the next big thing for
Every year, online and e-commerce retailers
report massive profit and sales growth, reflecting the ever-increasing
popularity of Internet shopping.
Giants like Walmart and Amazon have seemingly taken over
the virtual shopping cart market, making it ever harder and harder for
offline retailers to compete. Brick and Mortar businesses are being
forced to adapt – quickly and effectively – if they wish to stay afloat.
What can struggling retailers do to keep up with the
highly-competitive and extremely fast-paced e-commerce world to both
grow and to keep their real world doors open in the long run? There are
number of things brick and mortar companies have done to achieve
success, and this article briefly considers only a few of them.
Understand your customers and offer them the right incentives.
Every established business knows its customers, or can
discover who they are and what they most want. Sometimes customers may
seem hard to understand, but when one really looks at the data, quite a
bit can be discovered. What do the financials say after a little cost
accounting is applied? Do certain items sell faster than others
(inventory turnover), or are they always needing to be replenished? Does
some inventory sit on the shelf too long or become obsolete? How are
the best-sellers picked up or delivered? Gathering a few metrics in this
fashion will likely help a business know just how to better focus its
resources on its best and fastest selling products and services,
resulting in higher profits.
Once one knows their business’s best and fasting selling
products and services, the question is how to incentivize old and new
customers alike to buy even more from their, and not from an online
retailer or competitor? In many cases, quality may not be an issue, as
brick and mortar retail makes it so much easier for customers to inspect
before they buy, as well as make returns when defects are discovered.
For this reason, brick and mortar may choose to focus its energy on
price, speed of delivery, and convenience. Essentially beat online
retail at its own game! Amazon may be able to deliver in as little as 24
hours, but to your local customers, you may be able to deliver as soon
as you receive an email or phone call order. What are your prices as
compared to your online competition? In many cases, you will find that
when you consider total cost, including shipping, that because you can
deliver locally, you are more price competitive than non-local
Even if you can beat Internet Retail, consider joining them in the e-commerce world.
Your brick-and-mortar retail store can still be your
main base, but opening up your audience to the Internet can come with
massive benefits. Online sales are projected to continue growing every
year, and a high number of small American businesses are still not
effectively using the Internet to promote and run their business, or
they may lack any web presence at all. Without joining the e-commerce
world, it can be difficult to try and compete with the ever-advancing
world of technology. A high number of your new and prospective customers
are only searching for the goods or services you provide on their
mobile devices. If you are not listed as a business on Google, or Yelp,
or the like, you are guaranteed to be missing out on sales opportunities
because you simply cannot be found by the only search methods being
applied. There is a strong case that every business needs to have a
website as well as multiple social media accounts. Owners and managers
may benefit from taking courses on promoting their business via social
media and via other online means. An online presence can and may be
vital to brick and mortar survival.
When creating an e-commerce presence seamlessly integrate it with the offline experience.
A brick and mortar business with Web-presence should
offer its customers a single shopping experience. Product and service
information should be the same in both places. Everything should be
branded with the same look and experience, as well as easy to find, or
confusion may result in lost sales. If a discount is offered online, but
not in store, there should be a reason why the customer is being
incentivized to purchase online. Some business will incentivize its
customers to shop online because they can get a discount for picking up
their purchases in-store rather than having them shipped or delivered.
This option also gives the retailer an opportunity to make additional
sales. The customer will be exposed to additional products and services
available when arriving for pick-up of the initial order.
In all, there are many ways for a brick and mortar
retailer to compete in the digital age. Retailers should examine their
customer data to see what they are really buying, and why, and then
focus on ways to further incentivize them towards generating more sales.
If a retailer is not online, with a web site and social media accounts,
there is an argument for immediately getting online. A lot of
prospective customers are only searching for your products and services
via these digital avenues today. Finally, a retailer joining the
internet world needs to remember to make sure their business is
seamlessly integrated with their real world and internet offerings in
order to avoid confusion.
Roberto Mangual – Fashion Software Expert
Exenta’s drive for fashion software excellence begins with CEO Roberto Mangual’s unrelenting focus, operational expertise and strategic vision. Mr. Mangual lives his life Without Limits, and his passion and commitment is evident in every aspect of his life.
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