To coincide with Fashion Week this year, here are the top business ideas and innovations from the industry.
The fashion industry’s quest to find sustainable, recycled material has seen everything from salmon skin to plastic bottles being transformed into clothing material. Now, targeting the niche tree wastage industry, Organic Lingerie recycles unwanted pine trees and creates luxury underwear pieces from them.
Taking another resourceful approach to material sourcing, luxury clothing company Petite Mort Fur found an ingenious solution for those seeking the authenticity of real fur — by using animals it can verify either died of natural causes or in an accident. In doing so, they remove part of the guilt often associated with buying real fur.
One of the biggest trends in innovation this year is without a doubt surrounding the potential of 3D printing. In terms of beauty, we saw bioprinting startup Organovo team up with L’Oreal to begin introducing 3D printed human skin tissue for use in cosmetics testing. The technology also made its way into cosmetic surgery, where MirrorMe3D is offering customers the option to print out miniature replicas of their post-surgery face, so they can get a peak of their new face from every angle.
And an equally exciting area is, of course, wearable tech. We saw Australia-based startup Wearable:Experiments introduce its location-enabled Navigation Paris range, which comes pre-programmed with a detailed map of the city. The jacket works by delivering vibrations on each sleeve to signal turns — a small vibration signifies a slight veer, while a big vibration means take a hard turn. The technology hopes to enhance its wearer’s travel experience by enabling them to walk around an unfamiliar city without hunching over a map or a smartphone. In Japan, Jins Meme eyewear integrated sensor technology in their eyewear, which tracks its wearer’s tiredness and posture and sends reports to a companion app.
With mass production becoming a norm in high street fashion, the super-customization trend is creating a counterforce for those who value unique, well-fitted tailoring. Qcut, a denim maker, is offering 400 different sizes to create a perfect fit for every woman. Their jeans are made according to five measurements — height, weight, shoe size, typical jean size and bra size — as opposed to the standard waist size and leg length option. Looking again at Japan, eyewear company JINS have created an app which lets customers alter their frames, adding colors, patterns, stamps, photos, or even messages to their new frames.
Smartwatches, too, are now seeing super-customization options. Blocks, a London-based startup created a smartwatch with modular straps, which can be made up of varying components so the wearer can tailor the watch’s function to their specific needs. For example, an active customer can choose the GPS location, extra battery, and heartrate monitor blocks, while others can get a large screen for reading notifications, a microphone block for recording voice notes, and have a gesture control block for extra convenience. Another smartwatch innovation is the Kairos T-band, which is a smart band that can be fitted onto any existing watch. It features a small screen and standard smartwatch functions.
To add a layer of security for the various contactless devices being carried around nowadays, fashion brand The Affair has developed a range that features the UnPocket. These are pouches made of metal-infused fabrics and attached to shirts, chinos, and jackets, which blocks all wifi, GPS, cell and RFID signal. As a result, the wearer’s mobile phones, credit cards and chipped passports can remain disconnected. It means that location can’t be gleaned through GPS or cell tower triangulation, and thieves can’t remotely skim data from contactless cards.
Though fashion and coding don’t usually appear in the same sentence, it is a welcome surprise when they do. Joining a stream of devices that aim to teach kids about programming, Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls. Connected by Bluetooth, the bracelets can light up or change color when friends are near, and as the young wearers become more experienced, they can design more complicated and creative responses, all the while learning the fundamentals of computer science.
In the ecommerce sphere, we’re seeing a couple of plugins being created to enhance the customer experience. Try is a Google Chrome plugin that enables customers to try out multiple garments at home for ten days and only pay for the ones they keep. Anyone can install the plugin onto their browser and use the service with participating retailers such as Zara, Asos, J. Crew, and more. A gifting button from Loop can now also be installed, to enable users to choose and purchase a gift online, but leave the specifics, such as size and color, up to the recipient.
We also saw an interesting product that takes steps towards thinking about how wearables could be used to help clean the environment. The Sponge Suit is an item of eco apparel made from an outer layer of 3D printed elasto-plastic and a hydrophobic, carbon-based filler material which acts as a sponge. Effectively, the suit will enable its wearer to absorb pollutants in the surrounding water. The designers envision a large suit-cleaning infrastructure that will heat the suits to clean them, then remold them into a new suit. How else could apparel be more environmentally productive?
It is heartening to see recycling making a place for itself in a multi-faceted way in the fashion industry. Uruguayan shoe brand Mamut, for a two week period, let customers exchange plastic bottles they have used or collected for their summer shoe line. The brand hopes to assist a drive to clean up local beaches. How else could recycling be encouraged in this industry?
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