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The Technological Transformation of Luxury

February 2023

Martha Copsey

Technology is growing exponentially and is redefining the way industries and businesses operate. It is helping them to be more innovative, accessible, and visible. The fashion industry is no exception and is being transformed in all aspects.

Top luxury brands are experimenting with technology and are taking industry standards to a much higher platform. Here are some of the significant ways technology has been seen to impact the fashion industry:

Artificial Intelligence

Fashion may not be the first industry to come to mind when thinking about artificial intelligence, but brands are pushing the limits of in-store experiences and production, whilst embracing tech trends to ensure the best consumer experience.

The process of trend forecasting has transformed from what is known to be a very labour-intensive process. It is now done by collecting data from users and thus, allowing brands to have access to information about consumer preferences. They can therefore plan the styles and products consumers would love and what quantity of each product has to be manufactured. This not only reduces the time of production and labour resources used by the brands but also reduces the scale of waste, thus helping the industry be more sustainable.

Heuritech, which was founded in 2013, is a company that has developed a proprietary image recognition technology to analyse fashion images on social media. This technology has been a powerful tool in analysing and anticipating what is currently trending. Brands including Dior and Louis Vuitton have used the brand in order to stay ahead of the next big trends and improve demand planning with predictive analytics on trend lifecycles.

3D Printing

3D printing is another type of technology that is being used to transform the fashion industry. Garments are printed layer by layer with a flexible filament to create 3D structures that fit the body shape. It creates new possibilities for personalisation as brands can produce unique items based on an individual’s specific needs and wants. The process would also reduce the wait times for availability and shipments.

3D printing, therefore, means brands can produce small batches at a time, which is particularly valuable for exclusive luxury brands that only hold limited inventory. 3D printing also gives accessibility to improved fabrics which will help luxury brands benefit, as high-quality craftsmanship is important. Another major advantage is the type of clothing produced from 3D printing is a lot easier to recycle because the filaments and plastics used in the process are strong and biodegradable. The fashion industry plays a key role in the causes of the climate crisis, but 3D printing could save up to 90% of the natural resources needed for manufacturing apparel.

In the SS23 show at Paris Fashion Week, Coperni showcased 3D printing in action when they quite literally spray-painted Bella Hadid with a spray-on fabric dress. The spray-on fabric was applied using the aerosol technology, industrial sprayers and 3D printing.

The Metaverse

It is difficult to define the metaverse but think of it as a hyper-interactive, creative digital environment where people work, play, socialise and shop. For the fashion industry, it is a fantastic means for new opportunities to engage Gen Zs and tech-savvy consumers.

A huge part of the metaverse, that is a prime target for the fashion industry is the $176 billion gaming industry, which attracts over 3 billion players globally each year. Gaming provides a new market for brands that can gain revenue from sales of digital clothing and accessories to a younger audience.

A brand that is using the metaverse and gaming industry is Ralph Lauren. The company partnered with the South Korean social media app, Zepeto, to create a virtual fashion collection where users could dress avatars in exclusive products or appearance-altering ‘skins’. These games are giving users the opportunity to acquire luxury digital clothes for their avatars and appeal to their psychological needs of affording luxury without thinking twice. These virtual collections are eroding the idea and reputation that the luxury industry has- that is inaccessible to Gen Zs.

Technology has a huge part to play in today’s fashion industry and is advancing and evolving daily. Most notably, it is assisting the industry to advance further into being sustainable by creating more sustainable manufacturing processes, allowing more revenue streams, and reshaping how clothing and accessories are designed and marketed.

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