Fashion & Technology: What brands can learn from the 2016 Met Gala

The first Monday of May is a time for celebration in the fashion world. Each year, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a fundraiser gala that celebrates a different theme – one that crosses cultural boundaries. This year was no exception. The theme for the 2016 Met Gala, Manus x Machina, payed homage to fashion in the tech world, and vice versa. In past years, haute couture especially has been rather archaic. Ateliers create one-of-a-kind pieces that can take hundreds of hours to produce by hand, the opposite of the forward-thinking, lightening-speed approach of the technology industry. And tech giants aren’t exactly sitting front row at Givenchy admiring the spring collection…

Fashion and technology aren’t a new couple
This unlikely pair have been courting for years. Fashion designers have been using 3-D printing to creative one-of-a-kind pieces that were either far too laborious in past years or were simply not possible by hand. Hussein Chalayan, for example, used technology to create unique melt-away dresses that were reminiscent of childhood science lessons. Similarly, Steve Jobs and Apple showed the world that gadgets could be accessories; they could be sleek and chic. Carrying an iPhone is a statement, wearing Beats headphones is a statement, wearing Chanel tweed is a statement; all show who we are, the kind of lives we lead, the kind of people we want to be.

This intersection of fashion and technology’s exactly what marketers and brands are trying to understand in more depth each day, particularly with customer experience, customer interaction, and predictive analytics. So where do we expect to see it go? Where will fashion brands investing? What will tech giants determine to be the new “it bag” of the season?

Augmented Reality will change typical consumer interactions
Lately we’ve heard much about augmented reality and virtual reality, but it still seems like a distant dream. However, with the recent mainstream release of gadgets like the Samsung Gear VR, Shiseido Makeup Mirror, and TopShop’s Kinect dressing rooms, marketers have a chance to give consumers a totally new experience with their brands. They can put more products directly in front of the consumer that wants to see them, to test them out. As a brand, we want our customers to have an experience with us, not just an interaction. This is why brick-and-mortar stores haven’t become extinct. We still want that connection to the senses. We want to see a shirt up close, navigate the dimensions of a sofa before purchasing.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are bridging the gap between 3-D photos of the past and futuristic Matrix-type experiences of the future. Marketers should be getting ahead of the game and investing their time and research into these new consumer experiences that are no doubt gearing to become our new “reality”.

Biometrics is the future of customization
In marketing, we’ve been focusing on a continual development of personalization and customization for consumers. While we can use buyer personas and analytics to predict behaviors and trends in groups of people, each person will be just slightly more unique.
Biometrics in the fashion industry will allow consumers to have a “second skin” understand the needs of their body. The technology of the clothes can help consumers display their optimal self.

Typically, when we have really great technology or practicality in clothing, we sacrifice style. Ralph Lauren’s US Open smart shirt was proof that we can look great and still let the clothes we live in work for us. While most biometric smart clothes are focused on athletic-wear, this is a great collaboration for the athleisure departments of high fashion brands. It is also a great opportunity for fashion ateliers to create unique pieces that are better suited for individual clientele.

How can your product or your branding introduce these biometric qualities to better understand your customer and their unique needs?

Bid farewell to the quest for “the perfect pair (of jeans)”
Many artists have questioned whether fashion truly is art but while mainstream realists have questioned whether the works of the runway are truly practical. Athleisure pushed the bar for practicality in a world that was built purely on aesthetics. Smart fabrics will become the thread that connects the ornamental with the livable. We will see clothing that adds value to the lives of those wearing it, not just protection from the elements.

BioCouture is merging technology with eco-friendly resources to introduce earth friendly materials to high fashion. In the past, textiles have focused on the same fibers and materials used for hundreds of years: cotton, silk, wool. Technology will allow for a better fit, a better wearability, durability, and an artistic expression of the one wearing it. CuteCircuit was actually ahead of this year’s Met ball theme when they dressed Katy Perry in a light up dress for the 2010 gala.

A courtship will become a lifelong marriage
In coming years, we will kiss goodbye the days where fashion was only focused on artistic compilation of fabric and silhouette. With the introduction of Top Pitch, a true marriage between fashion and technology, and Apple’s recent hiring of fashion designer Paul Deneve (formerly of power house Yves Saint Laurent), we can expect to see the two worlds becoming a power couple in no time. Regardless of industries, we can learn that the two cultures – fashion and technology – are not mutually exclusive and that our brands could use a healthy infusion of both.

Crystal Konz

Administrative Assistant

<p>Crystal’s official title is ‘office manager,’ but she likes to think of herself as ‘office caretaker, decorator and personal assistant.’ In her free time she likes to spend hours perusing Pinterest, cooking and baking, doing makeup for weddings, and binge watching Netflix.</p>

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