Technology continues to reshape every aspect of the financial industry. However that is not the only sector where it is making an impact.

The fashion industry is growing at a rapid speed and will continue to get even bigger. The industry as a whole is embracing adventurous opportunities – and tech is fuelling the boom.

According to the State of Fashion, 2019 McKinsey report, this year will be one of awakening for the fashion industry. Asia-Pacific is the region which will see the most significant growth, with 51% of surveyed executives expecting the luxury sector to make more profits over the course of this year

The US now faces stiff competition from China as it is expected to overtake the US for the first time as the largest fashion market in the world.

Technology, alongside the potential disruption from geopolitical and macroeconomic events will drive the direction of innovation and growth. Retailers are leveraging technology to enhance the in-store and online experience with strong digital marketing and a seamless check-out experience.

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For example, the Madura Fashion & Lifestyle launched the “Van Heusen Style Studio.” It harnessed augmented reality to display outfits and designs on the customers themselves.

Wearables, smart fabrics, augmented and virtual reality are all coming into play. As the technology that powers wearables gets smarter, fashion brands are driving the next evolution of the wearable market. Mastercard noted that now one in five adults wear a smart watch or fitness strap.

Furthermore, by 2020, the wearable tech market will be worth €30bn globally. This is a fast moving market that is certainly one to watch.

One of the first companies to enter fashion tech was Sony with their smart watch strap – Wena. The “Wear Electronics Naturally” strap incorporates quick contactless payment, advanced fitness tracking and direct link-ups for phone notifications. Furthermore, it is all merged created into luxury timepiece design.

However, technology is no stranger to fashion. From Smart fabrics to models wearing Google Glass on the runway it is clear that wearable tech will increasingly feature in shaping the future of fashion trends.

Executive Vice President, Digital Solutions Mastercard, Jorn Lambert, said: “With fashion shows taking place in New York, London and Milan this month and Mobile World Congress Barcelona about to get underway, there’s no better time to talk about the future of wearables. In the fashion world, trends such as athleisure remain steadfast.

“Meanwhile, technology is getting faster and smaller, speaking to those same consumers seeking minimalist and seamless, but well-designed options. Now technology and fashion brands need to work together to end consumer confusion over whether devices are fashion accessories, tech hardware or fitness tools.”

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Shaping the future of fashion tech

Both the fashion and tech industries act as extensions of oneself and for wearable technology to be attractive to consumers it must appeal to both.

This could take the form of a diamond cuff or metallic watch. It’s an innovative way for brands to enter a new market. Furthermore, fashion will reach a new, digitally connected environment.

However, it is continuing to evolve far past that.

Amazon has patented a virtual mirror where a user can try products on at home. The mirror uses a mix of displays, cameras, and projectors to create the blended image. The imagined mirror works by scanning the environment around and generates a virtual model. It then authenticates the face and eyes of the user to determine which objects are to be seen as a reflection. Once this process is completed, the virtual clothes and scene are transmitted through the mirror to create the blended-reality result.

Forever 21 partnered with Donde Search to create Discover Your Style. The tool is a visual search functionality that locates items from features such as a specific colour or silhouette.

And the interest is mutual. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director, has expressed his love for tech by experimenting with partially 3D-printed pieces and runway shows that run simulations.

The London College of Fashion’s Fashion Innovation Agency (FIA) is constantly seeking new ways to bring together the worlds of fashion and retail.

Fashion innovation agency

Credit: Fashion innovation agency

The FIA explores various technologies from augmented reality, wearables and virtual reality to reinvent the way fashion is perceived.

One of the projects that the agency is working on is Westfield’s ‘Destination 2028’. This concept aims to show what could possibly be the shopping centre of the future. The project includes hanging sensory gardens and AI-enabled walkways, giving consumers a glimpse into the future of the shopping experience.

Westfield

It is innovations like this that will completely transform the future of fashion tech. Experience will remain a key driver, however the developments will be accelerated by tech-enabled experiences catering for the future generation of consumers.

2019 will be the year that the industry will see these tools fully integrate into the day-to-day shopping experience.