2020: The Year Tech Helped Fashion Adapt, Innovate & Grow By FashNerd.com

It is hard to believe that 2020 has a silver lining, but it does. Yes, we have been vulnerable and unsure, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that COVID-19 has forced the fashion industry to rethink how it does business has led to the acceleration and demand for digital. As we continue to shift through challenges towards the next normal, the good news is that in 2021 it is likely that technology will continue to play a critical role in bridging the gap between the old and the new.

A Year Like No Other

2020 tested our resilience. Unrelenting, it has made an impact that will most likely be felt for decades to come. The silver lining has been the acceleration of innovation. Retooling the fashion industry, we have been able to adapt to the new normal and build a more robust outlook that is capable of taking us forward. With each sector showing visible scars, fashion's saving grace was that it turned to advanced technologies to help them tackle the kind of challenges that we, as an industry, were not prepared for.

2020 has not only been the year of social awakening; we saw a rise in the adoption of various technologies. The superhero of the year, technology has played a critical role in helping an industry, which was once reluctant to adopt, transform and prosper. No one can deny that technology played an essential role in the fashion industry's growth since the beginning of the pandemic.

Before the next chapter can begin, it is imperative to review the moments that defined 2020. It is was not all bad; there were fashion stories of resilience in areas like beauty, education, luxury, retail, b2b and AR/VR. More than just another snapshot of another year gone by, these moments have successfully changed the industry's vision of what the future of fashion will look like especially when it comes to topics like sustainability and inclusivity. And that change, my friend, can only be a good, no, actually a great thing!

Muchaneta Kapfunde, Founding Editor-in-Chief, FASHNERD.COM

The Importance of Digitising Fashion

Let's start with some hard truth. It is a well-known fact that 2020 revealed two types of businesses; those who couldn't survive and those who emerged better positioned for a future that still seems so uncertain.

Fashion businesses with digital know-how have been able to move quickly and successfully build through the crisis. Turning to their digital and analytics capabilities, some businesses have managed to navigate through the now, towards the light at the end of the tunnel .

With a competitive advantage, digitising has made it easier for forward-thinking fashion brands to adopt agile ways of working that not only strengthen their digital-centred business but also prepare them for the next normal.

The Rise Of Born Digital Brands

Changing the notion of fast fashion, DressX “Don’t shop less, shop digital fashion” has been taking the fashion industry by storm. Already applauded in rags like Vice, Vogue Italia, Forbes US and Nylon Magazine, DressX founders Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova have been sharing the beauty and excitement that physical fashion creates.

Shapovalova and Modenova believe that there are ways to produce less, to produce more sustainably, and not to produce at all. At the current stage of DressX development, the founders aim to show that some clothes can exist only in their digital versions. As the first international digital fashion multi-brand retailer, DressX carries digital fashion collections from most well-known contemporary brands, born in the physical world – and in digital space.


Transparency is No Longer ‘Nice to Have’.

Global leader in materials science and manufacturing Avery Dennison’s foresight report, “The New Transparency” outlines solutions that enable businesses to offer consumers a higher level of trust than ever before.

The report, commissioned in partnership with forecasting consultancy The Future Laboratory, is the first of a content series to be released over the upcoming twelve months. It underlines the importance of transparency as a powerful tool capable of giving businesses unprecedented control over their supply chains and their environmental footprint while offering consumers increased visibility, safety and education.

How Did New Businesses Benefit During The Pandemic?

Are you aspiring to start a clothing line in 2020? In these perilous times, there is no denying that the future of fashion has become uncertain. So much so that for those thinking of starting their clothing line in what is arguably a chaotic upside-down world, timing has become everything.


Eon x Microsoft Pledge, Perfect Timing?

Microsoft and Eon partnered up in 2020 to bring 400 million products online by 2025. It is a collaboration that introduced an industry-wide digital foundation for a connected and circular economy across fashion, apparel and retail.

Are You Ready to Efficiently Translate Your 3D Designs into Well-Fitting Products?

2020 was the year that a new Digital Fitting Lab came into town. Hohenstein, an international testing partner in the textile industry, gave brands, retailers and suppliers access to advanced fitting and visualization services to implement their 3D design process.

It is no secret that most fashion businesses who work with to review and optimize their processes, adapt them to 3D. If you want to implement an effective digital workflow, then Digital Fitting Lab covers all requirements when it comes to successfully and efficiently translating 3D designs into well-fitting products.

The lab offers digital design technologies, to reduce physical prototypes and material waste, shorten development times, develop more accurate fit across sizes and create engaging imagery for sales and marketing.


Beauty Tech, at Your Service

Technology partnered with science has been turning ideas into breakthrough products for a few years now. In 2020, the merger of beauty with technology introduced more advanced digital tools designed to innovate an industry that seems open to change. Combining Artificial Intelligence with Augmented Reality, customers have been able to access a more personalised, tailor-made approach to beauty.

Driving growth and shaping the future of the beauty industry technology has found a way of coming up with the perfect formulation the industry's beauty needs and desires, and the best is yet to come.


The Downside of Plant-and-Plastic Hybrids

As the second-largest polluter in the world, after the oil industry, the fashion industry has been turning to material innovation as its potential superhero. In 2020 the pressure to address problems like plastic waste, have resulted in the birth of Deep Science x High Design, Memory Wool Fabric With Super Abilities and vegan cactus leather.

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the forefront of many fashion businesses in 2020, the industry, in all this madness, continued to search for a new approach to how fashion does business.

Although in 2020 we continued to celebrate material innovations, we also realised that teh industry has a certain naiveté when it comes to understanding the full picture. The revolution of materials is a lot more complicated than is portrayed by those marketing the innovations. The use of “sustainability marketing trickery”, a term used by Dr Ashley Holding and Paula Lorenz, has unfortunately led to excitement about the innovation milestones which come across exceptional on paper, but what about in practice, do they deliver?

The Denim Industry: Fluent in Accountability, Responsibility, and Sustainability

Being able to create a sustainable textile supply chain successfully has become the holy grail for the denim industry. Driven by the fact that the denim supply chain uses over 20,000 liters of water to produce one pair of jeans, 2020 was the year that we saw many more denim businesses trying to solve the problems by integrating transparency to create a cleaner and safer supply chain.

On a path of redemption, the denim industry recently introduced ISKO’s sustainability report. Centered on EPD’s (Environmental Product Declarations), the report looks at how the denim industry, as a whole, can achieve bluesign approved accreditation by the end of 2020.


Marrying Education and Fashion Tech

Ready to get a solid foundation in integrating electronics into your fashion project?

2020 was the year that many startups had to reinvent their approach to business and LOOMIA was one of them. Led by CEO and founder Maddy Maxey, they made the decision to educate the industry- no background in tech, engineering, or electrics required.

Famous for building e-textile systems for household names like Google and Microsoft, LOOMIA has designed a course around the needs of beginners. Created for professionals across design and engineering who want to upskill, the Prototyping 101 workshop is a significant first step for those looking to work for hands-on with soft, flexible electronics.

The next enrollment period is Jan 20th - Jan 31st 2021. Join the waiting list now.


The Importance of Remaining Relevant

In 2020 many luxury brands hit reset. Adapting to remain relevant, we witnessed more and more up-scale fashion brands changing direction, mainly due to COVID-19 acting as an accelerator but also because of the fast-changing cultural climate.

With change underway, luxury brands are turning to technology to provide consumers with value-led experiences that not only help them engage with affluent consumers but also drive much needed positive change.

With “Elevated essentialism” predicted by experts to be one of the key themes to take centre stage in 2021, I will not be surprised if luxury brands use technological tools to come across more grounded, authentic and more conscious.


When Fashion met AR & Gaming

This was the year the merger of fashion and gaming found its voice. The industry leant that many millennials want their style to not only to be defined by what they wear but also by what they experience. Listening to the demands of the millennial consumer, some businesses have come up with a different type of product, one where fashion meets AR and gaming.

In February 2020 we were introduced to RTFKT, a London based startup made up of a collective of gaming and fashion creators. They came up with a different type sneaker that operates like a game studio mixed with a luxury artisan workshop. The gaming culture and skins inspired RTFKT promises an experience unlike anything that exists today. The RTFKT team are making a name for themselves with their next-gen sneakers.


Virtual Solution, Rewriting The Business Rules of Engagement

In 2020 the pandemic dictated how the fashion industry did business, including tradeshows. It was no longer business as usual. Big trade shows like Premiere Vision and Munich Fabric Start could no longer offer the industry a platform where the meeting of minds could take place. With uncertainty plaguing many tradeshows, many fashion based shows were cancelled.

The solution on offer for the more experimental event creators was presenting a virtual trade show. The software, although not perfect, is paving the way for businesses moving towards an all-virtual sales experiences.

2020 was definitely year of championing virtual trade shows. With relatively low costs and substantial ROI, virtual trade shows promised to attract more diverse exhibitors and attendees. So will this be the innovation that grows in strength in 2021? Only time will tell.

Final Thoughts: Why It’s Time For Fashion To Dream Big

I believe that the 2021 has the potential to become the decade known for game-changing innovation. Technologically, the jump is already proving to be having a huge influence in some parts of the industry, and is drastically changing the way we shop.

Now is the time to recognise that change will be mainly driven by the customer looking for experiences that are capable of redefining what it means to own something. With advances in technology growing by the season, brands have the opportunity to bring a whole new experience to the table that allows consumers to try new styles and trends in a more immersive way.

So hold on tight, because the fashion industry is not only destined but is already becoming more intelligent and more automatic, making now the perfect time for fashion businesses to dream big.

Coming in 2021


Watch this space!

Created By
Muchaneta Kapfunde


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