Watch each topic of this Fashion Tech Panel on our YouTube channel:
[Part 1] Is Artificial Intelligence Killing Creativity? (Guest Speaker: Peter Jeun Ho Tsang)
[Part 2] New Retail: The Future of the Physical Store? (Guest Speaker: Sandy Bontout)
[Part 3] Can Influencer Marketing Drive Sustainable Fashion? (Guest Speaker: Kamila Boudova)
[Part 4] Are Robots the Fashion Artisans of the Future? (Guest Speaker: Jean-Marc Chauve)
What do humans, buildings, landfills, spirituality and robots have in common?
Ahead of the launch of its’ fashion tech program, IFA Paris held a panel on Wednesday 26th September, focused on the role of tech in modern fashion. Anastasios Sofroniou took expert panelists on a flight over the fashion tech terrain from design to production, to retail and sustainability.
Peter Jeun Ho Tsang opened the night, unraveling the rising role of artificial intelligence in creativity and fashion design. Peter stressed the importance of the unpredictability of human inspiration as the source of authenticity in fashion design. While admitting improvements in the speed and efficiency of the design process, Peter foresees a future where creativity remains an inherently human function, facilitated and transmitted through technology.
Next, Sandy Bontout opened a window to the future of fashion retail. She highlighted the operational and financial advantages of efficient omni-channels, which increasingly leverage the efficiency of online order fulfillment and the enriching experience of in-store shopping. Sandy noted that against this trend, customers still prefer to research products online and purchase in store. In addition to these, Sandy explained the rising trend of celebrity-affine creative directors as against the tradition of appointing purely creative directors. She tied this to the ever-rising influence of the digital world on fashion as well as the role of celebrity influencers in it.
Influencers remained center stage as Kamila Boudova, a global voice in sustainable fashion took the stage. Kamila stressed the need to reform the perspective on sustainability before influencers can drive consumption of sustainable fashion. She lauds micro-influencers, who given their authenticity are better equipped to drive fashion towards sustainability. More importantly, she shared her experience in encouraging brands to pursue sustainability with sincerity. The industry would not become sustainable overnight, but with every millimeter push by all the players in fashion, the industry can move irreversibly towards sustainability. She warned against the trend of greenwashing small segments of the product line, in efforts to appear sustainable, stating that the short-term convenience of greenwashing is unsustainable. From this perspective, she highlights the role of the consumer in driving demand for sustainable fashion. She advocates a values-driven approach to replace the prevailing mindset of deal-hunting, which in her personal experience affords a stronger spiritual connection. She feels good knowing the garments she wears are not harming the planet that gifted them to her.
IFA Paris’ Creative Director, Jean-Marc Chauve closed the night with an assessment of the ability of robots to be fashion artisans. Jean-Marc pointed out how limitations to robotic production of luxury garments. On the one hand, the most advanced machines are still unable to handle supple fabrics, which are the mainstay of luxury garments. More so, machines are still incapable of executing the complicated and intricate designs of most garments. Beyond this, fashion businesses also need to consider the social implications of the shift to automation. Between the human rights abuses that plague the traditional outsourcing industry and the job losses that may result from total replacement of humans by machines, brands need to understand the merits and demerits of robot artisans on their brand equity.