There are now more fashion tech events than you can shake a stick at. The organisers of Decoded Fashion and Munich Fabric Start are kickstarting much-needed conversations between tech companies and fashion brands.
I recently went to Wearable Lab in Paris, an initiative launched by Première Vision Paris to support the future of fashion and technology. Made up of startups, designers, fashion brands and manufacturers, the Wearable Lab is all about showcasing cutting-edge technology designed to shape the future of the fashion industry.
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According to Gille Lasbordes, general manager at Première Vision, the Wearable Lab "is a complete ecosystem designed to optimise connections between fashion tech players."
As the dust settled for another season, there were five startups that left a lasting impression on me, with both wearable tech and fashion tech on show – here's an introduction to each of them.
With ABI Research forecasting that as many as 18 million smart clothing items will be sold across the world by 2021, I was not surprised to learn that Genius Object has come up with Zip and Go, a technology that can convert any product with a zip into a connected object.
The French IOT and e-textile startup's connected zips wowed crowds at Wearable Lab last week. Based on patented technology, the zips can be embedded in a product and linked to an electronic card which communicates through Bluetooth LE to a smartphone.
The connected zip can be used to track location, alert you to if the item is open or closed and activate other functions such as lights in the fabric. This means the use cases span a range of fields in luggage, baggage, outdoor gear, sportswear, personal protection and healthcare. Alexandre Faucher, CEO and co-founder of Genius Objects, told us, "This is a technology that can be leveraged by your products. It's triggered by day to day gestures, such as zipping or unzipping, with enhanced user experience on a smartphone."
A new performance enhancing material, naturally derived from active particles, was also introduced at Première Vision's Wearable Lab. Made from volcanic sand and activated carbon from coconut shells, the microporous particles have the perfect combination of energy absorption and 800% more surface area to trap moisture and process it out of microclimate.
With the ability to actively respond to body heat, the particles use energy from the body to accelerate the vapour movement and speed up the conversion of liquid to vapour. This significantly increases drying rates, which means the hotter the wearer gets, the stronger the driving force removing moisture becomes – and the more comfortable the microclimate remains.
On the patented 37.5 Technology debut at Première Vision, CEO Jeff Bowman said, "The new Wearable Lab is a great addition to Première Vision. We have been exposed to a lot of designers who are looking for the best in wearable technology, which consumers are now demanding."
If you didn't already get the memo, the counterfeit of designer goods is big business. According to a report published by the OECD in April 2016, cross-border trade in fakes was thought to be worth $250 billion, and still growing. Looking to fight these rising statistics is French company Gemetiq. Targeting luxury brands, they have come up with an identification chip that can be integrated into textile products, leather goods and shoes.
The concept behind the chip is to give fashion companies the ability to authenticate each product and ensure full traceability. Gemetiq technology works by scanning the intelligent identification chip with an NFC reader or using a Gemetiq mobile app downloaded onto a smartphone.
Dienpi is a new smart label that could potentially improve how we shop. The project, which started in 2012, was created and patented with the aim of producing an easy to read, washable modern technology tag that communicates with smartphones and tablets via NFC.
Straightforward to use, all you need to do is hold the device to the NFC label and then you will be able to read what appears on the display of your smartphone. "The smart label has been designed to track your product and make your production chain transparent", said Doriana Marini, managing director of Dienpi. But the connected label could also be used in marketing campaigns (extra multimedia content, promoting offers), providing information on products and collections to the wearer and, like Gemetiq, fighting counterfeiting.
Dienpi's smart label technology has already been distributed to brands of clothing, footwear and leather goods in Italy.
Why did it take so long for someone to create a shape-shifting high-performance robotic mannequin? Well after six years of R&D, French company Euveka have done just that.
Targeting fashion, sports and medical professionals in the prototyping and sale of individual garments, the connected and endlessly adjustable dummy has been designed to adapt as closely as possible to the evolution of the human body, according to age and morphology. With so much going on in the Wearable Lab, what made the Euveka mannequin stand out for me was how it is guided by design software that helps it evolve fully or by zone, height or width.