SMART APPAREL AND TECH COMING INTO PLAY FOR THIS YEAR
Going into smart products, tech, and sustainability, this fall we’ve been seeing a movement of « smart products » going in place, whether it’s from a tech view or a more functional point of view, many local and emerging designers to retail giants have been creating new collections that suit today’s movement.
Starting with a technological angle, one of the hot trends of NOW that really reaches the hard buttons of today’s millenials is the <see now buy now> concept with Burberry Prorsum proving a successful hit and come-back for their SS16/17 show. Between glossy front cover mags and selling out in stores, the brands days-old September 2016 collection may already be a hit. According to Hollywood Reporter, Burberry’s Regent Street boutique had sold out of several styles from the collection before noon where most of the key pieces from the runway were also sold out on the brand’s website. The brand stated it had no plans to restock. Although it has been a dramatic strategic move for the brand, they’ve received major global media buzz and a successful sell-through with this new commercial orientation while reducing stock and lead-time.
On another aspect that’s more product focused, we’re seeing smart products coming through in order to help consumers be smarter, faster and more flexible with trends. Recently, Heirloom Bags , a Chinese – American brand created their first modulated bags for this Spring Summer allowing consumers to drastically change the colour, form and structure of their bags through “lego like” modules and parts. Recently winning INSTYLE Bag award in the US, they’ve also been the first pioneers in the accessory bag category to formulize this concept!
During Milan Fashion Week, we’ve also seen very local luxury Italian brands such as ELEVENTY, creating 100% Made in Italy collections that are highly advanced in terms of sustainability tech fibres. Geared for the global high sophisticated travellers, many of their apparel can be crunched in and out of a suitcase while still looking completely intact <without the hectic ironing needed>. “ I’m really interested in what my final consumers feedback as well as trying to anticipate what they’d potentially need in the future both in terms of trends and functionality, where I interpret these needs and re-adapt them into my brand” says Paolo Zuntini, Co-founder and CEO of ELEVENTY during their SS1617 presentation in Milan.
Another example is an emerging designer EK – Emily Keller, one of the only fashion brand with a complete collection of reversible knitwear that can be worn from morning till night. “Our goal was to create something that is both attractive and meaningful. At the same time we wanted this concept to be easily understood by the consumers. In an age of fast fashion we wanted to be known as the line that <designs smarter instead of faster>. One specific characteristic of knitwear is that both sides of the fabric can be very different. With our goal of creating a sustainable and responsible brand in mind and thinking about taking full advantage of our resources we came across the idea of creating two garments in one by making both sides wearable.” says Emily Keller, Designer / Founder.
Reversible knitwear bustier by EK, photo by Ivan GRIANTI
In contrast, an example that is more on the extreme side of product functionality and usage is the ADIFF brand, founded by millennial designer, Angela Luna, who created a multifunctional collection to help out Syrian refugees. Recently winning Designer of the Year women’s wear Award Angela’s mission is to create Smart Apparel; “Design intervention for global issues. Creating clothes that help, and getting them to those in need.”
“It’s a collection of outerwear jackets that serve multiple transformable purposes. Each jacket responds to an issue that a refugee faces on a daily basis. I’ve created a diverse range of jackets that can be transformed into large tents, reflective and camouflage inflatable vests, sleeping bags, backpacks and even child carrying jackets.” says Luna. Her goal is to create these smart products through a commercialized “one for one” concept, where for every single product bought, another item will be donated to someone in need.
But why is this really happening in general?
I think were going through a strong phase where practicality combined with fashion has become an important thing for us in order to differentiate ourselves from others. More of us now also want to own products that are meaningful to us instead of mass created products with low quality and low price. Whether it’s using technology to go forward with the latest trends and creating exclusivity on limited products to being able to customize easily the same item from one season to another, or using innovative fabrics that save us time to having customizable products with diverse usages, for this season and hopefully for the future, smart tech and smart Apparel will continue to grow stronger.