Technology, innovation and investment in the fashion industry

28 June 2023 | 3 minute watch

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Technology, innovation and investment in the fashion industry
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Technology, innovation and investment in the fashion industry

​​​Note: We have provided a transcript of the video if you are unable to listen to the audio. This transcript is generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers and may contain errors.

Deborah Greaves (0:09): We know that the fashion industry has been accused of being one of the most wasteful industries. Sustainability includes environmental matters, social compliance, circularity, traceability, chemicals, safety... Sustainability also, if you look at the true source of the word, includes not only sustainability from the perspective of the planet and being a good steward, but also sustainability of the company itself. How do you ensure that your practices are sustainable in the long termso that the company can survive and be competitive and provide the products that the consumers expect.

Graham Webster (0:54): I think this is such a huge topic that it's important not to speak in broad generalizations. I think even fashion consumers and sustainably conscious consumers are struggling to make sense of all the data which is out there. And I think that brands which have a greater consciousness about their operation and going through a real evaluation of their core proposition so that they can speak honestly and transparently around the issues are going to make headway in the current market.

Lauren Choi (1:18): We are really trying to tackle kind of four major environmental issues. One, pollution. I think one connection that many consumers don't make is anytime you wear a synthetic material, so a polyester, a nylon that was derived from oil and gas ultimately and so by incorporating more recycled materials, we can really start to cut the industry's reliance on that. The second kind of major thing is water pollution. Through dyeing and chemical use and finishing, the fashion industry pollutes all of our waterways and since globally those waterways are connected you could be across the world and still be impacted by the pollution being added into the water. The third thing is microfiber shedding, and so microfibers coming off of various different types of natural or synthetic fibers have now been found in our waterways, but it's also been found in human blood. The last thing is our supply chain. So we are fully made in the United States everything from plastic recycling to yarn to fabric is really done in a very small local radius, which not only supports the local recycling and textile industry in the United States, but it also reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transportation and not having to ship overseas.

Deborah Greaves (2:40): Really in order for sustainability programs to be included in a company's budget there has to be a conscious effort and culture within the company that elevates the importance of sustainability and that comes typically from consumer demand.

Graham Webster (3:00): The fashion industry is one which is powered by creativity and powered by art, and I think that going forward we're going to see science come to play an element in the creative process in a way which we haven't seen before, and which allows brands to have much more honest conversations around what sustainability means for them and their core value proposition.

The fashion industry is rapidly evolving as innovation drives change across all parts of a product’s lifecycle, including advancements in fabric technology, artificial intelligence, and how brands align with changing consumer behavior. Withers' Gina Bibby and Graham Webster, along with 3DLOOK’s Vadim Rogovskiy and The New Norm’s Lauren Choi, discuss the future of fashion and fashion technology, touching on sustainability, supply chain, circularity, consumer demands and how brands can evolve in a rapidly changing world.

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Technology, innovation and investment in the fashion industry

Gina Bibby | Withers (0:10)

It's a really exciting time in the fashion industry and that is because there's more and more confluence around fashion and technology. For example, in the sustainability space, we have a lot of fabric technology, innovation, artificial intelligence, innovation in other parts of the fashion industry. Also around the area of data science, predicting more what consumers want and when they want it so there's not as much speculation about how much inventory has to be in the supply chain. Those are some of the really key things that come to mind.

Graham Webster | Withers (0:56)

Customers are looking for value, but value is not just about price, it's about identity, it's about resonance and brands who go back to basics to look at that core value proposition, in terms of their brand identity and how they communicate, are going to leverage in this climate.

Gina Bibby | Withers (1:14)

The lesson that was learned from the pandemic is that in any moment, if one portion of your supply chain breaks down, the entire chain breaks down. And so the question is, how do you mitigate against such breakdowns? And I think the answer is in technology.

Vadim Rogovskiy | 3DLook (1:35)

Consumers, especially Gen Z, they demand more personalized way of of buying something and that takes into account their style preferences, their demographics, their interests, etc., etc., and their body data. That's what we do at 3DLook.

Lauren Choi | The New Norm (1:54)

Finally, the modern consumer has really demanded that global brands start considering sustainability, look at their supply chain, and with this shift, especially with the pandemic, we've seen a shift towards material innovation. I think unfortunately, one of the big awareness gaps in the industry is, a lot of brands are aware of sustainability, but they're not necessarily connected to the material innovation happening, what's happening in their supply chain. So I feel like finally that gap is being bridged a little where certain start-ups are being funded, new technologies are being piloted, the more we bridge the gap between global brands who are willing to pilot and test new technologies, the faster we can move towards a circular economy.

Graham Webster | Withers (2:41)

Our industry has a particular set of norms and expectations when it comes to capital that don't easily translate sometimes to more institutional investment. And I think part of our job as advisors is to act as the bridge between that investor and the founder to ensure that you have the best recipe for success in that marriage.

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