You know how important your smartphone is to you. Now, picture it in a completely different format. A T-shirt for example, that could come as a substitute for the devices we are used to. Maybe as ridiculous as Captain Kirk 30 years ago talking to his wrist watch? Things are starting slowly:
Google is developing interactive jeans fabric together with the jeans manufacturer Levi Strauss. The pants or jackets are to be knitted with touch screen functions and the commands can be transmitted to smartphones or other devices which means it could be possible to initiate phone calls or send messages simply by touching the material. And it can be done on any other fabric – so you can just imagine what are the possibilities…
Weaving telecommunications into fashion
Until now, fashion has been defined by fabric, cut, label and workmanship. And of course it is way to express ones personality. Yes, fashion was always about communication. Now, technology adds a new dimension: telecommunications and the exchange of data. There is no law of nature that says telecommunications are only possible using smartphones. Do not get me wrong, it is a great invention – as was the rotary dial telephone in its day. One day, our grandchildren will go to museums to see both.
Telecommunications are increasingly and logically becoming a feature of apparel. Countless computer-based services have already gone mobile and moved closer to the body as a result of the smartphone. And this development continues with virtual reality glasses, smart headphones, wristbands and rings; and even chip implants or just scarves made from wool that changes its color.
Design for improving people’s lives
It's a huge opportunity for us to inspire our customers with new products. Products developed entirely from a customer perspective. We're not talking flashing LED gowns for the runway. These are relevant, functional, sustainable, and sought-after smart fashion items and services that have a permanent positive effect on people's lives. It goes without saying that these clothes and accessories can and should also look good and be fashionable.
3D printed clothes and new retail concepts
New technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing get customers much more involved in designing their own fashion items. Wear virtual fashion that doesn't even exist yet, or print out a shoe that you have designed yourself. You can only imagine what kind of impact will this have on the economy and the society. Retail is one of the industries that will be the most impacted by 3D printing. Not only will the technology disrupt the way we produce goods, but it will also call into question the way to organize the supply chain, the company structure and the way people consume. The role of stores will be deeply called into question. Stores will become more digital, with 3D printers, 3D scanners and even virtual mirrors to let the customer experience the products without having stocks or display stands. This suggest the possibility of very mobile stores – that are a temporary location for a few hours or weeks – according to the demand of a certain location.
How do I know that this shirt will fit my body?
The time dedicated to create the design will still remain one of the most important parts of the product creation process, but it doesn’t mean that the way of thinking about the design will not evolve. Indeed with the possibility to create open-source design, even the customers can take part to its creation and tailor make it to suit their individual needs. Customer experience will matter more than ever. With our project Fashion Fusion, we bring together key players and promising talents. With this international challenge we will not only focus on smart, connected accessories and apparel, we are also looking for services and answers to questions like: How do I know that this shirt will fit my body? In this international competition, young talents will have the unique opportunity to draw upon the aid of experts from industry, the fashion sector and the start-up scene to realize their visionary concepts for high-tech outfit, wearables and digital lifestyle products and bring them to market.
In short – we give them space to turn their ideas into reality.