A record crowd attended this event at Alley NYC to learn how technology and social media is transforming business models and the supply chain within the fashion industry. The panel, chaired by Theia’s Don O’Neill, included leading experts who have experience working in design, marketing, and PR in leading brands within the industry.
Don O’Neill introduced the event by highlighting how he personally experienced a significant drop in business due to technology shifts. “I worked in Fashion in New York for 25 years and for 23 of those years, the industry was a status quo. However, two years ago, retail sales tanked.”
The drop in retail sales was a result of consumers spending most of the time “living on their phone” and buying products online. Other panelists also highlighted their experience during this transformation. Footwear designer Eileen Shields outlined how technology has transformed the supply chain and how she interacts with designers. “The industry has shifted from fax to internet and now 3D printing for managing the design process. Technology has enabled small fashion brands to provide a direct consumer model which is more responsive to changing consumer trends.”
Michaela O’Shaughnessy ,Social Media Producer at Teen Vogue, highlighted that technology has also resulted in a significant shift in PR & Marketing. “A career in social media didn’t exist ten years ago”. Teen Vogue recently ceased their famous magazine to a strategy solely focused on Digital. This was a result of the shift to online consumption. Despite such easy access to consumers and data, brands must not be too intrusive, and have to be “natural” to make a brand relatable, added Christina McCarthy, Media Manager at Victoria’s Secret. “Fashion influencers have a big role in storytelling and keeping it natural”. Quality content is very important and must connect with customers.” She also highlighted the effectiveness of user generated content strategy. “It creates more natural content which is cheaper and genuine. In my experience, I have seen it increase social interaction by 160%”. Ruari Mahon, Founder and Director of Loughlin Joseph, also added that brands must be able to tell a story and sustainability is playing a big role in that. “Digital is more than a platform to sell products, it enables an online dialogue with your customer. Every channel should be maximized.”
The panel concluded with their predictions for 2020. “Niche Brands will excel more due to the opportunities that are provided by social media and tech” according to Ruari. Michaela predicts that voice activated shopping, virtual reality and wearable technology will see increased adoption in the years to come. Christina echoed this prediction by adding that augmented reality will become a staple in the day to day lives of consumers. Consumers will be able to virtually try on and customize clothes from their own home before purchasing online. Eileen outlined her vision for creating fully biodegradable shoes to reduce the environmental impact and predicted that Macys will become a hotel, signifying the transformation caused by technology in the industry.
As always, Digital Irish invited three start ups to pitch at the event and the companies did not disappoint. Check them out below and lets try and help them. Reach out if you can make any introductions!
An e-commerce AI platform that enables consumers to navigate websites and order online with natural language voice search and transaction.
Asks– Speak to people who work brands/e-commerce providers who want to implement voice assisted systems in their online mobile platforms.
Contact – David Andreasson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
An e-commerce platform that offers athleisure clothing designed in Ireland. A core strategy of the company is to build a community dedicated to health & well being through events and social media.
Asks – Gym+coffee are looking to connect with
Contact – Diarmuid McSweeney <email@example.com>
Make it black aim to reduce the environmental impact of clothing waste by enabling brands to reuse & reinvigorate existing clothes lines by…you guessed it…dieing them black!!
Asks – Make it Black want to speak to members working with major brands regarding potential partnerships.
Contact – Amanda grogan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Missed the Event: Catch the recording of the event on the Irish Central Facebook page.