Forget the smartwatch hype, here are three UK businesses that could drive the next generation of fashion – they all make use of technology, but not to lead the product. Instead they use it to offer a great the user experience.
Even if you don’t know their name, you probably know their work. They have been around for over 10 years and during that time they have created a number of successful pieces for Katy Perry, the Tweeting Dress for Nicole Scherzinger and the Huggable Shirt. In many ways this company embodies the concept of ‘wearable fashion technology’. Much of this is done by using LEDs that are part of the fabric combined with traditional techniques such as pleating. It means that the clothes can be made skin-tight and fabrics can move in an organic way. , Cute Circuit also have a retail, ready to wear line. The company makes use of LEDs secreted throughout their garments – these can be used to create patterns or messages, all controlled from a smartphone app. For their 14/15 catwalk show, data from the web was fed to the mixing desk and used to create bespoke, changing patters on the clothes. My favourite is the Tweeting handbag. It looks similar to a mid-sized clutch bag, but Tweets and words can be displayed on it.
Trained in both fashion and technology (at MIT), Elena Corchero prefers the phrase ‘smart materials’ applied to her work. Her range of clothes, jewelry and toys generally avoid batteries or circuit boards, instead focusing on smarter fabrics to solve problems. The Lflect range, for example, uses a reflective wool to produce scarves, hats and gloves that are aimed at keeping cyclists safe without the green, hi-viz jacket. The Ecolorium range of jewelry uses stones that change colour in ultra violet light. The objective is to warn the wearer (or friends) to cover up or use sunscreen.
They don’t make clothes and they don’t use LEDs or clever materails. However, this UK-based app is on its way to changing fashion retail, and particularly that of the vintage market. Using a familiar Instagram-style interface, it allows anyone to post items for sale and other users to like, comment or buy, via a frictionless experience (helped by Paypal). Already popular with millennial users, the app has expanded to the US and secured VC funding. I don’t use the word ‘disruptive’ lightly, but Depop is one of the few apps that has the opportunity to change the market for clothing retail.