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BY ALYSSA LEVY AND ALANNA MADRY
Take a moment to imagine the future of technology. Perhaps you see flying cars, or the iconic computerized closet from the film Clueless. We are here to tell you that the future of technology is upon us, and it is taking the fashion world by storm. From shifting how runways look to changing the way we shop, technology and fashion are becoming increasingly intertwined, and are making way for groundbreaking collaborations, innovations, and developments.
In the past couple of years, major fashion houses have engaged in collaborations with popular video games, such as Ralph Lauren and Fortnite (2022), Gucci and Roblox (2021), and Burberry and Minecraft (2022). However, one must wonder what the motivation is behind these groundbreaking collaborations. Studies show that average video game play time has increased by 75% since the start of the pandemic, and luxury brands are capitalizing on this new trend.
While unforeseen by most, these innovative partnerships are a clever venture. Many luxury brands have taken the opportunity to appeal to a younger, and trendier, demographic as a way to refresh their image and stay relevant in the ever-changing fashion industry. Many of the collaborations include in-game, as well tangible outfits that are available for purchase. Most notably, the classic Burberry cashmere scarf underwent a complete remodel to include a pixelated black and white Minecraft logo, which retailed at $380.
Virtual reality companies are also picking up on the immersion of retail in the digital world. ScenTronix, an artificial intelligence company, allows customers to step into their ‘Algorithmic Perfumery’ shop, where they watch an AI machine create an array of scents based on consumer information provided through survey responses. ScenTronix’s goal? They hope their AI system will one day be advanced enough to create the perfect perfume suited to anyone in the world. The development of more companies like ScenTronix could lead to an unprecedented shift in the beauty industry, changing how they must approach marketing strategies when selling scents—-rather than entice customers to “smell like Ariana Grande”, they can redirect their strategy to appeal to customers that instead want to smell like the best version of themselves.
The advent of social media and e-commerce has caused a complete disruption in the way that clothes are being purchased, viewed, and sold. Instagram, and the influencers that rule the platform, have shaped the way we are exposed to fashion. Advertisements that feel frighteningly catered to your tastes as you scroll mindlessly are a result of intricate algorithms and product placement designed to make you swipe and click “purchase”. As a result, there is a decrease in the need to go to brick-and-mortar stores to shop for clothes. Why go into Macy’s and have a stylist tell you what to wear when you can just click on Emma Chamberlain’s most recent post, see the brand she tagged, and click the oh-so-prevalent link in bio? Bloomingdale’s laid off 3,600 employees in their last fiscal quarter demonstrating how these new consumer habits fiscally affect traditionally successful apparel establishments. As opposed to the clout Fashion Week used to hold, we can turn to social media and other digital brands to see what the ‘influencers’ are wearing. Even the modeling industry has felt this shift: many castings aren’t conducted without taking the model’s social media presence into account. Brands know that a more “Instagram-famous” person walking down their runway will attract a wider audience, boosting sales and viewership. This disruption accounts for the overall shift that we have seen in brands’ need to go about their marketing, and the decrease in sales and traffic that many physical stores have seen.
Technology and the fashion industry are becoming increasingly hard to separate. Tech’s influence is not only disrupting traditional formats of shopping and marketing, but certain technologies are pushing the envelope on how we view fashion in general. The incorporation of e-commerce and brands’ decisions to go entirely digital are changing old models of the industry, and will continue to influence fashion moving forward.