Two days before the opening of the 6th edition of Fashion Tech Week Paris, Le Boudoir Numérique met Alice Gras, one of the founders of this event dedicated to innovative fashion. Review of novelties and key moments planned in the program.
By Ludmilla Intravaia
Le Boudoir Numérique : Fashion Tech Week Paris is back for a 6th edition, from this October 15th. How was this initiative born?
Alice Gras, co-founder of Fashion Tech Week Paris : The first Fashion Tech Week Paris was born in 2014, of a desire to create a public event associating the sectors of fashion and technology. This time was marked by a craze of investors and the press for projects related to technological innovations but fashion seemed to remain a bit out of this dynamic. There was no reason for things to remain as they were. We wanted to make fashion and technology communicate better and to highlight the projects that associated them. Following the success of our initiative, we created in 2015 the association La Fashion Tech, a collective of entrepreneurs who now organizes Fashion Tech Week Paris and supports, in other cities, events at the crossroads of fashion and new digital technologies, such as Fashion Tech Week Biarritz or Fashion Tech Days Lyon.
What's new in this edition?
First, a breakfast - debate is organized in the law firm Alain Bensoussan Lexing Lawyers, on the theme "Smart fabrics and connected clothes: let us take stock on their issues". It should be noted that project promoters face a lot of legal constraints when they want to put on the market a garment integrating electronics, for example. In terms of legal standards for connected fashion, everything is still under construction. Led by the lawyer Naïma Alahyane Rogeon and the textile designer Florence Bost, this conference will offer a panorama of emerging digital technologies in the field of fashion and textiles, while addressing the specific legal issues raised by their interactions.
Augmented reality is also in the spotlight...
Yes, the ethical menswear brand Wonda Kammer has worked with a specialist in augmented reality to offer a new shopping experience, in the Parisian pop-up store Kuuki Yomenai, gathering young creators. By filming certain objects in the shop with a phone, the visitor will see the collection appear on his screen, thanks to an app, on the principle of the video game Pokemon GO. A new way to market clothing, both in the physical and digital space, in short. Finally, we have also planned a seminar on fashion and research, as well as a workshop on good practices in the use of fashion technology data. In this last case, the idea is to think about the problems related to the data collected by the portable devices, the mobile applications, the virtual fitting rooms, the online shopping, etc., in order to ask how we can do a profitable work with these data, without endangering the right to privacy. At the end of the workshop, we would like to have written a good practice guide on the responsibility in using fashion technology data.
How will the visitor discover a maximum of promising fashion tech projects?
For instance, In visiting the FashionTech Expo, which this year will host thirty exhibitors, when there was a dozen, in previous editions. We try to find innovative projects, developing fashion tech ideas, at the very beginning of their entrepreneurial career but with tangible progress to show or test, such as an attractive demo, a beautiful interface or an amazing prototype. The aim is to confront project leaders with the reality of the market, the feedback from the public, professionals and journalists and to give them the greatest possible visibility, as a pioneer in the fashion sector. We want to highlight initiatives that innovate, think outside the box, expand the boundaries of fashion. Because often when we think fashion, we imagine big names, known brands, either luxury or mass consumption, but fashion is more than that. It's a lot of services, initiatives, perhaps less visible but just as fundamental and creative.
Round table, FashionPitch Night, Hackamode ... just like Fashion Tech Week Paris, fashion tech seems to abound with a multitude of opportunities. Do they finally allow the worlds of fashion and technology to communicate more?
At first it felt like a niche sector. But it is clear now that fashion is increasingly interested in digital issues. No brand is now unaware of the importance of being present both numerically and physically. On the other hand, highly technological projects are now very much interested in the fashion sector, whereas before, it was rather perceived as futile, incidental and not worthy of attention. This reciprocal attraction, this better communication seems to us absolutely beneficial for the whole fashion and tech ecosystem.
Is the general public receptive to the potential of fashion tech?
The interest of the general public is obvious, especially since they feel that fashion tech can provide solutions for the future, especially in terms of eco-responsible fashion. As a collective, we are particularly sensitive to these issues. But let's not be naive. We know very well that some fashion tech projects serve a logic of growth, in terms of production and economic model, far from going in the direction of sustainable development. Innovation, in principle, can serve any interest, everything depends on who uses it, who finances it, who appropriates it. Nevertheless, we note that many project leaders, especially young people, are highly aware of the topics of sustainable development, responsible manufacturing, respect for workers, etc. Many fashion projects now put technology at the service of sustainable development. The notion of responsibility is a concept well integrated today, in particular by millennials. In this general movement favorable to fashion innovation, the most exciting novelty lies in the fact that fashion has become a genuine field of exploration. It's a great thing to open up for research in this area and not be trapped in a single business approach. This will make it possible to change the models, to get out of the mechanics of overproduction, overconsumption, growth based on reduced costs and the exploitation of workers. An evolution bringing hope for the future.
* The Fashion Tech Week Paris takes place from October 15th to 19th, 2018. Website here.The page of the association La Fashion Tech is here.
* The Fashion Tech Week Biarritz takes place from 19 to 20 October 2018. Website there.
* The Fashion Tech Days Lyon took place on October 11, 2018. Website there.
* Read also this article of Le Boudoir Numérique “Fashion Tech Week Paris Exhibition : what’s new”.