Fasshionovation. The new buzz word to grace the lips of thousands around the world following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fashion industry has been slow in adopting digitalisation into their world. The fashion shows, disposable mass production of items and inflexible approach to change have prevented the industry from truly engaging in consumer-driven innovation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity to redefine business models and utilise technology to create a more progressive and sustainable future.
As lockdown measures have accelerated the shift from physical to online retail, many designers and creatives are turning to technology to bring their creative vision to life.
CG Fashion shows
The fashion industry directly contributed £32.3billion to the UK economy in 2017, with over 100 designers showcasing their work at the prestigious London Fashion Week. Following COVID-19, the future of fashion shows turns to technology whereby Computer-Generated Imagery (‘CGI’) is being incorporated into designers’ campaigns and live events. Burberry’s photographer Nick Light, asked Kendal Jenner to take 200 pictures of herself at home to be re-created using stills and a model in a motion-captured suit in a completely CG environment. Satore Studios are one of a number of organisations that have begun re-imaging what post-COVID fashion shows will look like over the next 10 years. Through the use of tracking systems, LED screens and complex code, they have created experiences in mixed reality by using a 20 metres wide and 4 metres tall screen with over 10 million pixels.
The traditional teams of designers, make-up artists and stylists are now replaced with visual effects and multi-sensory theatre specialists, with models and backdrops being fully CG. As such, this marks a dramatic change in the way in which consumers interact and view fashion. With designers experimenting on and testing fabrics digitally via specialized software, fewer garments and fabrics are being made. Consequentially, the large corporations face cuts due to a drop in stock prices and demand thereby resulting in mass unemployment for factory workers. As demand for mass-production of disposable items and clothing continues to decrease following the pandemic, it is the vulnerable, lowest paid people in the fashion supply chain that are the worst affected, with little or no access to financial or social support systems. Bangladeshi garment manufacturer Mostafiz Uddin reminds us that, “poverty is a killer too, and many more people die from poverty than from COVID-19”. A recent report by Bloomberg outlines that near 1,089 garment factories in Bangladesh have had orders cancelled, amounting to roughly $1.5 billion in losses due to the coronavirus outbreak.
CLO is a 3D-fashion design software programme that is being used by designers across the industry in the creation of virtual, true-to-life garment visualisations with cutting-edge simulation technology. The software offers unlimited graphic placements, colour-ways and engineered print layouts to encourage and provide creatives with an outlet to explore their vision. Platforms such as Gravity Sketch will become increasingly popular, as they can assist design teams that create, collaborate and review ideas in a 3D-environment via a VR headset to streamline their work process.
ASOS were one of the first major online retailers to introduce their ‘See My Fit’ campaign, implementing the use of Augmented Reality (‘AR’) technology. The tool allows customers to view clothing on 16 different body types to see what would work for them, adding to a more personal and engaging user process. Following the pandemic, they are experimenting with real-life model photography simulations to provide a more interactive approach for consumers.
Fashion shows preserve a great element of drama and theatre – a true space of creative ingenuity and imagination. As such, the addition of technology into the fashion space only adds to the endless possibilities in cultivating future trends and history itself.