THE DOUBLE STANDARD
It occurs to me that I might hold fashion& technology endeavors to a double standard: I am frustrated at the glacial evolution of online platforms, and find myself often feeling more confused than impressed when I hear about the investment/engagement success of a startup or veteran online fashion platform. And then I see disruptive product experimentation and find it all super gimmicky, preferring an approach that is more aesthetically in line with a current zeitgeist (although in a timeless way).
But within those two cycles, what I'm really looking for is change. The fashion industry feels stagnated and uninspiring. There's a coziness and rote that's been settled into, and the result is a schizophrenic environment with misguided leaders who unofficially determine how far it's actually ok to go before stepping off into the fringe.
So, when I think about the second half of that aforementioned dilemma, I wonder: am I getting, just not appreciating, what I ask for? With product experimentation, people are creating things–using their hands . This is the explorative side of fashion that requires touch, and an understanding of construction, the body, and the materials. This is what I love about fashion design, and everything that our taste for fast fashion has lead us to forget. Designers don't have the time anymore to go through the development that would show us real progressiveness. With limited time to innovate, we don't get to the depths of exploration where the really good stuff lies, we only scratch the surface.
Which is why the integration of technology into fashion is so exciting: it spurs exploration.
I think the root of my discontent is that the online platforms are the category of FashionTech that have high adoption rates, while all product based fashion technology is several iterations away from mass embracing. When looked at this way, it is easier to accept the gimmicky flirtations with commercialization in wearables or LED garments, for example. Rather than be disappointed with the products that are making today's headlines, be excited by the activity going on under the radar from which we will emerge with big ideas and leap forward into the future. The key, for the audience and for the developers, is to be patient and keep searching.
Feeling a bit out of touch from getting too micro in the development of high profile platforms, it is all too easy to be influenced by their big money potential and ignore the dissociative effect, digitizing the way we experience fashion, which is innately such a physical thing. Sometimes we have to go back to the source. Touch the fabric, browse in a store, seek the advice of a sales consultant.
Holding on to that material notion of fashion, it turns out, is the thing that might create this bridge between the two worlds that are still so divergent in their definition of what FashionTech can be. The material notion of fashion might be the place where designers feel safe exploring, while letting technology enable their process rather than add more noise and confusion to it as it does in the online world.
These check points are critical, questioning again where this attachement to the idea of technology comes from in order to reaffirm a stance. (If you go back to the first post on this blog, you'll see that when I started my business, I thought having a website would dilute the brand). So have I done a 180 only to start curving back towards my anchors in the physical world?
Whatever the next several years look like in fashion technology landscape, I do know that the product side cannot be forgotten. That's why I'm in this business in the first place. There is a balance between knowing all of these things about the technology/online/mobile world of fashion, and making decisions applying them to ones own business. And my gut tells me that a lot of what is going on with the buzz worthy emerging businesses is busy work to occupy us until the real innovation kicks in. I'm also not out to build a business for a big buy out. The goal here is "built to last," which means steady and, sure, slow. Patience & continued searching.