Price and distribution are one of the main challenges for mass adoption and awareness of the notion of fashiontech. It's difficult for the average consumer to find these types of products online unless they're specifically searching for them and if they're sold in brick and mortar stores, the price increases significantly. At INTERLACED 2015, we discussed how to get the balance between online and offline right, successful retail channels and winning strategies to attract consumer interest.
The panel, chaired by INTERLACED’s Kristina Dimitrova, included Sabrina Faramarzi (Trend Researcher, Portland Design), Saverio Romeo (Principal Analyst, Beecham Research), Jennytha Raj (Founder & CEO, Teqtique) and Miranda Davis (Creative Producer, MIMIRA)
The session started by discussing if, as outlined by a report from Vista Retail Support, wearable tech will become an integral part of retail in the next 2-5 years. This doesn’t refer to people expecting to see wearables sold in stores but to use them to navigate around retail spaces. “We can use this technology to engage with customers and facilitate better experiences,” said Saverio Romeo, giving as example Virgin Atlantic’s use of Google Glass to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalised customer service yet. Certainly, such technological evolution has an effect on consumption. “While consumers are more informed now than ever before this also applies for the retailers, which can give them much more refined understanding of the consumption behavior of the individual,” said Romeo. “This can in turn guide anything, from store design, marketing, and promotion strategies.”
While consumers are more informed now than ever before this also applies for the retailers, which can give them much more refined understanding of the consumption behavior of the individual
Moving on to fashiontech specifically, which are the best channels to retail such products? “With any retail channel, the product and its specialness has to be in the centre,” said Sabrina Faramarzi. “One of the things that we do in my team is very much about modes, motives, moments and the way the consumer tap into these things. I really think it’s going to be down to the initial product and the consumer. What mode will they be in when they use your product, what are the various different motives and what moment do they want to capture from the product. You have to research how your product is going to be used to pick up the best retail channel for that.”
Miranda Davis, the creative producer behind Donna Air’s LED Dress, commissioned by House of Fraser, agreed. “The notion of moments is really interesting and can point us towards the future of retail, how we shop and why we shop. I think it’s about a conscious and sensory engagement. We’re choosing the stories we want to buy into – whether that’s a product in store or an online purchase that gives you a feeling of how it will make you feel when you receive the product. “
As a founder of a curated online boutique that stocks luxury fashion and tech products for women, Jennytha explained why online presence for such brands comes first. “Being online is all about accessibility and allowing for a level of global reach. That’s the reason why I put Teqtique online before even doing a pop-up. Especially as a lot of brands are still very new, and don’t want to be be stuck in one place. What they need is global presence.”
What about the feedback from Teqtique’s customers? “We’re moving with the market, so most accessories do well,” explained Jenn. “I tried to make the site more commercial, something that would appeal to the average consumer who doesn’t necessarily follow fashiontech. What I started to do recently is explaining more of the tech aspects of the products and how they would fit into the customer’s everyday life on Teqtique’s blog,” said Raj, explaining how such things can help potential customers see the value of such products and understand how they will integrate into their everyday life.”
For retailers with physical stores, choosing to stock wearables over other, less novelty products might result in wasted shelf space. On the other hand, the availability of fashion tech products could make retailers stand out from the competition and help position them as innovative and forward thinking. “With The Dress, House of Fraser wanted to get a lot of engagement for something they were doing and take their sponsorship of the BAFTAs further. It was also a statement that made it clear they’re interested in this future of fashion,” said Davis.
“It definitely gives an edge over the experience that you’ll have in store but if a product doesn’t fit into the brand DNA, it’s going to feel off and people will pick up on that,” added Faramarzi. “However, if you’re doing it in a sensitive way that’s considered, supports your brand as a whole and fits into the lifestyle that you’re trying to sell, then absolutely do it.”
Saverio Romeo noted that we are still in a prototyping era in terms of retailing fashiontech product. “I see certain retailers using wearabletech more as something to testing and experiment with consumers”, explained Romeo who said that we should look out more retailers transforming into experience labs and tech incubators.
Davis, who, along with Seeper worked in close partnership with House of Fraser for The Dress, worn by Donna Air at the 2015 BAFTA awards, shared more about the collaboration with such a huge retailer. “I was given a lot of freedom to come up with a solution to meet their brief. We wanted to move beyond the idea of a screen, to make it magnetic for people, something evokes an emotional reaction. House of Fraser wanted to celebrate the fact that they were sponsoring the BAFTAs, so the output had to be super glamorous, fit in with the idea of what House of Fraser sells and it had to be all about the popular mass being able to get involved in a red carpet experience.”
For more from INTERLACED 2015, check our video playlist here.