Fashion Focuses on Digital Tech At Decoded Forum Milan

The summit was dedicated to the intersection between digital technologies and the fashion industry.

MILAN — Hashtag and widget chatter was paramount at the Decoded Forum Milan, a summit dedicated to the intersection between digital technologies and the fashion industry. The event, held Wednesday, united Italy’s top fashion decision-makers and focused on online content and the future of mobile device purchases, while also bringing to the fore burgeoning startup companies.

E-Pitti, the Florence-based trade-show organizer’s portal, teamed with Decoded Fashion to organize the event, which was held at La Pelota show space in Milan’s Brera District. “Now you have to face the fact that the Web is the first window [to products],” said Costume National chief executive officer Carlo Capasa. “We think now how it will look on the Web.” Since the dawn of the Internet and smartphones, mobile devices like iPhones and tablets have become crucial shopping tools for savvy shoppers, and the fashion industry is a testament to this phenomenon.

At Diesel, products are being developed directly on iPads and 3-D avatars to develop realistic prototypes and increase efficiency. So real, “the garment takes the body’s form and you can see the folds,” Diesel and OTB president Renzo Rosso said.

About one-third of Italians perform research online with their mobile phones and 13 percent of European buyers prefer using phone credit for online purchases on their mobile account, said Marina Salamon, shareholder and chairman of luxury children’s wear company Altana, digital marketing agency Connexia and Italian market research company Doxa.

Nearly one-third of Yoox’s online traffic comes from mobile or smartphones, said Yoox founder and ceo Federico Marchetti. “We hope this will grow,” he said.

Despite Italy’s economic challenges, the country is among the fastest-growing e-commerce regions in Europe, said Sayduck cofounder Matt Drew. Sayduck is an app that allows consumers to visualize and conceptualize in an actual space before purchasing.

Leaders here said there is no doubt that there are future synergies between the fashion and technology industries. It was no coincidence that Apple Inc. this week poached Burberry’s ceo Angela Ahrendts to become its new senior vice president of retail and online stores, they added.

“Technology cannot be disconnected from fashion,” said Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani, a keynote speaker introducing the digital content portion of the forum.

Sozzani noted that in terms of fashion publishing, Web sites, blogs and social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram have made the industry more democratic or “much more open to everybody” on a global level.

In an age where bloggers are a growing presence during fashion week and are often sitting in the front row, it is undeniable that they are important, Sozzani explained.

“We have all the tools to communicate with everyone, but we need to add content and quality,” Sozzani said, adding that some bloggers lack added-value background both on their social-media profiles and on their blogs.

Other speakers included Katie Stanton, vice president of international market development at Twitter, Net-a-porter Group mobile manager Sarah Watson and executives from Farfetch.com and Wired Italia.

Lingerie and lifestyle brand Fleur du Mal founder Jennifer Zuccarini and Lucas Carne, cofounder of Privalia, an online private club that organizes exclusive designer sales, were among the start-up leaders asked to speak on the future of retail and e-commerce.

Innovations like the Apple iWatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch and the wearable computer, Google Glass, may change the retail industry forever, speakers said.

“We might be able one day to measure how excited a customer is while he is browsing your catalogue,” said Carne.

In an effort to bolster young entrepreneurs, Decoded Fashion hosts the Fashion Pitch competition, which was won by London-based Viewsy, an analytics startup that aids retailers in understanding consumer behavior in order to better manage their business.