Chanel RTW Spring 2017

The relationship between the fashion and technology industries might have gotten off to a rocky start, but fast-forward to present day and luxury houses are injecting innovation into almost every seam. Karl Lagerfeld hosted Chanel’s spring fashion show amidst a data center, releasing tweed-clad robots down the runway to kick off the show. Zac Posen’s gown worn by Claire Danes at the Met Gala delighted as it boasted custom LED-lighting sewn into the lining of the dress.

As these innovations present enviable technology, mass and commercial retailers and brands are challenged to keep in step with innovation that features a hefty price tag. Sandra Lopez, vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel, discusses how brands can integrate newness rooted in accessibility.

WWD: As luxury brands integrate technology into ready-to-wear collections and red carpet looks, what will be key for mass brands to consider as they look to incorporate this?

Sandra Lopez: Any brand, whether luxury or mass, needs to understand the consumer value they are seeking to deliver first and foremost. Whether it’s the creation of smart and connected accessories, smart fabrics, or an immersive retail experience, brands need to work collaboratively with their tech partners to ensure the technology is invisible.

I believe Intel has done an excellent job of showcasing that a brand can deliver on both design and functionality at both the luxury and mass level. From our collaboration with Hussein Chalayan at Paris Fashion Week and the release of TAG’s first smartwatch to the recent release of Oakley’s Rader Pace — a real-time voice-activated coaching system — brands should be empowered by technology to create new, innovative products based on their customers’ needs.

WWD: How will made-to-order production affect current supply chains? How can brands begin to look at both options as consumer demands change?

S.L.: Made-to-order is really about delivering a personalized experience. The rise of individuality has given rise to mass personalization. The world of mass retailing may eventually end as made-to-order rises in popularity. Digitization of the apparel industry will make it possible to take accurate measurements; analytics and machine learning will help perfect styling; and 3-D printing and other new capabilities will enable cost-effective manufacturing.

WWD: As consumer attention spans shorten to prefer more “glanceable” content, what will be crucial for marketers to implement in upcoming strategies?

S.L.: As new formats usher in a new era of content consumption, marketers cannot deploy a copy-and-paste strategy. Marketers need to spend time understanding the user cases and the inherent value they would like to deliver. Basically marketers need to inject a user experience philosophy into their marketing strategies.[…] Technology should be a natural enhancement rather than a roadblock.

WWD: We’ve seen that wearables have a high abandonment rate and the high cost of designer brands can actually deter a large group of shoppers from purchasing a wearable. How can this be adjusted?

S.L.: Wearables are an extremely personal purchase. The avid athlete who wants to live a healthier and better life is still using their wearable. The avid golfer who wants to improve their game is still using their wearable. The avid socializer is still using their wearable. The opportunity for brands is to deliver on variation and differentiation to address the needs of myriad consumer types. Similar to fashion – one size does not fit all.

WWD: Early adapters show signs of being interested in new personal data, but there’s still a large learning curve for the masses. How can these insights be delivered in digestable, yet actionable ways to grow interest and expedite adaptation?

S.L.: Personalization is critical. There is a tremendous opportunity in converting data into tangible and actionable insights. It is not only about capturing data from one particular wearable or sensor but how one can harness a variety of incoming data sources to identify associations and provide recommendations that lead to improved lifestyles.