New York Fashion Tech Lab is onboarding the fifth class of its 12-week accelerator program.

The nine women-led entrepreneurial companies are in the areas of artificial intelligence, fit tech, visual search and RFID tracking, among others. The focus of this year’s class is on technology that can help retailers improve their customer experience and overall business margins.

New to the program are three retail partners: Lands’ End, Perry Ellis International and Tory Burch. They join six returning mentors: Global Brands Group, Macy’s, LVMH, Bloomingdale’s, Kohl’s Department Stores and

John Douglas, chief technology officer at Tory Burch, said of his firm’s participation this year: “We’re always interested in exploring innovative technologies aimed at addressing challenges in our industry. This program was a great cultural fit because it aligns with the mission of the Tory Burch Foundation, which empowers women entrepreneurs.”

Douglas, a 30-plus year veteran in the IT sector and a 12-year veteran in fashion retail, said of his participation in the mentoring program: “I hope to provide insight and guidance that can help these start-ups grow their business. It’s also an opportunity to learn about some interesting new technologies that may be a good match for our brand. And, finally, I hope I can build some great relationships. The start-up space is fluid and while not all will survive, often people move on to do great things elsewhere.”

As for mentoring this year, and not in past years, Douglas said, “Tory Burch LLC is already working with innovators in fashion technology and we are now in a position to dedicate the time to looking for that diamond among all those start-ups out there.”

Microsoft, the Tech Lab’s first formal technology partner, returns for its third year, while Flex returns for its second year. New to the program are Accenture and Avery Dennison.

Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s retail practice, said, “We believe organizations that embrace emerging technologies, such as AI, will have a significant advantage in delivering the next generation customer experience, which is the new battleground for competitive differentiation.”

Kay Koplovitz, cofounder of the Lab and chairman of Springboard Enterprises, said this year’s expansion of its technology partners would help “bring a unique perspective to the process of taking these emerging technologies further toward becoming mainstream.” Springboard is a global resource hub of influencers, investors and innovators with a common goal of helping women entrepreneurs build their businesses.

The accelerator program is a collaborative program between the participants and mentors in the fields of fashion, retail and technology.

The participants in this year’s class include: AI firm Cherry Pick, which uses technology to turn comments on social media into sales; EON.ID, a firm specializing in global textiles recycling through use of RFID technology; EverThread, a software firm that uses visualization technology to help with e-commerce sales; image and product recognition firm Fashwell; footwear recommendation app Find Me A Shoe; AI firm Headliner; Linc, a customer care automation firm; Narrative, which combines AI with digital publishing, and Shimmy Technologies, which uses AI and AR to accelerate the technical design process in fashion.

The program will be in residence at Spring Place, a collaborative workspace launched by the team behind Spring Studios. The program will end with its tech demo day on June 7th.

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